Saturday, June 18, 2011

Justice is the Hope of the Afflicted

(Fr. Shay's columns are published in The Manila Times,
in publications in Ireland, the UK, Hong Kong, and on-line.)
http://www.preda.org/main/archives/2011/r11060801.html

There is perhaps nothing as painful as the smirking face of an accused mass murderer, killer and ethnic cleanser, Ratko Mladic, Bosnian Serb commander, almost laughing at the world that has finally brought him to judgment at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, The Netherlands. Munira Subasic was weeping outside the court as she saw the face of the alleged killer of her son, one of almost 7000 men and boys that were rounded up by him, General Ratko Mladic in 1995 and massacred at Srebrenica. It was a horrific act of genocide and one of many alleged crimes against humanity he is said to have ordered and even participated in. While the evidence is overwhelming, he showed no compunction, remorse, sadness, no realization of his alleged crime but military defiance as he gave salutes to the court and the media as if he was still a powerful general and not an accused criminal on trial for horrific acts of murder.

"He lied to me and took my son to his death" Munira Subasic told reporters, "I come here today to see the butcher again and to see if his eyes are bloody, because they were bloody in 1995," she said. It is a great encouragement for all who hunger and thirst for justice that the International Criminal Court has the support and the power to bring some of these accused mass murderers to trial. There are many more who pulled the triggers and may never be brought to justice but at least a few of the masterminds have. At the time, 1995, and even now, it is hard to believe that such brutal atrocities could and did happen in our modern times. But they do, in Rwanda, in Darfur, in Maguindanao, Philippines last November 2009, and today in Syria and Libya. There, innocent, non-violent protestors are being shot by the dozens every day on the streets. They are demanding the end to the Assad family dictatorship. That family has ruled Syria for more than thirty years, they are a minority group, the Alwite, the majority of the Syrian people and the rank and file of the army are Sunnis Muslims. One day, may the whole family stand trial at the Hague for their crimes against humanity.

In the Philippines, the Ampatuan family clan, led by patriarch Andal Ampatuan and his eldest son former governor Zaldy Ampatuan and eight members are among the 197 accused. They ruled the province of Maguindanao as an independent state with the blessing and support of the former discredited Arroyo administration. They are charged with the multiple murder of 57 people, among them many journalists and members of a rival clan. Their assets have been ordered frozen and when the trial proper begins it will be shown live on television to the nation. The transparency will be welcome.

These are signs of hope and will give encouragement to all especially the families of the victims, the human rights workers and all who have suffered injustice. But they are all too few and still there are killings and assassinations that are never solved and few suspects are brought to trial. But a little justice is better than none at all. We must continue to work for justice especially for the abused and murdered children like the raped and murdered child, 7 year-old Mikey Prado that I wrote about previously. Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has ordered the crime reinvestigated by the national police.

There are the many young people murdered by death squads believed to be secret police. Recently, three street boys were found bound, gagged, tortured and mutilated by a suspected maverick police squad in Zamboanga City. We appeal for readers to send email, write letters to the newspapers and support the Justice Secretary De Lima in her quest for justice for victims of human rights abuses.

For Christians, seeking justice is at the heart of the mission of Jesus who called blessed all who hunger and thirst for justice. He gave himself as a living sacrifice to save the world from such evils. It is His spirit that lives on in the quest for justice by all who seek it. (Preda @ info.com.ph)

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