The International Federation of Journalists today issued a new call to journalists across the world to join the Global Day of Solidarity on Wednesday, 9 December, to demand justice for the 31 journalists slaughtered in Maguindanao province of the Philippines on 23 November.
â€œFilipino journalists need to hear our voices expressing solidarity with the victims and anger at the Philippine government that allowed this to happen,â€ said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. â€œ106 journalists have now met a violent death since President Arroyo was elected in 2001. Her government has created the circumstances for this massacre by allowing a culture of impunity to flourish.â€
The IFJ is currently leading an international mission to bring support to the victims and investigate the circumstances of the mission, hosted by its affiliate, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP). The mission has just returned from meeting the families of the victims based in the city of General Santos and is now focusing on talks with the authorities.
On Wednesday the mission will attend a protest rally in Manila and issue a preliminary report at a press conference.
In a statement reproduced below, NUJP chairman Nestor Burgos says Filipino journalists are grateful for the flood of support that has already been expressed from around the world. â€œIt has helped enormously. But we want all journalists to join us, to band together, to end this culture of impunity over journalist killings. Filipino journalists are now trying to function in a violent atmosphere in the lead-up to crucial elections on May 10, 2010,â€ he says.
30 journalists have been confirmed dead and one missing out of a total 57 people massacred by around 100 armed men on the 23rd November. The convoy was travelling across country to nominate a candidate for the May elections when they were confronted by gunmen from the Ampatuan clan who subsequently murdered everyone and buried their bodies in shallows.
This is the biggest single atrocity against journalists on record.
â€œIt is six months before the May 10 elections and the mission hopes that this horrific start to the electoral process is countered by a determination from the President and her administration to ensure that justice and journalism will be allowed to flourish without impediment.â€ said Mike Dobbie, on the IFJ Mission. â€œUntil those things are done, then the perpetrators of this mass murder will be considered to have achieved some of their aims. That is, to intimidate by multiple acts of violence the people of their community.â€
The mission also includes representatives from the Indonesiaâ€™s Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), Australiaâ€™s Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance, the Thai Journalistsâ€™ Association (TJA) Southeast Asia Press Alliance (SEAPA), the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), International News Safety Institute (INSI), International Media Support (IMS), the Institute for Studies on the Free Flow of Information (ISAI) and Union Network International (UNI).
For more information contact the IFJ Asia Pacific office on +612 9333 0919
or IFJ Brussels on +32 2 235 22 00
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 120 countries