MANILA (AFP) – Philippine protesters vowed yesterday to “never forget” the human rights abuses under former dictator Ferdinand Marcos as they held rallies to mark 50 years since his imposition of martial law.
Amnesty International estimates thousands of people were killed and tens of thousands tortured and imprisoned after Marcos imposed martial law on September 21, 1972, unleashing security forces on rivals, critics and dissidents.
Marcos’ son is now the president of the Philippines, and campaigners urged him to recognise his family’s role in the violence.
“The Marcoses need to at least acknowledge their role in those dark days,” said researcher for Human Rights Watch Carlos Conde, as activists and victims marked the 50th anniversary.
“Without truth-telling, without the space for Filipinos to understand and accept what happened during martial law, we can never find closure, we can never move forward.”
Hundreds of protesters, including human rights activists, held peaceful demonstrations across the capital Manila, carrying placards with slogans such as “never again” and images of martial law victims.
Half a century after martial law began, 11,103 people have been officially recognised as victims of torture, killings, enforced disappearances and other abuses.
They have been compensated with some of the wealth – estimated to be in the billions of dollars – stolen by Marcos and his wife Imelda.
But human rights groups said there has never been a true reckoning of the abuses – or those responsible held to account.