By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
International League of Peoples’ Struggle
April 12, 2021
I wish to convey my sincerest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of my friend and legal counsel William Ramsey Clark who passed away last April 9, 2021. I have the highest regard for him as a champion of human rights, a staunch defender of the people’s right to national and social liberation, a fierce advocate of just peace and a resolute opponent to the imperialist policies and wars of aggression of the US.
While he was US Attorney General under the Johnson administration, he was well known for standing up for civil liberties and civil rights, fighting against racial segregation and discrimination and enforcing anti-trust laws. It was in certain cases involving the US war of aggression in Vietnam that he had to agonize as a prosecutor on behalf of the US government. But after he was out of government, he visited North Vietnam as a protest against the bombing of Hanoi.
Ramsey Clark used his knowledge of history, political wisdom and legal expertise to identify the major aggressions which the US committed after World War II. These victimized Korea from 1951 onward, Iran in 1953, Guatemala in 1954, Republic of the Congo in 1961, Vietnam from 1959 to 1975, the Dominican Republic in 1965, Nicaragua from 1981 to 1988, Grenada from 1983 onward, Libya in 1986 and again in 2011, Panama in 1989-1990, the Gulf War in 1991, Somalia in 1991-1992, Iraq from 1993 onward, Yugoslavia in 1999, Sudan in 1988, Afghanistan from 2001onward, Iraq from 2003 onward and Haiti in 2004.
From 1998 onward while I was the Chairperson of the International Preparatory Committee that founded the ILPS in 2001, I was in communication with Ramsey Clark as the chairman of the International Action Center (IAC) concerning US imperialism in global affairs. Our communications became more frequent when the IAC and ILPS cooperated in opposing the US war of aggression against Iraq and the ensuing so-called global war on terror. The relations of the two major international organizations became stronger and more fruitful.
I became deeply indebted to Ramsey Clark when he publicly defended me and opposed the act of the US government in designating me as “foreign terrorist” in 2002. Likewise he opposed my being named in the EU terrorist list in line with the US precedent. My Filipino lawyer, the late Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, had extensive consultations with him in New York concerning these lists.
And when I met Ramsey Clark in The Hague on February 25, 2005, I expressed to him my gratitude for his solidarity and support to me against the “terrorist” listing initiated by the US government since August 9, 2002. We discussed the implications and the consequences of the “terrorist” listing, the legal and physical threats posed by the US and the possible legal and political counter-measures.
We also exchanged views on the situation in the US, Philippines and the world at large, the criminal impeachable acts of US President Bush, the US invasion and occupation of Iraq, the forthcoming global mass protests, the escalating US military intervention in the Philippines and the US sabotage of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations through the “terrorist” listing”.
Ramsey Clark came again to my defense after I was arrested in Utrecht on August 28, 2007 and detained by Dutch authorities in The Hague national penitentiary up to September 13, 2007.
On September 1, 2007, he declared that the murder charges against me had been trumped up by the Philippine authorities, that they had already been dismissed by the Philippine Supreme Court and that the Dutch authorities had no competency over the issue.
I met Ramsey Clark again in The Hague on September 8, 2008. I thanked him again for his moral and legal support. I briefed him on the status of my legal cases in The Netherlands, European Union and the Philippines. I pointed to the series of court decisions favorable to me, such as those of the Hague district court and the Court of Appeals, which resulted in my release in the previous year.
I also recalled to him the Philippine Supreme Court decision dismissing the charge of rebellion against me on July 2, 2007, and the European Court of First Instance declaring illegal on July 11, 2008 my being blacklisted as a “terrorist” since 2002. Clark gave his legal observations and agreed with me that the false charges of murder, rebellion and terrorism were politically motivated.
Ultimately, the Dutch authorities would finally dismiss the false murder charges against me in 2009. And within that year the European Court of Justice also ruled and ordered the removal of my name from the so-called EU terrorist list.
Clark discussed the situation in the US and the world at large. He decried the severe economic and financial crisis and the wars of aggression unleashed by the US. At the same time, he was glad about the growing people’s resistance along the anti-imperialist and democratic line.
As chairperson of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), I proposed to Clark, as chairperson of the US-based Internation Action Center, the holding of an international conference on the people’s rights to liberation and development in accordance with the Algiers Declaration and the International Bill of Rights. We would engage in further communications on this matter.
I mention the solidarity and support that Ramsey Clark extended specifically to me by way of showing concretely his readiness to help others. But the Filipino organizations in the US and the Philippines can say more about the various ways by which he has been in solidarity and support for the Filipino people in their struggle for national and social liberation even as he had to pay attention to many issues and struggles in many countries.
Ramsey Clark won the respect of the the people of the world and from the most respected institutions. In 1992 he received the Gandhi Peace Award and the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award for his commitment to civil rights, his opposition to war and military spending and his dedication to providing legal representation to the peace movement. The United Nations awarded him in 2002 its Prize in the Field of Human Rights for his steadfast insistence on respect for human rights and fair judicial process for all.
Long before his demise, William Ramsey Clark had won the love and respect of entire peoples of the world and received the honors in recognition of his greatness and concrete deeds in the service of the oppressed and exploited people in need of support and assistance.. He will always be remembered and will continue to inspire us to uphold, defend and advance the just cause of greater freedom, democratic rights, social justice, development, international solidarity and peace against imperialism and all reaction.###