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Dhaka Tribune

Journalists remember 32 colleagues slain in the Philippines

Update : 23 Nov 2014, 08:42 PM

Dozens of foreign and local journalists lit candles on Sunday to remember the 2009 murder of 32 journalists in the southern Philippines, the biggest recorded killing of media workers in history.

No one has been convicted of the murders. Wearing black shirts with the words “End Impunity,” the journalists gathered outside a Catholic shrine in Manila, the site of two popular uprisings in modern times.

The journalists also protested against what they called growing press restrictions in the Philippines.

Melinda Quintos, head of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, said there were “disturbing” developments that threatened freedom of the press. She cited the authorities’ ban on coverage of the trial of the accused in the murder of the 32 journalists.

“The ban on media coverage of the trial is an unconscionable assault on press freedom – the very right, so crucial to the state of democracy in this country,” she said, adding that the trial was proceeding too slowly.

The court is still trying to resolve bail petitions four years after the case started. Meanwhile, four witnesses have been killed and lawyers say that defendants in the case have offered financial rewards to victims’ families to withdraw the murder accusations.

A total of 192 people led by a powerful Muslim political clan are facing murder charges for killing 58 people, including the 32 journalists, and burying them on a hill in Maguindanao province in the southern Philippines.

Since August this year, police have prevented journalists from covering the trial for no apparent reason, Quintos added.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), an independent organization that promotes press freedom worldwide, has called the Maguindanao killings “the deadliest single attack on the press ever documented by the CPJ.”

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