Monday, August 13, 2007

Rights activists not allowed to leave Philippines

Gemma Mirkinson holds a bullhorn while Ona Mirkinson reads a statement from the three women advocates for human and women's rights apparently placed on a "hold list" by the Filipino government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. The two are daughters of one of the women not allowed to leave the Philippines.

UPDATE: 8:58 am Tuesday, August 14: a friend of the women writes: "all three of them are on a plane to the US right now - hurray!" Good work by all who contacted the Philippine government.

Monday evening a small but spirited group rallied outside the Philippine Center on Sutter Street in downtown San Francisco. According to the Filipino publication Bulatlat,

Dr. Annalisa Vicente Enrile was on her way back to the U.S. on Aug. 5 after a month’s stay in the Philippines. However, as she proceeded to the Immigration booth to have her passport exit-stamped, she was told that she could not get on the plane because she was on the “watchlist.”

Enrile is the chairperson of GABRIELA Network USA (GABNet), a U.S.-based women’s group affiliated with the militant [Filipino] women’s group GABRIELA .... Enrile said she believes she is being held because of her involvement with GABRIELA and for being part of a team that went to the country to probe the human rights record of the Macapagal-Arroyo administration.

“I’m being held hostage,” Enrile told the media. “I cannot go back to my work and my family.”

The U.S.C. professor was given the run around when she tried to get cleared to return to the States. Activist Judith Mirkinson and American Book Award winning novelist Ninotchka Rosca are also believed to be on the "hold list" and so far are unable to leave the Philippines.

These events occur against a background of growing repression carried out by the Filipino government, the legitimacy of whose election is contested by many popular movements. Many believe that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration is trying to return to the martial law system under which dictator Ferdinand Marcos governed the country from 1965 to 1986 -- without using the dread words "martial law.
  • In June, Human Rights Watch issued at report on the regime, Scared Silent: Impunity for Extrajudicial Killings in the Philippines. It does not mince words:

    It’s a complete breakdown of the rule of law. Civilian rule has been replaced by military rule. The courts don’t function. The prosecutors don’t function. The investigative agencies don’t function. Lawyers are threatened.

    Romy Capulong,
    human rights lawyer,
    September, 2006

  • The Philippines is also a dangerous place for religious leaders who stand up for the poor and oppressed.

    Bishop Alberto Ramento of Tarlac in the Philippines, former Prime Bishop of the Philippine Independent Church, or Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI), was found stabbed to death at his rectory on the morning of October 3, 2006. .... Ramento's death is the latest in a string of killings of Christian leaders in the Philippines. On June 17, Tito Marata, provincial officer of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and a member of the Farmers for Agrarian Reform Movement, was gunned down by passing motorcyclists, taking the death toll of Christian activists to 17 in less than two years.

    Episcopal News Service

  • In July, the government brought a new "Human Security Act" into effect. ... The UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism has called for the law to be repealed or for its implementation to be delayed.
  • The Committee for the Protection of Journalists names the Philippines as a major violator of reporter's rights.

    CPJ’s research shows that 32 journalists have been killed in direct relation to their work in the Philippines since 1992, making it the world’s fifth deadliest nation for journalists during that time period. The impunity rate in these cases is well over 90 percent, CPJ research shows.

1 comment:

Kay Dennison said...

This just adds another wrong against humanity. I'm frightened of the world we live in and even more frightened of the world my grands will live in.

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