Rallies Send Important Message

Call for Respect, Promise of Scrutiny over Vicenta Flores’ Death

Following my last post on the importance of familiar strangers, which covered the same situation from a wider angle, I am cross-posting this coverage of yesterday’s rallies demanding justice for Vicenta Flores. The original is available on A Death in Hong Kong. Some of the details have been changed here to help readers who live overseas. If you hear of anything like this happening in your country, please publicise it however you can.

Two Rallies, One Message

Photo by Lulu Zuniga-Carmine, used with permission

Rallies held yesterday in Discovery Bay on Lantau island and Admiralty on nearby Hong Kong island combined to send a single message – that anything but a thorough investigation into the disappearance and death of Vicenta, Vicky, Flores will not be tolerated. The very good turnout in Discovery Bay showed the depth of community concern about the issue, and the Admiralty rally allowed us to join with those on Hong Kong side while presenting copies of our petition to the Philippine Consulate and Hong Kong police.

Discovery Bay, Lantau Island

The Discovery Bay rally filled the forecourt of the local International School, with speakers standing on a parked crane to address the crowd. In attendance were Vicenta’s sister Irene, her aunt and her godmother. Speakers included representatives from a Philippine highlander organisation, the Jesus is Lord church, a migrant group from Iloilo in the central Philippines and various migrant worker organisations. Vicenta’s aunt also spoke, and James Rice conducted the proceedings.

James, Discovery Bay resident and author of Take Your Rights Seriously, a legal rights handbook for migrant workers, spoke about the importance of justice, and how it encompassed concern and respect.

The rally concluded with a group walk to the Discovery Bay Plaza, which allowed us to show other local residents just how many people were concerned about the investigation into Vicenta’s disappearance and death.

Admiralty, Hong Kong Island

The second rally took place around two hours after the first, in a small park and on a crowded side-walk at the edge of Hong Kong’s business district.

Photo by Lulu Zuniga-Carmine, used with permissionThe rally in Harcourt Garden, Admiralty gathered together concerned people from Discovery Bay and from the Hong Kong and Kowloon sides of Victoria harbour. Vicenta’s sister and aunt were again in attendance. Beginning in the Garden and moving to the Philippine Consulate across the street, the rally ended outside the Hong Kong Police Headquarters.

Eman Villanueva, Secretary-General of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, began the rally with a simple statement – that people were very carefully watching how the police conducted their investigation into Vicenta’s death.

Copies of a petition with almost 3000 signatures collected in less than a week were delivered to both the Philippine Consulate and a Hong Kong police representative during the rally. Benefiting from the commitment and organisation of migrant worker groups, and from television coverage on TVB’s local English language channel, we are confident that both rallies put additional pressure on the Hong Kong government to deliver the justice that Vicenta deserves.

Next Steps

Much of what happens now is up to Vicenta’s family, who are awaiting delivery of an autopsy report. Members of our concern group with legal and medical experience will provide advice on what the report means and what to do next under various scenarios.

In the medium term, James Rice has agreed to make a revised edition of his book on migrant worker legal concerns, Take Your Rights Seriously, available for free online. When the revisions have been completed I’ll upload the small book both in total and as individual chapters and link to them in the sidebar here. I’ll also announce where else the book will be available online.

Photo by Aida Poole, used with permissionA Death in Hong Kong will continue to carry any available news on the investigation into Vicenta’s disappearance and death, and links to relevant media reports or other online coverage. Video clips of the rallies, memorial service and vigil for Vicenta are available at the DbayCommunity channel on YouTube.

My thanks go to everyone who has expressed support here at Greetings Earthlings! for Vicenta’s family and what we are doing to help them. All messages have been passed on to Vicenta’s sister Irene.

Vicenta Flores, you will not be forgotten.

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