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Human rights lawyer targeted

By Alan Maass | April 1, 2005 | Page 2

AN INTERNATIONAL defense campaign is building in response to an attempt by right-wing vigilantes to assassinate a leading Filipino human rights lawyer.

Romeo Capulong is one of the best-known attorneys in the Philippines and has been associated with many struggles for justice in a country dominated by the rich and a corrupt military. The attempt on his life was apparently connected to his role as lawyer for striking workers at Hacienda Luisita, a large sugar estate owned by the family of former President Corazon Aquino.

According to a solidarity statement, "The attempt on Mr. Capulong's life is part of a campaign to systematically kill supporters of the Hacienda Luisita strike. Philippine military and police attacked the picket line last November 16, killing seven and wounding many. Since then, death squads have killed supporters Abelardo Ladera, a city councilor; William Tadena, a priest; and Marcelino Beltran, a peasant leader and key witness to the November massacre. Five more have been abducted and believed dead."

The attack on the strikers is part of a larger campaign against left-wing activists in the Philippines. "Human rights groups have documented that in January and February of this year alone, 40 such activists have been killed or otherwise brutalized by Philippine military or paramilitary forces--a record number," according to the statement.

For more information, including where to send letters of protest to the Philippines government, click here.

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