Attacks on Filipino Unionists Condemned


Attacks on Filipino Unionists Condemned

The murders of dozens of trade unionists in the Philippines sparked a protest in Wellington in July.

Activists from the Public Service Association, First Union, Maritime Union, Tertiary Education Union, E tū and Migrante Aotearoa rallied outside the Philippines Embassy.

At the time of the protest on July 27, 43 trade union members and officials had been assassinated in the Philippines in the previous three years.

Rather than protect the right of workers to organise, the increasingly authoritarian government of President Rodrigo Duterte has instead passed an "anti-terror law".

This law allows the Filipino government to designate any group or individual to be "terrorists".

Trade unionists are "red tagged" - declared to be communists, and thus justified targets for harassment, intimidation, violence and murder.

SITUATION WORSENS

Since that protest, the situation in the Philippines has continued to get worse for trade union and social justice activists.

On August 10, a death squad entered the home of Randall Echanis, the 72-year old leader of a poor farmer’s union and left-wing party Anakpawis. They tortured and murdered him and his flatmate.

A week later, human rights activist Zara Alvarez was shot dead.

Before her death she was working to document and expose abuses of workers and poor farmers by the Filipino military and police. A former political prisoner, she was 39 years old at the time of her murder.

The Duterte regime must take action against those who harass, abuse and kill activists and trade unionists. A culture of impunity cannot be tolerated, and the right to organise and protest must be protected.

 

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