ICHRP-US strongly condemns the abduction, torture and subsequent brutal murders of Philippines human rights activists, Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria Tiamzon, and their fellow companions on August 21, 2022. They were abducted, tortured, and murdered by the 8th Infantry Division of the US-backed and directed Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). It should be noted that since 2015 the US has given over $1 billion in military aid to the AFP. 

The Tiamzons were fiercely outspoken advocates for those facing injustice in the Philippines, and both assisted in peace negotiations with the Philippines Government in 2016 on behalf of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDF). They committed their entire lives to assist those facing oppression in the Philippines. 

As part of the NDF negotiating panel, Benito and Wilma were fierce advocates of the Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER). They saw that the civil war in the country erupted from the grave problems of inequality and injustice in Philippine society, and sought to work for the CASER to address these issues. Wilma and Benito were warriors for peace above all- yet they became victims in the brutal conflict. 

Contrary to the claims of the US government- and it’s close partner the Philippine government- the Tiamzons and their companions were not terrorists. Even the regional court of Manila recognised that there was no basis for the labeling of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) as terrorist in its decision last year. They pointed to the comprehensive program and aims of the CPP-NPA-NDF seeking to resolve the fundamental issues facing the Philippines as to why they could not be described as chaos seeking terrorists. The government of the Philippines had and has no legal basis for describing the victims of the Catbalogan 10 as terrorist- nor any of the many other victims of the civil war. 

This atrocity perpetrated by the AFP is a grave violation of international humanitarian law. ICHRP-US calls for a full, impartial, investigation into this and other war crimes committed by the US-backed AFP in the Philippines.

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