Arroyo human rights victims protest lies told at UPR

A cruel regime lurks behind the smiling mask of the Arroyo government.‘Living testament to regime's bloody rights record’
Arroyo human rights victims protest lies told at UPR

Victims of human rights violations of the Arroyo regime held its 3rd Saturday gathering today, April 19, 2008 to register their objection to the lies told by the Philippine government during the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) last week.

To dramatize their protest, the organization Hustisya (Victims of Arroyo Regime United for Justice), depicted Mrs. Gloria Arroyo as a dummy, “joker with bloody hands.” They scored the Arroyo government for its stubborn view of protests against the worsening human rights situation in the country as nothing but propaganda.

Hustisya said that like a joker, Mrs. Arroyo thinks she can present a 'smiling' image of the Philippines to the international community. However, a cruel regime lurks behind the mask.

Evangeline Hernandez, Convenor of Hustisya, said, “Mrs. Arroyo's soldiers killed my daughter. They killed and caused the disappearance of many others whose relatives banded together under Hustisya to demand justice.”

“Our loved ones were victims of the national policy called Oplan Bantay Laya. We are living testaments to the bloody human rights record of the Arroyo government,” said Hernandez, whose group joined the Philippine UPR Watch that engaged the UN during its scrutiny of the Philippine government's compliance to human rights treaties.

Hustisya members were incensed by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita's harping on the applause he allegedly received for the government's report to the UN body.

Hernandez said, “He was only too happy about pulling his so-called great performance. Many are not convinced despite the supposed applause which for all we know is a polite gesture to anyone who has ended his speech.”

Hernandez is referring to the 17 countries that reportedly grilled Ermita during the UPR session on the Philippines. Japan and Great Britain questioned the government on how they deal with stakeholders on issues affecting vulnerable groups. Great Britain was dissatisfied that their question on the same was unanswered.

Slovenia, France, Norway, Japan, Australia, Great Britain, The Netherlands, USA, Mexico argued that more significant measures were needed to solve extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

Hustisya said the concerns raised by many countries during the UPR, stripped of diplomatic language, is an indication that they saw through the lies and in effect they are saying that the enumeration of actions taken by the government to address the problem of extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances has failed to solve these crimes committed by state security forces and failed to bring perpetrators to the bar of justice.

Members of Hustisya and human rights groups gather every 3rd Saturday of the month to call for an end to political killings, enforced disappearance and political repression of the Arroyo government. The monthly event started in 2006.

The gathering today was held at the Peace Bell area in Quezon Memorial Circle chosen because of the bell’s significance and affinity with the United Nations. The bell used to be in the inner court of the UN’s headquarters in New York and is made up of medals and coins contributed by some 65 member countries of the UN. ###