Sunday afternoon there were two rallies held back to back to remember Vicky Flores, one in Vicky’s community of Discovery Bay and the second on Hong Kong Island. The rallies were to call the Hong Kong Police and Philippine Consulate to act with the same amount of respect and concern they would show in the investigation of the death of any individual, regardless of nationality or profession. The mere fact that it took 10 days after Vicky’s disappearnce for the police to even begin to question her friends and neighbors is an outrage. Thankfully, it is not something Vicky’s community is going to let slide.
A petition has been circulating not only among the migrant workers community, but also among employers both in DB and Hong Kong Island. I have been proud and sadly amazed to see so many employers give so much time and effort to making sure Vicky’s case receives the care and thoroughness it deserves. Copies of the petition, containing over 3,000 signatures gathered in less than a week’s time, were presented by representatives of the migrant community and Vicky’s family to both the Philippine Consulate and the Hong Kong Police. We are not pointing fingers at anyone. We are not blaming her death on a single person. We are just asking that the police conduct a “thorough, impartial and transparent investigation.” (Paraphrased from the statment of Eman Villanueva, Secretary-General of United Filipinos in Hong Kong, during the Hong Kong rally). We are asking that Vicky’s family and community be kept informed of updates, that the police continue to interview potential witnesses and to take her death seriously. There are 3,000 signatures saying that every life counts, and every death is worth mourning.
After the rally Sunday afternoon, my black ribbon of remember still pinned to my shirt, I headed out to Sha Tin to my church community. During dinner, no less than half a dozen people questioned my pin. Every time I shared the story of Vicky, I got the same response. “Really!? How have I not heard anything about this!?” Because the Hong Kong papers have been slow to pick up the story, is why. The police had supposedly closed the case even before our office, The Mission for Migrant Workers, even heard about Vicky’s unfortunate death. It has taken the sorrow-filled efforts of friends and family to push the media to look at the story. Even then, reports have been sparse or even incorrect. (One paper stated that the candle light vigil held in Vicky’s memory last week only gathered about 50 – 60 people, while pictures, videos and actual attendees speculate a total closer to 1,000!) And I have to admit that were it not for the amazing work and dedication by the employers community to finding justice for Vicky’s passing, the media may have never picked up this story. Sad, but true. “We know the penchant of (our) government to dismiss deaths of OFWs especially the mysterious ones. Instead of pursuing an investigation, the tendency is to rush the case without regards for justice and then repatriate the body. Vicky’s case should not suffer the same fate,” Dolores Balladares, Unifil-Migrante-HK chairperson said.” The main medium of communication on this story has come from word of mouth and personal blogs. Yet, whether the media ever gives decent coverage to this tragedy or not, will not diminish the power behind the people that knew and loved Vicky. Or of those who may not have known Vicky personally, but are still outraged and saddened by such a tragic loss. We will continue to call for the police to fully investigate Vicky’s death. And may the strength of a rising community show not just the police and government, but all communities here in Hong Kong, that no death should be filed in “Miscellaneous Inquiry”. Our strength comes not in the numbers on the petition or gathered at the rallies, but in the number of tears shed, for Vicky and for all lives lost too soon.
For more information and updates on Vicky’s case, please visit: www.adeathinhongkong.wordpress.com