Press Release — 19 May 2009
More than 1000 candles will be lit on 22 May in the German city of Bremen to call attention to political killings in the Philippines. The initiative, dubbed “Sumabay Tayo! Walking together – for justice!“ commemorates the deaths of more than 1000 persons who have been summarily executed since 2001 under the administration of Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
The action is part of the Kirchentag, the biennial German Protestant Church gathering, which is being held from 20 to 24 May this year. Based on the Kirchentag theme “Mortal, where are you? (Genesis 3:9),” the initiative “Sumabay Tayo!“ calls especially on Christians to act according to their faith and to stand for justice.
Karapatan – Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights has documented more than 1000 political killings during Arroyo’s eight-year incumbency. Among the victims are church people, lawyers, journalists, human rights defenders, farmers, workers, students and trade unionists. The initiative “Sumabay Tayo!” lights a candle for each individual victim.
Joining Philippine and international human rights groups, the initiative “Sumabay Tayo!” calls on the Philippine government to implement the recommendations made by UN-Special Rapporteur on extra-judicial killings and summary executions, Prof. Philip Alston, in his latest follow-up report this May. The implementation of these recommendations is even more urgent to avoid a rise in political violence related to the presidential elections scheduled in 2010.
A signature campaign will be launched to pressure Philippine authorities to investigate each case; to compensate survivors and relatives of the victims; and, to end not only the political killings, but all human rights violations in the Philippines. Organizers are apprehensive that the existing climate of impunity will further deteriorate when retired Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan takes a party-list seat in the Philippine House of Representatives. Palparan is known beyond Philippine borders as a notorious human rights violator who, like others, must be prosecuted and brought to justice.
“More cases need to be prosecuted and perpetrators punished, particularly with regards to command responsibility within the police and military,” says Philipp Bück, coordinator of the German-based Action Network Human Rights – Philippines. In March the network undertook a human rights mission to the Philippines to look into the implementation of the recommendations from various international reports on extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances in the Philippines.
Meanwhile, youth of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP), of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the Asian Methodist Youth Network (AMYN) are set to join “Sumabay Tayo!” in an Economic Justice Forum and Prayer Gathering for the Victims of Human Rights Violations in the Philippines. The Philippine action “A Call for Justice and Peace” is scheduled on 31 May in Quezon City.
In Germany “Sumabay Tayo!“ cooperates with the United Evangelical Mission (UEM), an international communion of churches; the philippinenbuero e.V., a German resource center; the German Action Network on Human Rights; the Institute for Mission, Ecumenism and Global Responsibility (MÖWe) of the Protestant Church of Westphalia; and Church based partnership groups such as Barkadas of the Ev. Kirchenkreis Münster and the Ev. Kirchenkreis Koblenz.
Spokesperson of “Sumabay Tayo!” and for this activity
Phone: +49 151 57270663
Contacts of supporting groups:
United Evangelical Mission (UEM)
Dr. Jochen Motte
Executive Secretary for Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC)
Phone: +49 20183038 -28
Fax: +49 20183038 -30
Ev. Kirchenkreis Münster (Protestant Church district)
Rev. Martin Mustroph
Phone: +49 251797569
Commissioner on Human Rights
Ev. Kirchenkreis (Protestant Church district)
 The Kirchentag is held every two years under a different theme based on a Bible verse. Venues change each year and draws thousands of persons of all faiths. This year’s Kirchentag from 20-24 May, takes place in the northern port city of Bremen. Similar to a public festival, the Kirchentag includes worship services, open air concerts, workshops and public discussions. Booths featuring various organizations, churches and groups are located in various parts of the city center. For more information please visit: http://www.kirchentag.de/index.php?id=home_english
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