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Aytac Unsal calls for UN to investigate Philippines murders

LAWYER Aytac Unsal, who recently ended his hunger strike in Turkey, called on the UN Human Rights Commission yesterday to start investigations into the killings of human-rights defenders in the Philippines.

Speaking in a video message, Mr Unsal expressed his solidarity with the people of the Philippines and issued a call to “stop the killings.”

Authoritarian President Rodrigo Duterte has taken an increasingly aggressive stance against political opponents. In a chilling televised message in April he threatened to “send them to their graves.”

“My orders are to the police and military … that if there are problems or a situation arises in which people are fighting and your life is in danger, to shoot and kill,” he said.

Tens of thousands have been killed since he came to power in 2016 amid accusations of extrajudicial executions under the guise of his war on drugs — trade unionists and land-rights campaigners have frequently been targeted by security forces. Rights groups have said the death toll could be at least 27,000.

In June the UN warned that Mr Duterte’s forces are acting with “near impunity.”

Peace talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been engaged in a “people’s war” since 1969, collapsed soon after Mr Duterte came to power.

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