PRESS STATEMENTS & INTERVIEWS, 2001 - Present
On eve of International Human Rights Day
Drop false charges and terrorist tag on Joma Sison, human rights defenders ask Dutch government
December 09, 2008
Reference: Bonifacio Ilagan, Convener, Defend - Philippines (0917-6291241)
Members of Defend- Philippines , Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) and the International League of Peoples' Struggles - Philippines Chapter held a picket rally at the Dutch Embassy today to reiterate their demand to drop the "terrorist" tag on and false charges against Prof. Jose Ma. Sison.
The protest action was part of the activities launched by Filipino human rights defenders to mark the 60th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
Leaders of the said groups handed over a letter addressed to Ambassador Robert G. Brinks of the Dutch Embassy in Manila to formally register their protest and demands.
In the letter, Defend Philippines pointed out that the June 5, 2008 decision of the District Court of the Hague allowing the Public Prosecution Service "sufficient time to continue and finalize the investigation" into charges of murder against Prof. Sison is grossly inconsistent with its own declaration that there is no incriminating evidence against him. The same District Court, in an earlier decision on (a) September 13, 2007 , had found no prima facie evidence to implicate Prof. Sison in said killings and therefore ordered his release after 17 days of incarceration. On October 3, 2007, the Court of Appeal reiterated the lack of evidence and pointed to the political context of unreliable witnesses provided by the Manila government and the problem of cross-examining these.
Bonifacio Ilagan, convener of Defend - Philippines and a well-known stage and film director, called on the Dutch government to desist from the use of false charges to vilify and criminalize opposition leaders and social activists. The use of false charges has become a major form of oppression and human rights violation not just by repressive regimes in Third World countries like the Philippines but even by so-called democratic governments in the West such as the Netherlands ".
"Placing social activists, revolutionaries, freedom-fighters and human rights defenders in a list of US-defined "terrorists" is a gross violation of their rights. It is the worst form of human rights violation against political activists," Ilagan stressed.
Mr. Ilagan urged the Dutch government to put an end to the demonization and continuing political persecution of Prof. Sison through false charges. "We are appalled that the Ducth government is using these trumped up charges to deny Prof. Sison of his justified bid for asylum and residence, as well as his right to employment, subsistence allowance, health insurance, housing and old age pension. They deprived him of his right to travel and even frozen his bank account which contains a small amount for his daily subsistence", added Ilagan.
Charitable groups, mass organizations, institutions and individuals providing moral and material support for his case all risk being criminalized themselves for aiding a person listed as a "terrorist".
Instead of being a supposed advocate of "terrorist" violence, Prof. Sison is in fact a victim of state terrorism (in the form of unremitting torture including extended periods of isolation) under the US-backed Marcos dictatorship. This fact is acknowledged by US courts that upheld class action suits against the former dictator and his estate including that filed by Prof. Sison and others. Prof. Sison has lived in the Netherlands since January 1987 and has never committed any crime. He has served as research consultant of the University of Utrecht and professorial lecturer in various Dutch and other European universities. He has been the chief political consultant of the NDFP Panel negotiating with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP).
"The Dutch government should help the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations, instead of obstructing these by oppressing the NDFP panelists and staffers through false charges, arrests and raids" Ilagan said. (END)