[Press Release] PHILIPPINES: “I stand trial to defend the ‘concept of human rights’,” Sulu activist writes from prison -AHRC

PHILIPPINES: “I stand trial to defend the ‘concept of human rights’,” Sulu activist writes from prison

(Hong Kong, March 20, 2011) Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie, an activist from Sulu province who was falsely charged with attempted murders based on evidence taken by way of forced confession, writes from prison his reasons why he submits himself for court trial.

In Temogen’s letter dated February 4, 2012, originally written in Tausug Language and posted on his Facebook account recently, he wrote that he “dared to face the challenges and bear the hardships because I wanted to pursue my case in court”. He explained three of his reasons below:
1. I cannot afford to forsake my responsibilities (‘hak’) to my wife and children;
2. I will not put into waste the seeds I have planted for 12 years in my homeland (human rights work), namely, the ‘Concept of Human Rights‘ for/in Sulu; that we must persevere in defending the rights of any person from people in power (i.e. guwah-sarah=authorities) who use their positions (i.e. to abuse and oppress).
And the respect for entitlements (rights) and the valuing of human dignity should be equal and the same for all;
3. If I will not face them in court, it is as though I have already succumbed to their wish to criminalize the work of human rights defenders.
Temogen, now held at the Camp Domingo Leonor, Davao City, left his hometown in Sulu on 10 October 2009 in “the hope to find another place where the Judge is not corruptible. A place where rich and poor alike is the same in the eyes of law. A place not like Lupah Sug (Land of the Current1).”

Temogen was instrumental in cultivating the idea of documenting cases of human rights violation and making complaints.

For details about his case, read: AHRC-STM-011-2012; AHRC-UAU-002-2012.

In our Statement on January 18, a few days after Temogen’s arrest and detention, we argued that his trial over forced confession and fabricated charges, “questions not only the legality of evidence or the denial of due process, but also reveals a far deeper social and institutional problem unthinkable to many.”

We also raised concern that “unless this wrong (prosecution of fabricated charges) is corrected…the trial itself will effectively undermine the fundamental principles of human rights. It is the fundamental concepts of human rights, and not only Tulawie, stands accused in this trial.”
1 Wikipedia, “Tausug People“, last accessed 20 March 2012: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taus\%C5\%ABg\_people

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About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.
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