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Filipinos say ‘never forget’ on martial law anniversary

The brutal regime of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. is still remembered as one of the darkest periods in the nation’s history

Published: September 23, 2022 11:32 AM GMT

Updated: September 23, 2022 11:32 AM GMT

Filipinos organized various programs to mark the anniversary of the martial law imposed in 1972.

On Wednesday, Church leaders joined an ecumenical gathering to pay tributes to the priests, pastors, religious, and laity who were tortured and killed during the Marcos era. Leading universities hosted forums and film shows to remember the atrocities and human rights violations.

Jesuit-run Ateneo de Manila University honored Jesuit clergymen – Bishop Francisco Claver and Bishop Federico Escaler – who stood up against human rights violations and faced abuses. Jesuit Father Godofredo Alingal was shot for defending farmers accused of being communists. The state-run University of the Philippines hosted a documentary show on the assassination of pro-democracy icon Benigno Aquino, Jr. by Marcos henchmen.

Rights groups recorded 11,200 cases of rights violations during the martial law era including about 3,000 killings or disappearances and about 2,739 cases of torture. Marcos and his family members are also accused of stealing billions of dollars of state funds.

Members of religious group carry placards as they march during a rally to commemorate 50th anniversary of the imposition of martial law at the university grounds in Quezon City, suburban Manila on Sept. 21

Members of religious group carry placards as they march during a rally to commemorate 50th anniversary of the imposition of martial law at the university grounds in Quezon City, suburban Manila on Sept. 21. (Photo: AFP)

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Buddhist temples across Sri Lanka will turn off lights to protest the steep hike in electricity tariffs in the crisis-hit nation.

The council of Buddhist monks has decided to keep temples across the nation without lights on Vap Poya, an important Buddhist feast day that falls on Oct. 9. The council said their decision is a show of dissent against the unreasonable 500 percent increase in electricity tariff.

Buddhist devotees offer prayers during Poya a religious festival to mark the full moon, at Kelaniya Temple in Colombo on Sept. 10. (Photo: AFP)

The government said the decision to cut subsidies to religious places has stemmed from the crippling energy crisis. On Monday, Buddhist monks joined a street demonstration with the faithful to protest the energy price hike.

Sri Lanka continues to grapple with the worst financial crisis amid a massive shortage of daily essentials including fuel and power. Millions are struggling as food inflation has hit a record high. World Bank ranks Sri Lanka fourth among the countries with the highest food inflation, behind Zimbabwe, Lebanon, and Venezuela.

Bangladeshi authorities have started evacuating hundreds of villagers from risky border areas amid ongoing conflict between Myanmar’s military and Arakan Army rebels in Rakhine state.

Bangladeshi media reported that Myanmar fighter jets violated the country’s air space on several occasions and the military fired mortar shells that fell on Bangladesh’s side. Some residents said they have fled the area out of fear.

A soldier of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) patrols near the Bangladesh-Myanmar border in this file photo. (Photo: Stephan Uttom/UCA News)

Last week, mortar shells hit and killed a Rohingya refugee and injured at least five in a makeshift refugee camp at Zero Line of the Tumbru border. The camp shelters about 4,500 Rohingya refugees from 621 families who fled a military crackdown in Rakhine in 2017.

They are among more than 750,000 Rohingya who crossed the border into Bangladesh following the atrocities. Bangladesh summoned Myanmar’s envoy to protest over military actions.

Two Jesuits serving in the Jakarta archdiocese of Indonesia have been suspended from priestly duties for seriously violating religious vows.

Indonesian Jesuit Provincial Father Benedictus Hari Juliawan confirmed Jesuit Fathers Gerardus Hadian Panamokta and Alexius Andang Listyo Binawan were suspended but didn’t provide details. He, however, termed the suspension as temporary which can be revoked.

Three Indonesian Jesuits taking final vows at Blessed Virgin Mary the Queen Parish in Jakarta on Feb. 2, 2022, the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord. (Photo: jcapsj.org)

Father Binawan, an expert in Church laws and an environmental activist, was an episcopal vicar of the archdiocese for 11 years from 2008. A letter circulated on social media said the Jesuits were banned from administering sacraments and carrying out pastoral service in accordance with the Code of Canon Law.

Father Binawan, one of the suspended priests, confirmed that he apologized to Jesuit priests serving in the archdiocese following his suspension.

The United Nations-backed war crimes tribunal in Cambodia upheld a conviction for genocide against the last surviving Khmer Rouge leader, Khieu Samphan, for his role in the slaughter of Muslim Chams and ethnic Vietnamese more than 40 years ago, on Thursday.

Khieu Samphan, the 91-year-old former head of state, was convicted of genocide alongside Nuon Chea, in 2018 by the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia. He rejected the accusations and appealed against the verdict in August last year. His associate Nuon Chea died behind bars. Samphan will now spend the rest of his life in jail.

This handout photo taken and released by the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) on September 22, 2022, shows ex-Khmer Rouge head of state Khieu Samphan (R) sitting in the courtroom at the Extraordinary Chamber in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) in Phnom Penh. (Photo: AFP)

War crimes tribunal spokesperson Neth Pheaktra called the final verdict “a historical day for the ECCC, for the Cambodian people, especially for the victims of the Khmer Rouge and for humanity.”

Hundreds of Khmer Rouge victims, including ethnic Vietnamese, Chams, the Buddhist clergy and their relatives had gathered at the court during the verdict. About two million people died during the brutal regime of Pol Polt in Cambodia from 1975 to 79.

At least 11 schoolchildren have died in an air strike on a Myanmar village in the latest attacks by the military junta against ethnic rebels.

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United Nations chief Antonio Guterres on Tuesday condemned the strike and offered condolences to the families of the victims. His office stated that at least 13 people died including 11 students in Depeyin township in the Sagaing region.

A young victim of an air strike on a school building in Depeyin township in Myanmar's northwest Sagaing region, a day after an attack on the village by a Myanmar military helicopter, on Sept. 17. (Photo: AFP)

Violence continues to engulf Myanmar as fierce fighting escalates between the military and anti-coup rebels. The clashes left entire villages burned down and civilians killed. The military accused the rebel fighters of using civilians as human shields and said it had seized mines and explosives from the conflict-torn village. A villager, however, rejected the military’s claims.

Myanmar has been in chaos since the military seized power in a coup in February last year, with nearly 2,300 civilians killed in a crackdown on anti-coup protesters and newly emerged people defense forces.

The Vatican on Tuesday opened a new embassy in Timor-Leste capital Dili. The new development has been hailed as an effort to strengthen the Vatican’s ties with the Catholic-majority tiny Southeast Asian nation.

Vatican Deputy Secretary of State Archbishop Edgar Pena Parra inaugurated the new embassy along with President José Ramos-Horta. Archbishop Pena Parra said the new embassy is a “spiritual gift” from Pope Francis to the nation.

The inauguration ceremony of the new Vatican embassy in Timor-Leste on Sept. 20. 

President Ramos-Horta said he expects the new embassy to open the doors for the appointment of the first resident nuncio in the country. Currently, the Vatican has a charge d’affaires based in Dili.

Nuncios based in Indonesia or Malaysia have been overseeing Timor-Leste since the nation gained independence from Indonesia and established formal diplomatic ties with the Vatican about 20 years ago. About 97 percent of Timor-Leste’s estimated 1.3 million people are Catholics.

The authorities in Yunnan province of southwest China have detained at least five Protestant Christians from ethnic Lisu and Nu minority communities including a pastor for allegedly refusing to join a state-sponsored church body.

Pastor Wang Shunping and four Christians were detained at the end of August on charges of “organizing and financing illegal gatherings” and were formally charged this week. Pastor Wang is an ethnic Nu and the other four hail from Nu and Lisu communities in Fugong county of Nujiang Lisu Autonomous Prefecture in Yunnan. About 52 percent of the region’s population belongs to Lisu and Nu communities.

A Lisu church in Fugong county of Yunnan province of China. (File photo: Bitter Winter)

Observers say house churches in Fugong country has come under a series of raids since the Chinese Communist Party adopted repressive new regulations on religious affairs in 2018.

The minority groups have reportedly resisted attempts by the CCP to impose strict socialist ideologies on them while the communist officials allege religion has been playing a key role in the life of the minorities who speak the Tibeto-Burman languages.

A Christian pastor charged with sedition in Hong Kong has slammed the city’s legal system as “a hole in a dam.” The 59-year-old pastor, Garry Pang Moon-yuen, made the remarks during a hearing in his case last Thursday.

He was arrested on April 4 this year on the charge of sedition for comments regarding the trial of activists for their participation in a vigil to mark China’s Tiananmen massacre in 1989. Pastor Pang is the first Christian clergyman charged in Hong Kong since Beijing imposed a draconian national security law in 2020 to crush the pro-democracy movement.

Pastor Garry Pang Moon-yuen (Photo: YouTube via HKFP)

He is among hundreds of pro-democracy politicians, supporters, and activists detained, jailed, and charged for allegedly committing sedition, incitement, and subversion of state power. The arrests under the national security law including those against top Catholic politicians and activists sparked international outrage.

In May, 90-year-old Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong, was arrested on charges of “colluding with foreign forces” but released shortly after a global backlash.

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