For Immediate Release – Protesters lay flowers for the dead on steps of Philippines Embassy – demand end to state-sponsored murders
LONDON – 13th October 2016
Protestors wearing white and carrying flowers staged a demonstration outside the Philippines Embassy in London yesterday calling for an end to the wave of murders which have taken place since President Rodrigo Duterte assumed power in June.
Over 3500 people have become the victims of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines in the last four months following a pledge by the new President to “wipe out” drug users, urging the public to kill them and promising police immunity from prosecution for the deaths. The demonstrators handed in a letter to the embassy staff, calling on the government to bring an end to the killings, which they say brings shame on the country.
Drug user rights activist, Brun González, and Chair of the International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) said,
“This state-sponsored campaign of murder is an international outrage. We are here to send a simple message to the government of the Philippines: it must end now.
“Duterte is encouraging the police and public to drag people from their beds and shoot them in the street – he is brutally ending lives, destroying families and bringing global shame on his country. The killings must stop, and those responsible brought to justice.”
Duterte has made aggressive remarks to other state leaders and used extremely offensive and negative historical references as a standard mode of advocating in favour of his actions. But the campaign of violence, which he called for in his election campaign and initiated within hours of his victory, is the most controversial aspect of his leadership. Police officers have admitted the relentless series of killings are sanctioned and coordinated by the senior leadership.
Mare Tralla from HIV activist group ACTUP London said,
“Drug users are amongst the most vulnerable people in a society and these killings are a barbaric attack on innocent life. These murders are horrific in and of themselves, but they will also hugely undermine HIV prevention efforts and lead to a hundreds of new infections and an increase in AIDS related deaths by driving people away from health services.”
“The whole world is watching in disgust as the Filippino government dehumanises and attacks its own people. This is a stain on the nation and we call on them to put an end to these killings immediately.”
The protestors handed in a letter calling on Duterte to act, and laid blood stained flowers on the embassy steps. They also called on Theresa May and Boris Johnson to ensure the UK is doing all it can to end the violence.
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Notes to Editors:
The International Network of People who Use Drugs (INPUD) is a global peer-based organisation that seeks to promote the health and defend the rights of people who use drugs.
ACT UP London is a diverse group of individuals united in anger and committed to direct action to end the HIV pandemic.
Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP) UK is a grassroots network of young people advocating for better drug policies that protect and inform young people
Photos – Peter Marshall