Black day of mourning for killings in Philippines

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 February, 2007, 12:00am

Black will be the colour of the day tomorrow in a corner of Statue Square in Central in a symbolic fight against the extrajudicial killings of journalists and leftist activists in the Philippines.

The Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines - a coalition of various human rights, church and workers' groups - would open a booth on the square to distribute information on the issue, said Dolores Balladares, chairwoman of United Filipinos in Hong Kong.

'We will wear black to identify what we have done so far, it is symbolic. We will wear black armbands or T-shirts,' Ms Balladares said.

Bruce Van Voorhis, of the Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, will speak about the latest update on various investigation panels and plans for victims' families to bring their cases before a Permanent People's Tribunal in The Hague next month.

The coalition sent a fact-finding mission to Manila in July and came out with its own report.

On Thursday, a Philippine government fact-finding commission's report said a retired army general may be held responsible for a spate of extrajudicial killings, but the military dismissed this as unfair.

The government released the report a day after UN investigator Philip Alston criticised the military for being in 'a state of denial' about the 'significant number of killings'.

An 'International Day of Action Against Impunity' was held yesterday by the International Federation of Journalists (Asia-Pacific) and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines to highlight the killings of Filipino journalists.

In a letter to Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the Hong Kong Journalists Association called on her government 'to address threats to the life and liberty of journalists in the Philippines'.

Fifty journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 2001.