From the Heart of San Francisco to Palestine, Iraq, Mexico, and the Philippines
Reference: Princess Bustos, Secretary-General, San Francisco Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF-CHRP)
SF-CHRP Linked Arms with Allies from Various Communities for International Day of the Disappeared
The San Francisco chapter of the Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (SF-CHRP) commemorated the International Day of the Disappeared on Sunday, August 30th, 2009 at the Koret Auditorium in the San Francisco Public Library. The event was filled with cultural performances—poetry by Ayla Schoenwald of Break the Seige, Carl Davison, and POETAS POBRE of Poor Magazine; music accompaniment by Diskarte Namin; a skit by POCAT, Poor Magazine and members of SF-CHRP; and an opening ceremony by MIXCOATL. Allies from various communities also shared the struggles in their homeland. In attendance were International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN) on Palestine, Iraq Vets Against the War (IVAW), members of SNAG MAGAZINE who recently went on a trip to Palestine, Action and Resistance Collective (ARCO) on Mexico, and Kiilu Nyasha, a Black Panther veteran speaking on the Mumia Abu-Jamal struggle.
SF-CHRP’s chairperson Angelica Cabande stated that, “it is of utmost importance that we put the issue of human rights violations and enforced disappearances at the forefront of our discussions. Activists are being killed and abducted all over the world, even in our own backyard and we can no longer turn a blind eye and remain silent. We have to condemn these atrocities and seek justice for the victims and their families.”
In the Philippines, the human rights group KARAPATAN documented that under the current President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, 1.7 million people have fallen victim to human rights violations, in forms such as extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, tortures, harassments, illegal arrests and detentions. Recently, a Filipino-American activist, Melissa Roxas was abducted along with two of her companions in La Paz, Tarlac. Roxas was brought to a military camp in Nueva Ecija and was repeatedly tortured. She was later released after much pressure from BAYAN-USA, allies, and friends of Roxas. “The abduction of Melissa Roxas is evident of the current political situation in the Philippines. No one is safe, even a health care volunteer like Melissa Roxas who travels from across the world to help her kababayans is not spared from the repression of the administration,” added Cabande.
Consequently despite international pressure to stop the abductions and political killings, and reports from Amnesty International and U.N. special rapporteur Philip Alston that human rights violations are in fact taking place, the Arroyo-Macapagal administration has made no effort to provide assistance for the families of the victims nor has the administration made any steps to prosecute or question suspected culprits—elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippines National Police (PNP).
"It's no surprise that the Macapagal-Arroyo administration has continued to dismiss the reports. Once again, she is cheating her way out of accountability like she cheated her way into office during the 2005 presidential elections," states Cabande.
In addition the International Day of the Disappeared, Cabande said, "SF-CHRP will continue to educate the public about the human rights situation in the Philippines and lobby against the unconstitutional Visiting Forces Agreement and Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) Exercises. We will demand that the Obama administration and the senate stop all U.S. military aid to the Philippines. For this year alone, more than $30 million tax dollars have been allocated and given to the Philippine government despite the cuts in social services here in the U.S. In addition, the Philippine media have reported sightings of U.S. military personnel participating in "anti-terrorism" combat missions in parts of the Philippines, actions which are deemed unconstitutional."