Mr. Tim Cook
Chief Executive Officer
Re: Immediately remove apps that are promoting murder, extrajudicial killings, violence, and the war on drugs in the Philippines.
We, the undersigned, bring to your attention numerous apps, which actively promote and endorse violence and killings of marginalized communities of people who use drugs. As organizations and networks representing these communities, we find these depictions and promotions extremely shocking, especially given their divergence from Apple’s strict guidelines that pertain to your apps. Where Apple is a staunch proponent of human values, community and connectedness, your promoting, through the App store, of the killing of people who use drugs is in clear contradiction of your values as an organization.
Specifically, numerous apps currently available through Apple are actively promoting the war on people who use drugs in the Philippines, a war that has resulted in the state-endorsed murders of more than 13,000 people – many of them children – ostensibly suspected of using or selling drugs since June 2016. Duterte’s war on people who use drugs, that is often referred as ‘War on Poor’ has brought destruction of millions of lives of people who use drugs, including thousands who are imprisoned under inhumane conditions, their families and children who were already the most marginalized in and vulnerable to the Philippines system.
On the Human Rights Council 36th session, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, in his statement said, “In the Philippines, I continue to be gravely concerned by the President’s open support for a shoot-to-kill policy regarding suspects, as well as by the apparent absence of credible investigations into reports of thousands of extrajudicial killings, and the failure to prosecute any perpetrator.”
The atrocities occurring in the Philippines are widely known, but bear repeating: as you probably know, Duterte has repeatedly incited the public and Filipino police to murder any people suspected of any drug offences with impunity and has given a clear ‘license to kill’. Recently, his war on people who use drugs hit a new level of brutality in the killing of 32 people in just one night of August, targeting impoverished people, young people, and students, and has recently given a clear order to his authorities to shoot human rights activists. His message is clear: drug users are subhuman, they are zombies, and they do not have the right to life.
To reiterate, numerous apps, including those in the picture below actively promote these atrocities occurring in the Philippines. These games valorize and normalize the emerging tyranny of Duterte’s presidency and his government’s disregard for human rights principles. In virtual reality these games may seem harmless and fun, but when they are placed within the context of existing realities, of real murders of people and the impunity of law enforcement, then these games become offensive and distasteful.