Joint Statement: Ampatuan massacre to remain ‘unresolved’

We, the undersigned affiliate members of the International Federation of Journalists, welcome the decision of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on September 24 to maintain the classification of the Ampatuan Massacre legal case as ‘unresolved’.

Relatives of the 58 people slain in the country's worst political massacre visit the site of the massacre in Ampatuan, Maguindanao on November 23, 2019. Credit: Ferdinandh Cabrera/AFP

Issuing a letter on the case, Deputy Director-General, Xing Gu, said UNESCO would maintain the classification of the massacre case as "ongoing/unresolved" in UNESCO's Observatory of killed journalists, as well as in the upcoming "Director-General's Report on Safety of Journalists and the Danger of Impunity" until a final verdict is reached by the Philippine judicial system.The massacre on November 23, 2009, in Mindanao, the Philippines, resulted in the murder of 58 people in a political convoy, 32 of them journalists.

Mr Xing's letter was issued in response to an appeal submitted on September 12, by various signatories, including the families of the journalists killed in the massacre, media groups, civil society, journalist unions and citizens, to discontinue a plan for the massacre case to be classified by UNESCO as "resolved".

In December 2019, a Philippines court convicted 28 principal suspects and 15 others as accessories to the grizzly murders. However, all verdicts have been appealed and nearly 80 other suspects still remain at large. 

While there were 58 victims, only 57 murder convictions were handed down in the landmark verdict, excluding photojournalist Reynaldo "Bebot" Momay who the court recognised as a victim even if his body was not found.

The Ampatuan massacre was the worst incident of electoral violence in recent Philippine history and remains the single deadliest attack on journalists globally.

The IFJ and its affiliates welcome the decision of UNESCO and count on the organization to ensure its commitment to end impunity and protect journalists' safety.

Signed:

Alliance of Independent Journalists - Indonesia

Federation of Nepali Journalists

Free Media Movement – Sri Lanka

Karachi Union of Journalists

Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance - Australia

National Union of Journalists - Nepal

National Union of Journalists of the Philippines

National Union of Journalists Peninsular Malaysia

Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists

Sri Lanka Working Journalists Association

Timor-Leste Press Union

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For further information contact IFJ Asia - Pacific on ifj@ifj-asia.org

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 140 countries

Twitter: @ifjasiapacific, on Facebook: IFJAsiaPacific and Instagram