Tribute to victims, one year after Maguindanao massacre: Reporters without Borders
Exactly one year ago, on 23 November 2009, 32 media professionals were massacred in Maguindanao province, on the southern island of Mindanao, by a private militia controlled by the local governor’s family.
The tragedy’s shocking nature did not reside solely in the record number of journalists killed but also in the criminal desire of the perpetrators to eliminate all the witnesses, down to the very last man and woman.
The international community was stunned as the details of the massacre emerged. At first it was shocked by the scale of the death toll. Then it was appalled by the revelations about the criminal nature of the Ampatuan family.
Now our common goal must be to press the authorities to allocate sufficient material and human resources to the trial of the main defendants, so that it can be completed within a reasonable time and conclude with the conviction of those responsible, both the perpetrators and the instigators.
By commemorating the victims, every press freedom organization can help to promote the deep-seated changes that the Philippines needs. Together, let’s say: “Never again.”
To pay tribute to the victims, Reporters Without Borders is publishing the accounts of some of the families of the journalists killed a year ago. It also appeals for a broad movement of support for the families.
Hommage aux victimes, un an après le massacre de Maguindanao
Il y a un an, 32 professionnels des médias étaient massacrés par les membres de la milice privée du clan d'un gouverneur d'une province de l'île de Mindanao (Sud). La portée de cette tragédie du massacre de Maguindanao s'étend bien au-delà du chiffre historique des journalistes tués le 23 novembre 2009. Il s'agit de la volonté criminelle des assaillants d'éliminer tous les témoins, jusqu'au dernier.
Le 23 novembre de l'année dernière et les jours qui ont suivi,la communauté internationale a assisté avec stupeur à ce massacre. Le décompte macabre a fait place aux révélations sur la nature criminelle du clan Ampatuan.
Aujourd'hui, notre combat commun doit être d'exiger des autorités la mise en œuvre de moyens matériels et humains suffisants pour que le procès des principaux accusés puisse se dérouler dans des délais raisonnables et aboutir à une condamnation des coupables, des commanditaires et des exécutants.
En faisant vivre la mémoire des victimes, chacune des organisations de défense de la liberté de la presse peut contribuer à impulser des changements profonds aux Philippines. Ensemble, disons : "Plus jamais cela!"
Afin de rendre hommage aux victimes de la tuerie, Reporters sans frontières publie des témoignages de certaines familles des journalistes tués il y a un an. L'organisation appelle à un large mouvement de soutien en leur faveur.
More information about the massacre and the trial:
The Lords Still Rule: NUJP statement on the first year anniversary of Ampatuan Massacre
It has been a year, 365 days, since 58 hapless souls, including 32 of our colleagues, were mercilessly mowed down in a hail of bullets on a hilltop in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao on November 23, 2009.
It has been a year, 365 days, in search of a justice that remains as elusive as the remains of journalist Reynaldo “Bebot” Momay has been for his family.
Let there be no mistake. Although the Ampatuan massacre was the worst incident of electoral violence in our benighted country’s history and the worst single attack on the press ever recorded, it was worse than these.
It was the inevitable and logical consequence of a system of governance that has for so long relied on political expediency, governance that woos the support of political clans by allowing them to amass such wealth and strength as to literally wield the power of life and death over their subjects.
Governance that breeds impunity, the impunity that has made a mockery of our claims to democracy through the murder of 141 journalists since 1986, of more than a thousand activists and the disappearance of 200 more over the last nine years, of more than 40 lawyers and judges over that same period.
Governance that President Benigno Aquino III vowed to turn into daang matuwid.
Yet five months into his presidency, we have him refusing to dismantle the private armies, legitimized as government militias, that the warlord clans have long used with impunity to enforce and protect their rule in their fiefdoms, and to do away with those who would dare challenge them, as happened in Sitio Masalay, Barangay Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
Five months into his presidency, and we can barely keep track of the times he has flip-flopped on human rights and taken media to task for painting a less than rosy image of the country and his administration, ignoring the fact that we merely report, do not create, bad news.
It is an all too familiar pattern with dire consequences. Already, human rights groups count 22 extrajudicial killings, a journalist has been murdered, there has been a spike in recorded threats against media persons, and the warlords still rule with their private armies intact.
Mr. President, again we say, your promise of good governance, of daang matuwid, can never happen without justice. Let there be an accounting. Let it be now. For you, too, shall be taken to account. (National Union of Journalists of the Philippines)