[Original title: SEAPA hands over letter of appeal to Philippines calling for an end to impunity]
On 23 November 2011, the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (SEAPA) delivered a letter to the Embassy of the Philippines in Bangkok strongly requesting that President Benigno Aquino III expedite the trial of the Ampatuan Massacre suspects and take a more forceful stance against impunity in the Philippines.
SEAPA Executive Director Gayathry Venkiteswaran and the President of the Thai Journalists Association (TJA), Chavarong Limpattamapanee, presented the letter to Randy B. Arquiza, Second Secretary and Consul at the Embassy. In a strong show of support, they were accompanied by more than 20 members of the media community, human rights groups and non-governmental organizations,
The letter urged the President of the Philippines to support our global campaign and ensure the ongoing trial is a important first step to end impunity-related killings in the Philippines, restore the confidence of the people, and show the international community that justice and rule of law can prevail in the country.
Consul Arquiza assured he would pass along SEAPA’s message to the President of the Philippines and emphasized that the Filipino government was also hoping for a speedy trial and just resolution.
On 29 November, 58 people, including 32 media workers, were brutally killed in the town of Ampatuan in Maguindanao Province in the Southern Philippines. The trial of the suspects has been marred by delays, judicial complications and interference.
The massacre is the single deadliest event for journalists in recent history. The gravity of this incident and the justice that has yet to be served has compelled the international freedom of expression community to designate 23 November as the “International Day to End Impunity.”
This event was part of the broader effort for the International Campaign to End Impunity (IDEI), coordinated by International Freedom Expression Exchange (IFEX), which aims to raise awareness of impunity in the cases of journalists and media workers worldwide. As part of the global campaign, SEAPA members and partners in Malaysia, Cambodia and Indonesia also presented similar letters at the Embassy of the Philippines in their respective countries.
For more information:
Letter from SEAPA to President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III
International Day to End Impunity website
Factsheet on Ampatuan Massacre (English)
SEAPA (http://www.seapabkk.org/) is the only regional organization with the specific mandate of promoting and protecting press freedom in Southeast Asia. It is composed of the Jakarta-based Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) and the Institute for Studies on the Free Flow of Information (ISAI); the Manila-based Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR) and Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ); the Bangkok-based Thai Journalists Association (TJA); and the network’s Kuala Lumpur-based associate member, the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ). SEAPA also has partners in Cambodia, East Timor, and exiled Burmese media, and undertakes projects and programs for press freedom throughout the region.
For inquiries, please contact us at: seapa [at] seapa [dot] org or call +662 243 5579.