Philippines – Killing of Human Rights Activists Appalling – UN Human Rights Spokesperson

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  • United Nations published this video item, entitled “Philippines – Killing of Human Rights Activists Appalling – UN Human Rights Spokesperson” – below is their description.

    Human Rights Spokesperson Ravina Shamdasani today (9 Mar) told reporters the Office of the High Commissioner was “appalled” by the killing of nine human rights activists in the Philippines.

    Shamdasani said, “we are appalled by the apparently arbitrary killing of nine activists in simultaneous police-military operations in Batangas, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal provinces surrounding metro Manila area in the Philippines in the early hours of Sunday morning.”

    She said “eight men and one woman were killed in joint police and military operations that reportedly began around 3:15 am on Sunday to execute search warrants issued by a Manila court. Now the Government has informed us that the operation was based on search warrants issued in the context of its counter-insurgency campaign against the New People’s Army. The execution of these search warrants, often conducted at night-time, has resulted in killings on previous occasions as well. On 30 December 2020, nine Tumandok indigenous peoples’ rights activists were killed during joint operations to execute search warrants in Panay.”

    Among those killed were labour rights activist Emanuel Asuncion, as well as husband and wife Chai Lemita-Evangelista and Ariel Evangelista, who worked on issues relating to the rights of fishing communities and were reportedly shot inside their home. Two others, Melvin Dasigao and Mark Lee Coros Bacasno were activists advocating for housing rights of people rendered homeless. Two indigenous peoples’ activists and two housing rights activists were also among those killed. Six people were reportedly arrested during the operations.

    Shamdasani said, “we are deeply worried that these latest killings indicate an escalation in violence, intimidation, harassment and “red-tagging” of human rights defenders. There is a history of human rights advocates being “red-tagged” – or being accused of being fronts for the armed wing of the Communist party in the Philippines. In our June 2020 report, the High Commissioner warned that such public labelling has proved extremely dangerous and she urged the protection of human rights defenders, journalists and others at risk. In recent months, there have been dozens of activists and several journalists arrested, including on Human Rights Day, 10 December 2020.”

    The High Commissioner’s June 2020 Human Rights Council report on the Philippines documented a serious lack of due process in police operations, and near-total impunity for the use of lethal force by the police and the military.

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