NEW ZEALAND--August 30 is International Day of the Disappeared. Tomorrow, Ninoy Aquino Day will again be observed on August 21, commemorating the life and death of Senator Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino Jr. On this occasion, the Philippines solidarity network together with faith-based justice and peace advocates in New Zealand reiterate appeal for Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III to end human rights abuses.

“Since Aquino came to power in 2010, we have joined the international community in challenging him to honour his father by heeding the appeals to stop the extra-judicial killings, free political prisoners and surface victims of involuntary disappearances,” Murray Horton, Secretary of Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) stated. Last July, NZ-based Korean Pastor Kyoung Gyun Han represented the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (ICHRPP).

“It was a big conference of over 200 people from around the globe. It is such an honour to be part of a global network including churches actively supporting the Filipino people’s quest for justice and peace. Coming back to New Zealand, I am committed to watch out Philippine situation, engage in solidarity action and strengthen migrants’ ministry particularly in Auckland and Christchurch where there are now around 1000 Filipinos working to help rebuild the quake-devastated city,” Rev. Han, who is the PCANZ Asian Ministries Coordinator, noted during his report-back meeting with Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS). This week, Rev. Han met APS members and representatives of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and The Methodist Church about action plans to support justice and peace quest in the Philippines.

They lamented the fact that far from Aquino’s 2010 election promise to deliver justice for human rights victims of past regimes, his 3-year administration now holds a record of 142 extra-judicial killings, 540 illegal arrests, 76 cases of torture, 30, 678 forced evacuations, 31,417 cases of threats/harassment/intimidation, and 27,029 cases of use of schools, medical, religious and other public places, on top of having zero rate conviction for numerous cases under past regimes.

In solidarity with victims’ families, they made paper cranes (Japanese origami) in support of the campaign to Surface James Balao and all victims of enforced disappearances. Based on the ancient Japanese legend that anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish by a crane, they sought the help of Japanese friends to demonstrate how to make paper cranes so they can express support for all the families awaiting the return of their loved ones who have been abducted by state agents.#

Reference: Murray Horton Secretary, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) Walker Spokesperson, Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS)