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Human Rights Watch: LRA Victims Share Personal Stories | In Philippines, A Family Spreads Terror



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From: Human Rights Watch <news@hrw.org>
Date: Thu, Nov 18, 2010 at 6:08 PM
Subject: LRA Victims Share Personal Stories | In Philippines, A Family Spreads Terror
To: david chirot <david.chirot@gmail.com>


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The Week In Rights
November 18, 2010
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A Message from the LRA's Victims
Child Soldiers, Other Victims in Central Africa Share Personal Stories

During its recent investigation of  the Lord's Resistance Army's (LRA) crimes, Human Rights Watch researchers noticed hundreds of people in the Central African Republic wearing t-shirts bearing US President Barack Obama's image. For them, and for LRA victims in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Obama is a hero. Many even had personal messages for him.

In May, Obama signed into law legislation requiring the US to develop a strategy to protect civilians from the LRA and to stop the rebel group's violence. The new strategy is due by November 24.

Between May and September, our researchers spoke with hundreds of the rebel group's victims, taking their testimony, and recording their messages to Obama and other world leaders.

The LRA has carried out horrific atrocities across central Africa. It reinforces its numbers by abducting children, who are then forced to fight and kill. Across northern Congo, southern Sudan, and CAR, the LRA has killed 2,385 people in the past two years and caused more than 400,000 to flee their villages and abandon their fields.

Even in the crush of politics at home, President Obama should respond to the cries of the LRA's victims. His leadership is needed with other governments to protect civilians and arrest those responsible for the LRA's war crimes.

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Photo: © Marcus Bleasdale/VII
In Philippines, A Family Spreads Terror
The Family Uses Government Weapons, Soldiers, and Police in its Militia

For two decades, a ruling family on the Philippines island of Mindanao has committed atrocities with a "private army" carrying government-supplied weapons. One year ago, the family and its militia allegedly massacred 58 people.

After the massacre, Human Rights Watch travelled to Mindanao to investigate how such an attrocity could happen. Researchers discovered more than 50 more cases of killings, torture, sexual assault, and abductions that evidence linked to the family, the Ampatuans, and their militia.

Our report shows how the government provided the Ampatuans with military weapons and protection from prosecution. Most members of their private army were police officers, paramilitary members, or soldiers. But the Philippines president, the Justice Department and Human Rights Commission had all ignored the abuses.

The massacre targeted a convoy with family and supporters of an opposition gubernatorial candidate, Ismael Mangudadatu, also killing more than two dozen media workers. Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr. and other family members were arrested after a national and international outcry. However, 114 of the 195 people charged with the killings remain at large.

The Ampatuans' militia is one of more than 100 private armies operating in the Philippines. The government should eliminate these militias and provide justice to their victims.

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Photo: © 2009 Reuters Limited
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"They Own the People"

The Ampatuans, State-Backed Militias, and Killings in the Southern Philippines

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