Take action now to support the families of the Maguindanao Massacre victims.Fifty-seven people, 32 of them journalists were killed in the Maguindanao massacre on November 23, 2009. The victims were brutally killed and dumped in a mass grave on a hillside in the town of Ampatuan in the southern Philippine province of Maguindanao.
Those killed were on their way to witness the filing of candidacy for a local politician when they were stopped by about one hundred armed men. Leaders of the powerful Ampatuan clan have been charged in connection with the killings but no prosecutions have been concluded. The clan's private army and members of the local police and military are likewise implicated in the murder case.
As of October 2011, almost 2 years after the massacre, it was reported that a total of 100 accused including nine personnel of the Philippine National Police (PNP) remain unaccounted for to face trial - 9 policemen, 4 military personnel, 18 members of the Ampatuan clan, and 69 members of the civilian volunteer organization (CVO), which acted as the private army of the Ampatuans.
Various challenges have arisen since the start of the trial. One witness was killed before he was accepted into the Witness Protection Program (WPP). There are 300 possible witnesses in the case according to the prosecution and each week, the government prosecutors are only able to present two to four witnesses. Families of the victims are sometimes unable to attend the hearings because they could not afford the airfare from their homes to Manila, where the trials are being held. According to some victims’ families, the primary suspects in the case have offered through emissaries settlement of 25 million pesos (over 570,000 USD) per victim.
It will be a lengthy, costly and traumatic legal battle for the families, and you can help by sending a letter of solidarity to the families today. Your letter, combined with others from all over the world, can lead to a dramatic improvement in the morale of the families as they continue their quest for justice.
Click here for a powerful YouTube video on the massacre.
Sample Letter:I am writing to you to express my solidarity in your quest for justice for the death of your beloved relative. I stand with you in condemning the gruesome deaths in Maguindanao on November 23, 2009, as well as in calling for satisfactory witness protection and support from the Philippine government. Above all, I am demanding from President Noynoy Aquino to revoke Executive Order 546, and abolish all private armies and militias to prevent similar disasters in the future.
You are not alone in your fight for justice, and many people around the world continue to think of you and your families.
Please send your letter to our Washington DC Country Program office. We will make sure that all letters are given to families.
Amnesty International USA
600 Pennsylvania Ave SE
Washington, DC 20003