IFEX members demand justice for killed journalists
An environment where violence and crime go unpunished, when the problem of impunity "festers", results in such tragedies, says the joint action by 52 members, led by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), and the Bangkok-based regional Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA). "The massacre of journalists in Maguindanao staggers our community. It is a crime of such scale and horror that is incomparable to anything we have seen." More journalists have been killed under Arroyo's watch than under any other government in the Philippines.
The joint action is calling on the Philippine government to bring the perpetrators to justice, and rejects proposals for emergency rule and military control which would only further restrict access to information.
In a separate statement, Human Rights Watch says allegations of the involvement of security forces and local militias should be fully investigated.
Human Rights Watch says the recent massacre reveals "the failure of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration to hold accountable perpetrators of extrajudicial killings." Hundreds of left-wing political party members, human rights activists, journalists, and outspoken clergy have been killed or disappeared since President Arroyo took office in 2001.
The roadside ambush and murder of relatives and supporters of Ismael Mangudadatu took place on 23 November. The group was abducted and killed in order to prevent Mangudadatu from running against Andal Ampatuan, the current mayor and a member of the ruling party. Local journalists told Reporters Without Borders (RSF) that the journalists and lawyers in the group were killed to eliminate witnesses.
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) reports that 59 bodies have now been found in shallow graves, often beheaded and severely mutilated. RSF reports that authorities have arrested Andal Ampatuan Jr, the leading suspect in the massacre and that several members of the local police have been detained.
According to the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP), an IFJ affiliate, attacks on the press continue. Three unidentified people shot at the home of Negros Press Club president and former NUJP national chairman Edgar Cadagat in Bacolod City on 27 November. Cadagat was not home during the attack.
IFJ has called for a Global Day of Solidarity on 9 December to support colleagues in the Philippines in their demand for justice. The day of action will coincide with an IFJ international mission to Manila, the capital, on 7 to 10 December.
For more information about the IFJ appeal and the IFJ Safety Fund to help the NUJP and families of the killed journalists, please see: