Contact: Brett Jelinek
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Seattle, WA—On Sunday, community members, progressive groups, unionists, church leaders, and youth and students came together to commemorate the 58th anniversary of the United Nations adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As part of an internationally coordinated effort, more than 100 community members, clad in formal black attire, slowly walked the cold, rainy streets of downtown Seattle in a funeral procession, mourning the victims of human rights abuses and calling for justice.
Onlookers read the sides of coffins displaying human rights statistics, such as the number of civilian casualties in Iraq and the number of children, women, and men trafficked internationally for forced labor and sex. Tombstones memorialized Philippine religious leaders, youth leaders, government officials, and labor leaders who have all been the targets of political killings in the Philippines. There have been nearly 800 such political killings since 2001, when president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took office.
Banners called for justice in Oaxaca, Mexico where over members of the state military have abducted over 300 political prisoners. There has been over 30 disappearances, and more than 10 assassinations. Demonstrators dressed as prisoners wearing elaborate oversized masks of George W. Bush and other members of his administration, while other demonstrators dressed in orange jumpsuits to remind everyone of the prisoners at Guantanamo Bay who are under indefinite detention without trial.
The diverse gathering included members of many organizations including the Philippine U.S. Solidarity Organization (PUSO), AnakBayan Seattle, Pinay sa Seattle, BAYAN-USA, El Comite Oaxaquena-Seattle, World Can’t Wait, Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador, Northwest Alliance for Human Rights in the Philippines, as well as concerned individuals.
The funeral march started at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center and wound through Pike Place Market reaching its destination at Westlake Park. Following the march was a ceremony to eulogize victims of human rights abuses. Trixy Garcia of AnakBayan Seattle facilitate the mock funeral ceremony.
Retired Reverend Paul Pruitt of Fauntleroy United Church of Christ gave a passionate speech on the importance of human rights. Teresa Bazan of El Comite Oaxaquena-Seattle provided a eulogy in Spanish that was translated by fellow member, Erin Fanning. She spoke about the many human rights abuses, such as forced abductions and political assassinations occurring in Oaxaca City, Mexico where the people are protesting against widespread government corruption.
Trixy Garcia concluded the event by urging all in attendance to not be saddened by the weight of their sorrow and mourning, but to instead rage against the continued murders of innocent people around the world. She called for all in attendance to continue organizing, base-building, and consciousness-raising so that we may continue on with the struggle for justice and hold the U.S. government accountable for its human rights abuses at home and worldwide.
Mourners carried tombstone signs with pictures of slain victims in the Philippines.
This banner led the funeral procession through hushed alleys of Pike Place Market.
Mourners also carried 5 coffins representing statistics of human rights violations in Iraq, Philippines, Mexico, and the United States. One coffin was the size of a small child.
The mock funeral procession ended in Westlake Plaza where mourners gave eulogies for the victims.
The coffins were ceremoniously laid in Seattle’s Westlake Plaza beginning a ceremony of remembrance for all victims of state violence.
Community members gave passionate eulogies commemorating those who have been tortured and murdered because of their political beliefs.