• Kyodo News


Japanese human rights groups rallied in front of the Philippines Embassy in Tokyo on Tuesday night to urge visiting President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to do more to stop the extrajudicial killings in her country and to punish the perpetrators.

Amnesty International Japan, Human Rights Now and other groups held a candlelight vigil for the activists, journalists and other people killed. They also gave the embassy a letter for Arroyo.

In the letter, the groups urged the Philippine military and national police “to immediately stop its policies of targeting civilian organizations and individual activists.” As president, Arroyo is commander in chief of the armed forces.

The rally came at the start of Arroyo’s four-day trip to Japan and was held at the same time as demonstrations in Nagoya and Osaka.

The letter also urged the Philippine government “to condemn all political killings consistently and at every level of government . . . and to ensure that those responsible for political killings are brought to justice.”

Sonoko Kawakami of Amnesty International Japan said she hoped the gathering would add to international pressure and help get the situation changed quickly.

While the groups noted there has been progress on the problem, including investigations into military officers alleged to have been involved, they said they were concerned about reports that more than 100 people, including political candidates, were murdered between January and this month, when midterm elections were held.

According to the Filipino rights group Karapatan, there have been more than 800 extrajudicial killings since Arroyo assumed power after a military-backed uprising in 2001. Karapatan says there were 185 deaths in 2006 alone.

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