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A Crime Against Humanity

Posted by conscientioussubversive on November 26, 2009

A Crime Against Humanity

On the 20th of November, 1945, a very special trial began in the city of Nuremberg, Germany.  In that trial, for the first time, officials, officers, and doctors were charged for “crimes against humanity”, where they were personally held accountable for the actions they had committed in their official capacity. They killed, tortured, mutilated, raped, desecrated and stole in the name of the Führerprinzip, or the principle that all order from their Führer had the force of law. The trials closed in April 1949, with twelve death sentences imposed on the defendants held directly responsible for their crimes.

Since then, humanity has striven to advance beyond the Dark Age of Fascism and Militarism that it experienced in the 1940’s. The end of the Cold War in 1991 seemed to herald “A New World Order” as heralded by George Bush the First or the “End of History” as euphorically proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama. This was an illusion. Soon afterwards, civil wars in the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, Haiti, Chechnya, and Sudan yielded millions more victims of genocide. Evil is alive and well in the 21st century.

Yet, I naively believed that these acts of evil were beyond the capacity of my fellow compatriots, my countrymen. Murder, rape, theft and corruption all exist in our society, and I do not deny this. However, I believed that the capacity for heinous, unthinking, grievous atrocities did not exist in our contemporary lupang hinirang

Until Monday, 23 November, just 3 days after the 64th anniversary of the beginning of the Nuremberg Trials.

By now, the story is familiar to most of you. On that day, members of the family of Vice-Mayor Esmael Mangudadatu, his campaign staff, lawyers, 12 journalists, and several innocent bystanders in 3 vehicles that were in proximity to the convoy that day were all shot in cold blood. Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr, the Mayor of Datu Unsay town, was preparing the contest the 2010 elections, and reportedly viewed Mangudadatu as a threat. To send a message to Mangudadatu, he had the latter’s convoy intercepted. Then, his henchmen shot at close range all the members of the convoy, including the women, one of whom was pregnant. Reports later said that the women were raped, and their bodies desecrated and mutilated.

Among the people murdered were the parents of a young girl, who had been heading to Cotabato City for medical treatment. This couple had nothing to do with the political machinations of the Ampatuans or the Mangudadatus…

Except that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Ladies and gentlemen, I usually refrain from epithets and insults in this blog, but I take an exception to what happened here. This was barbarism, pure and simple. For a politician to assassinate a rival is one thing, it is another to massacre, rape, torture and desecrate that person’s entire family. To brazenly murder members of the media, 12 in all; and to kill any bystanders who happened to witness the crime takes this beyond the level of murder: This is a crime against humanity.

I do not use the term lightly. In a recent report by the Inquirer, an informant who was an accessory to the crime by taking no action to prevent what happened (lets not mince words here, he didn’t pull the trigger, but he simply let it happen), reported that Ampatuan’s henchmen were just following orders… These words are especially ironic, considering that they were the same words used by Hitler’s henchmen in their defense during the Nuremberg trials.

Here’s my response: SO WHAT? The rest of civilized humanity has long accepted the judgement of that trial, which invalidated that excuse because people are expected to act morally even in extreme situations. We all have a conscience, every single one of us: young or old, poor or rich, Christian, Muslim or atheist. When we do not oppose evil when destiny offers us the opportunity, we are just as complicit in the crime as those who pulled the trigger.

“Boy”, his compatriots, and anyone who was aware of the massacre (yes, I’m referring to the Ampatuan family), bears the responsibility for this heinous crime. While Mayor Ampatuan himself has been taken into custody, the investigation should unearth all those who were part of the massacre, and charge them according to the principles our laws. If our laws are inadequate, then the state should create a tribunal to charge them according to international humanitarian law and the Geneva Conventions. Whatever we do, we should not let these monsters get away!

To those who have the temerity to urge that ‘special treatment’ and ‘consideration’ be taken in respect of the power of Gov. Ampatuan, there is only one word I can think of to call you: a COWARD. Not just any garden variety coward, mind you, but the kind of moral coward who is afraid to do right in the face of evil. Its one thing to be a coward in the face of certain death on the battlefield, and another to be a representative of the state who doesn’t have the BALLS to do what the state should do. If you wish to determine your total idiocy and incompetence (or in Tagalong, “ang pagkainutil niyo”) by saying that there was “nothing you could have done to prevent the crime”, then you should tender your resignation now before you embarrass yourself further.

A final warning to all those in government now: Don’t think that charging Ampatuan is going to let all of you off the hook. If you do not convict all those responsible and issue them the maximum penalty under the law, you will not only fail to serve justice as guardians of society, but you commit an even more serious crime against the Filipino people: demonstrating that we are an unjust, vicious and barbarous society to the rest of the world, unfit to be called civilized or to stand among our fellow nations. That process has already begun, all one has to do is read the international newswires to see the condemnation our nation has been receiving. The italics are intentional: foreigners don’t see the Arroyo administration as distinct from Filipino society. If things get worse, soon, all Filipinos will have to suffer the indignity of being prejudiced by others, far worse than what we already experience. By condemning innocent Filipinos to this stigma, you will be just as guilty of treason to our country as any traitor in wartime.

To our people: act now, fight for justice, and for God’s sake do not let the Ampatuans get away with their crime. Prove to the world that we are better than those pathetic excuses for human beings! Show them there is more of Efren Peñaranda and Jose Rizal in us than the Ampatuans. Show them we will not let the deaths of those 57 people pass in vain.

You owe it to yourself, your countrymen, and your descendants to prove that these crimes of humanity are not committed by Filipinos, but by monsters who are not fit to be members of our society.

Maguindanao, 25 November 2009

Let us not forget.

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