Wednesday, May 5, 2010

The Maguindanao Massacre

Major trigger warnings.

This is "old news" I suppose; truthfully I haven't had the strength to post about it until now. I kept getting too upset and not being about to write.

On the island of Mindanao in the Philippines on November 23rd last year, in the approaching Maguindanao provincial election (part of the national elections in the Philippines), vice mayor of Buluan town Esmael Mangudadatu was attempting to file a certificate of candidacy. Mangudadatu was politically challenging mayor of Datu Unsay, Andal Ampatuan Jr., running for governor and patriarch of the powerful Ampatuan family. After death threats from the Ampatuan family, Mangudadatu organised a convey of female family members, lawyers, aides and journalists to file the certificate for him, believing the women would not be harmed and that the strong media presence would be an added protection.

57 members of Mangudadatu's convey were butchered, murdered and buried in mass graves after an ambush by 100 armed men.

Of the 57 massacred, 22 Filipina women suffered brutal rapes and sexual torture before their murders. Some had their genitals slashed and bullets fired into their private parts. Mangudadatu's wife, three sisters, female cousin and aunt, died in this way. Two female human rights defenders, Attorney Concepcion “Connie” Brizuela and Attorney Cynthia Oquendo, were among the victims, as well journalists and one woman whose car was mistaken as part of the convoy.

The massacre of 57 people in Ampatuan town, Maguindanao goes beyond a rido or clan war. The sheer scope of barbarity, the brazenness of the murders betrays the perpetrators’ belief in being beyond the reach of the law. Women, lawyers and journalists – no one escaped the butchers’ wrath. Fifty-seven people killed in broad daylight. The murderers had planned the deed, down to the mass burial of victims. That is the mark of the untouchable.

"Untouchable"? Oh, we'll see about that, murderers. I might just be an angry little Filipino-Australian woman on her computer, while you might be an evil monster with a thousand faces and thousands of arms and legs, used to brutalising women like they're extensions of your enemies in your clan wars, supported by firearms, rich families and a culture where you enjoy raw power. I might just be getting started in this world, while you've been festering and growing and terrorising for generations. But I will find a way to fight you.

Starting with raising awareness outside of your world, where you can't silence me or those I love.

Show your indignation and protest by signing an online petition on Strike against Impunity, Strike for Peace and Democracy.

I condemn the brutality of the Maguindanao Massacre. I will NOT let this pass. I want the whole the world to know, especially the Arroyo government that we will not stop until justice is delivered to the victims of the Ampatuan Massacre (otherwise known as Maguindanao massacre) . I grieve for all the women, journalists and other innocent victims who suffered extreme violence and the brutal slaying.

I will make sure you did not die in vain. We should not let allow this to happen again and we cannot allow this climate of impunity to reign.

For more information read the Filipina Images coverage here.


  1. wtf? I hadn't heard about this before. will crosspost this.

  2. Thanks again, Saranga. The massacre has been named the single deadliest event for journalists in HISTORY. But it's the brazen way in which all the women were brutalised which really turned my blood to ice.

  3. how did this not get picked up more in the blogosphere? your post is the first i've seen of it. why haven't the f word, racialicious or shakesville picked this up for instance? has the media outside of the Phillippines just ignored this?

  4. I'm really not sure; I don't believe Racialicious covered it and I don't follow the F Word or Shakesville regularly enough to know. It did happen in November '09 so it's likely I missed anything posted at the time. I found out about it via family (tons of uncles, aunts and cousins in the Philippines) but I don't recall the story making headlines in Australia, perhaps "quick hit" style coverage in the world news on a Fairfax site or something.

    A sinister voice in my mind tells me if the journalists/lawyers involved were foreign the story might've made bigger waves, though. For now it's like, "Oh yeah, in some country somewhere some people got killed." But if it were over 20 British or US journalists beheaded, butchered, raped and murdered, there'd be MAYHEM.

  5. I think you may be right.

    Btw I've passed this on to The F Word team to cover - someone may be in contact with you soon about it.

  6. Hi Black Cat,

    I blog for The F Word, could you please contact me at laura.woodhouse[at]