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The Enforced Disappearance of Activists, Journalists and Lawyers

In the Philippines and in other countries that are threatened by authoritarianism, a number of activists, journalists and lawyers have disappeared after criticizing the government.

Filipino activists who defend indigenous rights, criticize extrajudicial killings or defend human rights in general have disappeared. Before these activists disappeared, they are often red tagged by paramilitary forces. When someone is red tagged, they are accused of being part of a communist insurgency, which leaves the red tagged person vulnerable to being harassed, jailed or even killed.

In a 10 month period, from 2022 to 2023, 11 activists have disappeared during President Bongbong Marcos's administration so far, including activists Bazoo De Jesus, Dexter Capuyan, Renel Delos Santos, Denald Laloy Mialen, and Lyn Grace Martullinas.

During Rodrigo Duterte's 6 year term as President of the Philippines, there were 20 enforced disappearances. There were 29 enforced disappearances during the Presidency of Benigno Aquino III. There were 206 enforced disappearances during former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's administration (statistics from an article by Kurt Dela Pena from the May 30, 2023 Philippines Daily Inquirer https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1777073/enforced-disappearances-of-activi….).

According to Amnesty International, authoritarian governments around the world use enforced disappearances to spread terror within their societies to weaken the citizens will to dissent. Victims of enforced disappearances are often tortured and killed.


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