Manila, Philippines–On August 14th, 2005, human rights advocates and families of the victims convened with 85 foreign delegates from 16 countries, to kick off the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) 2005.

Delegates to the ISM 2005 will divide up in smaller groups and visit the places where the grossest human rights violations (HRVs) have taken place: Mindoro Island in the Southern Tagalog region, Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac, Central Luzon, Samar Island in Eastern Visayas, and Surigao del Sur in Mindanao, to meet with the victims first-hand and gain a deeper understanding of the human rights situation in the country.

The ISM 2005’s findings will be submitted for trial at the International People’s Tribunal, set on Aug. 19, at the University of the Philippines Film Center in Quezon City. The International People’s Tribunal will be headed Vice Chairperson of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL), Lennox Hinds and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Irene Fernandez. The ISM has been endorsed by former US Attorney General Ramsey Clarke and former Justice of the Supreme Court of India Jittendra Sharma, Mumia Abu Jamal, Dolores Huerta, Jackie Goldberg, Amiri Baraka, and Noam Chomsky along with more than a hundred international personalities and institutions.

From Jan. 21, 2001 to June 30, 2005, Karapatan (Alliance for the Advancement of Peoples’ Rights) has documented 4,207 cases of human rights violations affecting 232,795 individuals or 24,299 families in 237 communities. These included 102 victims of frustrated murders and 130 victims of involuntary disappearances. The 411 documented summary executions included 51 leaders and members of the progressive political party-list Bayan Muna (People First), 20 human rights workers, and four lawyers and two judges in 2004 and 2005.

Australian human rights lawyer Peter Broch cited the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) report on the Philippines as the most dangerous place in the world for journalists. Broch stressed that the violations incurred under Arroyo’s term is possibly “worse than what happened since the Marcos years.”

Kawal Ulanday, BAYAN USA Chairperson leads a delegation of over 2 dozen journalists, educators, and human rights activists from the U.S. “The ISM is part of our effort to expose the role of the U.S. and the Philippine government in the human rights violations, and to redirect millions in U.S. tax payer dollars from military aid to humane forms of international assistance,” says Ulanday.