Tag Archives: Political Prisoners

[In the news] Groups slam ‘overkill’ police presence at baby River’s burial -RAPPLER.COM

#HumanRights #PoliticalPrisoners Groups slam ‘overkill’ police presence at baby River’s burial

RAPPLER.COM

Various groups called for justice for baby River Nasino on Friday, October 16, the day her mother, jailed activist Reina Mae, bid her goodbye for the last time.

Baby River’s burial was scheduled for 1 pm Friday at the Manila North Cemetery. Although the funeral procession was meant to pass by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals, the car carrying River’s body suddenly changed course and sped off to the cemetery.

This move had cut the procession short, preventing the kin from paying their respects before the burial. Dozens of policemen at the cemetery also guarded the vehicle carrying the casket. (READ: Baby River, who died in ‘cracks’ of justice system, laid to rest under tight police watch)

In a statement, the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP) said that the “overkill contingent of police and military” hindered the family’s right to grieve in peace.

“Respect the rights of the family to a peaceful funeral and to mourn without fear of harassment. We condemn the continuing actions of state forces…to harass activists and deprive all of our rights even in such moments of grief,” CAP said.

There were 43 personnel from different jail units including police who were deployed for the burial, said Bureau of Jail Management and Penology Spokesperson Xavier Solda.

https://www.rappler.com/moveph/groups-statements-police-presence-baby-river-nasino-burial?fbclid=IwAR1nenZzKqDFmijdPLavvEmVtEQ4wpw3syN2Vm6ozmvH53NCptrSb1oTci4

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[From the web] On the OSG Comment to the SC Petition for the Release of Prisoners -KAPATID

On the OSG Comment to the SC Petition for the Release of Prisoners

The confirmed death of one Bilibid inmate from #COVID19 dramatizes the urgency of our Supreme Court petition to release the most vulnerable during the COVID-19 health crisis. No lockdown or even quarantine measures at this stage can contain the outbreak of the disease and rescue congested prisons.

The OSG’s summary dismissal of our SC petition in this regard is the height of callousness and disregard for human life.

The OSG Comment became a platform for attacking the Left instead of addressing the plight of the elderly and the sick, including a 21-year old prisoner afflicted with leprosy and a 6-month pregnant woman. This petition, while initiated by families of political prisoners, is meant to help ALL prisoners at risk from the COVID-19 pandemic which is now invading prison facilities.

Human rights lawyers know how much I campaigned hard to get them to file a court petition very early on for the humanitarian release not only of my husband Vic Ladlad but ALL other at-risk prisoners, be they political prisoners or ordinary prisoners. We families of political prisoners were very happy when the NUPL and PILC lawyers heeded our appeal and FLAG also submitted recommendations to the High Court.

But the OSG knee-jerk reaction only saw RED when they made their reply, in effect consigning every prisoner to a death sentence of COVID-19. Kahit isa man sanang salita na pag-unawa, wala. Walang puso, walang awa. Ano hinihintay nila, mas marami pang mamatay bago sila gumalaw?

Now, the fate of our Petition rests in the hands of the Supreme Court. We pray for compassion and humanity where there were NONE from the OSG.

Reference: Fides Lim
Spokesperson, KAPATID
Email: kapatid.pp@gmail.com
Facebook: kapatid.politicalprisoners

________
KAPATID, which means brother/sister in the Philippine language, is an organization of families and friends of political prisoners in the Philippines that works for their release and the protection of their rights and welfare.

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[Press Release] Political prisoners, assisted by Philippine human rights advocates, seek their release due to COVID-19 pandemic -NUPL

Twenty-two political prisoners, who are 60 years old and above, sickly and among the most vulnerable to the COVID-19, filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking their temporary release.

The petition was filed on April 8, 2020, with the assistance of human rights groups KAPATID and KARAPATAN, together with lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center (PILC) and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL). Petitioners also prayed that the court immediately set up a mechanism in prisons throughout the country for the release of thousands of similarly situated prisoners.

“Our prisons have more than 500% congestion rate and lack water and other hygienic facilities, making them a hotbed for the life-threatening COVID-19. Prisoners cannot follow simple DOH guidelines like washing of hands with soap and social distancing under the dismal state of our jails. Worse, if ever they get infected, they do not have immediate access to hospital treatment because of their status as persons deprived of liberty, not to mention the inadequate, or even lack of, medical facilities within our prison system. Once transmission occurs in prisons, the infection and casualty rates could be more than double the rate outside. It will be like a death sentence on these prisoners.” said Atty. Ephraim Cortez, Secretary-General of the NUPL.

“This is the reason why we are asking for the release of petitioners on humanitarian grounds. Petitioners are political prisoners who continue to be deprived of their liberty even as they have not been convicted, simply because they were not allowed to avail of their right to bail. Petitioners assert that they are not flight risks, especially during the lockdown because they are already old, infirm or sickly prisoners. We cited the case of Senator Enrile who was released on humanitarian considerations by the Supreme Court in 2017,” Cortez further said.

“There are calls all over the world for the release of thousands of prisoners because of the threat of the coronavirus. Even repressive governments like Iran has released more than 10,000 prisoners to ease the threat of massive deaths in prisons. The measures instituted by Philippine prison authorities such as prison lockdown cannot ensure that the virus will not be able to infect prisoners. Even rich countries like the United States admit their incapability to secure prisoners from COVID and are already studying ways for the release of these prisoners” said Atty. Rachel Pastores, managing counsel of the PILC.

“All that the prisoners are asking is that they be temporarily released on recognizance or bail until the termination of the state of national emergency. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet has made the call for the release of prisoners throughout the world. Many countries have responded positively to the UN call, the latest of which was India, whose Supreme Court ordered the creation of judicial committees to effect the immediate release of qualified prisoners. We urge the Court to urgently hear the petition and grant the prayer for the release of these old and sick prisoners on humanitarian ground. We also ask the Court to immediately set up a procedure for the release of other old and sickly prisoners all over the country,” concluded Pastores. #

Reference:

Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez
NUPL Secretary-General
+639172092943

Atty. Rachel F. Pastores
PILC Managing Counsel
+639279219539

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[In the news] San Carlos bishop seeks release of political prisoners amid pandemic -INQUIRER.net

BACOLOD CITY — San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza has asked the release of political prisoners to decongest the jails in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Alminaza pointed out in a statement released on Saturday, March 28, the looming possibility that coronavirus would hit the highly congested jail facilities in the country.

“We must muster courage to address the glaringly high-risk of a COVID-19 outbreak, now forced upon those behind bars,” he said.

To help decongest the jails, he said the more than 600 political prisoners in the country should be prioritized for release as they had been detained on “questionable and dubious charges.”

Click the link below to read full story:

San Carlos bishop seeks release of political prisoners amid pandemic

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[From the web] Philippine activists revive Marcos-era rights group -UCAN news

Rights activists in the Philippines have revived an organization comprising families and friends of political prisoners that was formed during the martial law years in the 1970s.

The group Kapatid (sibling) was formed in 1978 as a response to a crackdown on political activists during the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos.

More than 40 years later, during the organization’s relaunch on June 15, activists noted that there were still more than 500 political prisoners languishing in prison.

“Political prisoners are a symbol of unpeace and injustice,” said former senator Wigberto Tanada. “They must be freed,” he said.

He said “the criminalization of political dissent is a carryover from the martial law years.”

“That this policy has survived into the present speaks volumes about the current state of human rights and justice under this administration,” the former legislator added.

Chito Gascon, chairman of the Commission on Human Rights, said the existence of political prisoners is not acceptable in a democratic society.

“This is not appropriate for any society that claims to be free and democratic,” said Gascon. “Those arrested only stood for their freedom and their rights,” he added.

Read more @www.ucanews.com

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[Press Release] TFDP to PNoy: release all victims of political incarceration to show genuine mercy and compassion not as “pakitang-Pope lamang”

TFDP to PNoy: release all victims of political incarceration to show genuine mercy and compassion not as “pakitang-Pope lamang”

Human rights group Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) challenged President Benigno Aquino to prove his sincerity by acting not only on the cases of common prisoners but also on the release of political prisoners as a genuine gesture of mercy and compassion in line with the visit of Pope Francis in the country.

TFDP logo small

“While we welcome Government’s move to grant executive clemency to sickly, elderly and long held prisoners, Secretary Leila De Lima and President Aquino should act on this not as a mere PR stunt but as a sincere commitment to human rights and justice. Not as a “pakitang-Pope lamang.” Emmanuel Amistad, TFDP’s Executive Director said.

“If the Government really meant to grant clemency for prisoners for mercy and compassion, they must not forget the cases of victims of political incarceration, who have also been long and unjustly held, who are sickly and those who have reached senior citizenship behind bars,” Amistad added.

According to TFDP, there are 347 political prisoners and detainees across the country and they need to be unconditionally released because they were victims of human rights violations and a weak justice system.

“Most suffered unimaginable torture, others were disappeared before they surfaced in detention, still others are victims of mistaken identity and fall guys who are suffering for crimes they did not commit, trumped up charges that criminalize their political activities and human rights defender like Cocoy Tulawie who were detained because of his human rights work.” Amistad said.

“We had several dialogues with the DOJ and we start to doubt their sincerity because up to now nothing has been accomplished. In fact, there are 5 political prisoners who were supposed to be released through the PCBREP under DOJ, but there has been no progress until now, ” Amistad lamented.

Relatives and former political prisoners sent a letter of appeal today to President Benigno Aquino for the release of all their loved ones and comrades.

The letter signed by the organization Ex-Political Detainees Initiatives states that “…kinasuhan ang mga ito (Political Prisoners) ng mga kasong tulad ng sa ordinaryong kriminal, upang wasakin ang kanilang kredibilidad at dignidad. Upang supilin ang mga ito sa kanilang pagtatanggol ng mga demokratikong karapatan ng mga manggagawa at maralitang seksiyon ng ating lipunan.”

Included in their letter of appeal is a list of political prisoners held in the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) based on TFDP’s records.

###
For more details pls contact:
Emmanuel Amistad, TFDP Executive Director, 4378054, tfdp.1974@gmail.com
Egay Cabalitan, TFDP Advocacy Staff, 09288443717, egay.advocacytfdp@gmail.com

PRESS RELEASE
January 09, 2015

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[Petition] Appeal for President Aquino to release Juanito “Nitoy” Itaas -TFDP

Appeal for President Aquino to release Juanito “Nitoy” Itaas

Photo by TFDP

Photo by TFDP

Dear President Benigno Simeon Aquino III:

Greetings.

Juanito Itaas is one of the country’s 328 political prisoners and detainees. It has been 25 years since he was arrested, tortured, wrongfully accused, and eventually, unjustly convicted and imprisoned for the killing of U.S. Army Col. James Rowe in 1989.

TFDP logo small

Nitoy was a Davao resident and farm worker when he was arrested. It was his first time in Manila in 1989 when he was presented to the media. Rowe was killed in Quezon City. Nitoy was a fall guy and only admitted killing Rowe because he was tortured.

Nitoy is now 50 years old and married to Glenda Itaas.  They have three children, a son and two daughters, all of whom were conceived during conjugal visits at the New Bilibid Prison. Their children never experienced a normal and happy family life. It is Nitoy’s fervent wish to be a full-time husband to Glenda and a full-time father to their children.

In 1992, Nitoy was recommended for release, but the U.S. government interfered and protested. Appeals have been made to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Presidential Human Rights Committee (PHRC), but to no avail.

Mr. President, we humbly request that you look into the case of Juanito Itaas and release him for humanitarian reasons. This is also your chance to fulfill your administration’s promise in 2011 in relation to the release of all political prisoners in the country.

For human rights, we remain.

TASK FORCE DETAINEES OF THE PHILIPPINES

[Blog/Appeal] Open letter to Pres Putin -Free the Arctic 30 and members of the Pussy Riot Rock band By Jose Mario De Vega

Free the Arctic 30 and members of the Pussy Riot Rock band

October 13, 2013

Hon. Vladimir Putin
President
Russian Federation

Dear Sir:

I am writing to you as a humanist and as a fellow citizen of the world. I certainly believe that this open letter coming from a lowly lecturer of Philosophy from Southeast Asia will not go unnoticed, because indeed, a noble intention and a humanistic endeavor will always bear fruit!

Mario De Vega

I also vehemently believe Sir that the right thing to do under the circumstance is to directly write to you, because it is only by appealing to your reason that you will unleash your humanity and compassion.

Sir, as an obnoxious and man of truth, I admit that straightforwardly that I am not a great fan of yours. In fact, I am utterly critical of your administration and wary of your regime.

Yet, having said that and despite the fact that I do not have a high regard to your political leadership and bureaucratic machination, let me also state for purposes of the records, personally and formally that with regard to the handling of the Syrian question, you have proven your mettle, sense of purpose and inner worth at the world stage.

Sir, needless to state, the world owes you and your government a lot, because of your political acumen, careful deliberation and diplomatic tact, you and your country has averted the possible eruption of World War III.

On that utterly important universal note, Sir, let me state directly that I thank you and Russia, on behalf of all humanity for all your efforts and contribution in averting a world-wide catastrophe and mass misery on a global scale.

Sir, the main purpose of this letter is not to blow your horns or to inflate your ego, but rather to ask you in a very humble manner the dropping of the dubious and flimsy charges against the Greenpeace activists which are currently in your territory and custody.

The antecedents and facts of this case is not in dispute, nonetheless for your reference and information, please do allow me to quote from the statement of the Greenpeace themselves:

“On September 18, a small group of Greenpeace International activists approached the Gazprom Prirazlomnaya oil platform, in the Pechora Sea off the Russian coast, to engage in a peaceful protest of Arctic oil drilling. Two activists were detained and held overnight on a Russian Coast Guard vessel.

“The following day, September 19, the Russian Coast Guard illegally boarded the Greenpeace International ship Arctic Sunrise while in international waters. All 30 members of the crew were held under armed guard for 5 days as the ship was towed to the port of Murmansk. Upon arrival, the activists were taken from the ship and held by authorities on land.

“On September 26th, 28 of our activists, along with a photographer and videographer who were documenting the action, appeared at a preliminary court hearing in Murmansk, where most of them were remanded in custody for two months, facing investigation for possible piracy. We are demanding the immediate release of all activists, our ship, and an end to offshore oil drilling in the Arctic for good.”

Mr. President, I implored you to show your humanity and sensitivity to the call and wishes of the people of the world; please release those individuals which are now known universally as the ARCTIC 30.

Sir, “the crew of the Arctic Sunrise were protesting at the Prirazalomnaya for purely unselfish reasons. As the ice is retreating, oil companies are moving north to drill for the fuels that are causing the ice to melt. The Arctic 30 were acting out of a deeply held conviction that this is a risky enterprise, when an oil spill would be catastrophic for the entire region. They should not be charged with such a serious crime as piracy for taking peaceful, safe action to protest the dangerous industrialization of the Arctic.

“Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and Nobel peace prize winner Adolfo Pérez Esquivel have joined hundreds of thousands of people across the globe calling for the release of the Arctic 30.”

Mr. President, needless to state, I am also writing to you personally to add my voice and show my solidarity to those people in detention at your country.

Sir, in the name of humanity, please released them unconditionally and immediately.

Sir, if I may remind you, during the height of the Syrian crisis, when the imperialistic and militaristic US government are hell vent on militarily intervening on the said country without just cause and again bypassing and disrespecting once again the United Nation Security Council; you did not let the historical moment and the momentous event to unfold without doing anything.

You stood your ground, raise your voice in a diplomatic tone, yet in a very firm manner and make it known all over the world your clear stand and reasonable position on Syria.

Not only that, Sir, you earn my respect and admiration when you personally went beyond what is normal and typical and that is when you yourself wrote an open letter addressed to the American people.

I certainly believe without the slightest element of doubt that that crucial time is your greatest moment at the world stage.

Now, Mr. President, Sir, I humbly beseech you to please exhibit and show again your humanity and statesmanship. Please show your humanitarian consideration and executive compassion to those environmental activists being detain at your jail.

Mr. President, to quote from the letter for you of the Executive of the Greenpeace International, Mr. Kumi Naidoo:

“Their fate is a matter of global concern. Therefore, I would come to you with an offer. I am willing to move my life to Russia for the duration of this affair. I would offer myself as a guarantor for the good conduct of the Greenpeace activists, were they to be released on bail. They, we, Greenpeace, do not believe ourselves to be above the law. We are willing to face the consequences of what we did, as long as those consequences are within a nation’s criminal code as any reasonable person understands that code to be.

“It is clear from your own statements that you do not regard the activists as pirates, although that is the charge levelled against them. You, in common with millions around the world, know that in being accused of piracy they are charged with a crime that did not happen, that our activists are accused of an imaginary offence. Indeed, you have previously said that you have admiration for groups like Greenpeace, and that our protests inspire sympathy in you. Were our friends to be released on bail, I offer myself as security against the promise that the twenty-eight Greenpeace International activists will answer for their peaceful protest according to the criminal code of Russia.

“The law, as we both know, does not apply the offence of piracy to the actions of peaceful protesters. I therefore ask you to use any avenues of action open to you as President of the Russian Federation to request that the excessive charges of piracy against the detainees are dropped, and that any charges brought are consistent with international and Russian law. I also respectfully ask that the two independent freelancers, who are not Greenpeace members, be immediately freed.”

Hence, please release them, Sir! There only fault, if you can call it so is the very fact that they are being truthful and so passionate on their mission of protecting and saving the environment for our future generation, because to paraphrase a time honored saying: We do not inherit this earth from our ancestors; we are merely borrowing it from our children.

Lastly, Sir, besides the Arctic 30 activists, I am also pleading to you personally to pardon and release from prison all the members of the Pussy Riot Rock band!

Sir, if ever they have committed an offense or a crime, it is my firm view that by virtue of the time that they have already spent in jail; it is about time that you show your leniency and compassion to those girls.

Their families had already suffered enough and I believe Sir, the time now is right and ripe for you to free them.

Sir, please do something; lift your finger and grant them their liberty.

The world is watching Sir, please do the right thing! SHOW YOUR COMPASSION FOR HUMANITY!

Respectfully yours,

Jose Mario Dolor De Vega

Philosophy lecturer
College of Arts and Letters
Polytechnic University of the Philippines

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[In the news] DOJ drops raps vs. poet-activist Ericson Acosta -GMA News

DOJ drops raps vs. poet-activist Ericson Acosta
Mark MERUEÑAS, GMA News
January 31, 2013

gmanewsonline(Updated 3:21 p.m.) The Department of Justice (DOJ) has dropped charges against cultural activist and poet Ericson Acosta, who has been incarcerated since 2011 over what his friends and supporters claimed was a trumped-up charge.

In a 15-page resolution signed by Undersecretary Francisco Baraan III, the DOJ said it found “numerous irregularities” in the arrest, detention, and turn-over of Acosta that led the agency to “seriously doubt the validity of the charges against him.”

The DOJ noted how Acosta was not immediately brought to the nearest police station or jail after his arrest, as required under Section 3, Rule 113 of the Revised Rules on Criminal Procedure.

Read full article @www.gmanetwork.com

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[From the web/campaign] What is #FREEOURDEFENDERS campaign? -TFDP

#FREEOURDEFENDERS! Free all political prisoners!

Teaser 300c copy

Government keeps denying the existence of political prisoners. We need to assert the truth! Join us in a call to #FREEOURDEFENDERS! Free all political prisoners!

In previous statement, PNoy’s spokesperson Lacierda declared that ‘We have no political prisoners.’ Then the Department of Justice (DOJ) failed to deliver Government’s commitment to look into the plight of all victims of political incarceration as a result of the hunger strike more than one year ago. There’s unconfirmed information that the existing mechanism for the release of alleged political offenders (PCBREP) is to be dissolved by the government. If this information is true then the Aquino Government has no intention to release political prisoners through executive action.

While the general public and even most advocates are not aware of the situation and continuing violation of political incarceration and criminalization of political offense, these violations are used to attack freedom of belief and even human rights defenders.

What is #FREEOURDEFENDERS campaign?

#FREEOURDEFENDERS CAMPAIGN is an online and offline popularization campaign designed to educate the public and assert the existence of victims of political incarceration in the country. It aims to create a massive online and offline discussion and actions that will aim to raise public awareness and answer the allegations of our government that there are no political prisoners in the country.

The #FREEOURDEFENDERS campaign refers to detained human rights defenders and defenders of peoples’ issues and struggles or Political Prisoners as we call them. Through combining online and offline activities we will generate an army of advocates who will be mobilized in all actions designed to assert our cause.
The public should be informed about cases like Juanito “Nitoy” Itaas, a long-held political prisoner and Cocoy Tulawie, detained human rights defender among many others. Both are working for the defense of peoples’ issues and human rights. Accused with trumped up criminal charges, they are among the more than 300 victims of political incarceration languishing in jails nationwide.

The #FREEOURDEFENDERS campaign demands that the PNoy Government must:
1. Free all political prisoners
2. Look into the plight of victims of political incarceration
3. Protect human rights defenders
4. Respect freedom of political belief, freedom of expression, opinion and association
5. Stop criminalization of political offense

They are jailed for our struggles… we must claim their freedom now!

Task Force Detainees of The Philippines (TFDP) founded by the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines (AMRSP).

Website: http://www.tfdp.net http://tfdp.net/campaigns/on-political-prisoners/341-freeourdefenders-free-all-political-prisoners
Like TFDP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Task-Force-Detainees-of-the-Philippines/203987776310549
Follow TFDP on Twitter: TFDPupdates
Also like the Free All Political Prisoners campaign on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/freeallpoliticalprisonersph

[Appeal] Call for International Solidarity- Open Letter to Thailand Prime Minister – Free Somyot Campaign

Free Somyot

Dear all comrades and friends

Warm greetings from Free Somyot Campaign!

We are here again calling your strong support before the verdict will be announced for somyot case on the 23 Jan 2013. If he is found guilty, it will be 30 years sentences!

We are calling for your continuous support to endorse this open letter that will be submit to the Thai authorities on the 17 Jan 2013 to call for Somyot case to be dropped. As he did nothing wrong to uphold freedom of expression as human rights defender. We remain the position that Somyot is innocence and the Lese majeste law violate freedom of expression in Thailand.

Therefore, we call for your organization and any individual to endorse this letter.
Please kindly send your endorsement by latest at 12pm < Thailand time> on 16 Jan 2o13.
Please send to this email : freesomyot@gmail.com

Many thanks again
Free Somyot Campaign
10 Jan 2013

————————————————————————————————————

Open Letter to:

H.E. Yingluck Shinnawatra
Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister
Government House
Thanon Phitsanulok, Dusit
Bangkok 10300, Thailand

January XX, 2013

Subject: Judicial harassment against Thai human rights defender and editor Somyot Prueksakasemsuk

Your Excellency,

We, the undersigned individuals and civil society organizations in Thailand and around the world, write to you once again to urge Thailand to respect international human rights law and protect freedom of expression by ending the judicial harassment against Somyot Prueksakasemsuk and securing his unconditional release at the earliest instance. A father of two, Somyot has already been in remand detention for 21 consecutive months on the so-called “lese majeste” charges, for having published two satirical political commentaries in a magazine he edited.

The United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention considers Somyot’s detention to be arbitrary and in violation of international law, and has called for his release. Thai academics, activists, families of those affected by the lese majeste law, and colleagues of Somyot’s have repeatedly called for Somyot’s release.We also wish to stress that the constant denial of his right to bail- 12 time so far – is inconsistent with the principle of presumption of innocence. The Royal Thai Government should respect the constitutional provisions granting the right to bail, in accordance with international fair trial standards’
The chorus of domestic opposition to the abuse of the lese majeste law is growing by the day and the handling of Somyot’s case is a crucial litmus test of the Royal Thai Government’s commitment to the rule of law and democratic principles.

A verdict on Somyot’s trial is expected to be delivered by the Criminal Court on January 23, 2013. We believe that he should not have been charged in the first place. Somyot’s right to freedom of expression, regardless of his political opinion, is protected both by the Constitution and by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is binding on Thailand. Whether the two articles on which the charges against Somyot were based constitute criminal offence is also highly questionable. Rather than witch-hunting political opponents, ensuring an open and free space for discussion of politics and other issues of public interests reduces social tension and contributes to a national reconciliation.

Criminalizing political speech and persecuting an editor who was not the author does not reflect the commitment to human rights Thailand has often professed on the international stage, especially as a country that plans to seek a seat on the UN Security Council and is a member of the Human Rights Council. Once upon a time, Thailand claimed to be a democracy and was in fact considered as one of the most progressive countries within ASEAN, but the abuse of restrictive legislations to criminalize citizens like Somyot has since undermined Thailand’s credibility and its efforts to distinguish itself from authoritarian regimes in the region.

We remain hopeful that the Royal Thai Government still attaches importance to human rights and can end unjust actions against its citizens. We therefore respectfully call upon your administration and all organs of the Government to take all appropriate steps to ensure that Somyot’s arbitrary detention ends immediately and that he is able to exercise peacefully his fundamental human rights, without reprisals of any kind, including at the judicial level.

Thank you for your serious consideration of our concerns and recommendations. We look forward to your response and actions in favor of freedom of expression.

Sincerely yours,

XXXX

Copied to:

H.E. Mr. Pracha Promnok
Minister of Justice
22nd Floor Software Park Building
Chaeng Wattana Road
Pakkred, Nonthaburi 11120, Thailand
Fax: +66 2 650 9340 / 2 502 6734 / 2 502 6884
E-mail: om@moj.go.th , secretary@moij.go.th

H.E. Mr. Surapong Tovichakchaikul
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand
443 Sri Ayudhya Road
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Fax: +66 2 643 5320 / 2 643 5314 / 2 643 5272
Email: minister@mfa.go.th, thaiinfo@mfa.go.th, permsec@mfa.go.th

Mr. Jullasingha Wasantasingha
Attorney General
Office of the Attorney General
Lukmuang Building, Nahuppei Road
Prabraromrachawang, Pranakorn
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Fax: +66 2 224 0162 / 1448 / 221 0858
E-mail: ag@ago.go.th oag@ago.go.th

Mr. Pairoj Wayuparp
The President of the Supreme Court of Justice of Thailand
6 Ratchadamnoen Nai Road,
Prabarommaharatchawang, Phranakorn,
Bangkok 10200, Thailand
Fax: 02-1434308; +66 2226-4389
Email: opsc@coj.go.th

Mr. Tavee Prajuablarp
Chief Judge of the Criminal Court of Thailand
Radchada Pisek Road, Jormpon Sub-District, Jatujak District
Bangkok 10900, Thailand
Fax.+66 2541 2141

H.E. Mr. Thani Thongphakdi
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva
Rue Gustave Moynier 5
1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Fax: +41 22 715 10 00 , +41 22 715 10 02
Email: mission.thailand@ties.itu.int

H.E. Mr. Norachit Sinhaseni
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary
Permanent Representative
Permanent Mission of Thailand to the United Nations in New York
351 East 52nd Street
New York, N.Y. 10022, USA
Fax: +1 212 688 3029
E-mail: thailand@un.int

Dr. Seree Nonthasoot
Thailand’s Representative to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR)
Email: sernon@gmail.com

Professor Amara Pongsapich
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of Thailand
120 Chaengwattana Road, Laksi District
Bangkok 10210, Thailand
Fax. +66 2 141 3900
Email: amara@nhrc.or.th, interhr@nhrc.or.th, help@nhrc.or.th

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[From the web] Karapatan, SELDA calls on flash mob dancers for political prisoners’ freedom

Karapatan, SELDA calls on flash mob dancers for political prisoners’ freedom
July 22, 2012

A day before Pres. Noynoy Aquino’s 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA), Karapatan and SELDA today launched via http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnCjfcdJ-vY&feature=youtu.be a call out video for flash mob as part of the campaign to release all political prisoners. Following yesterday’s launch of the “Awit ng mga Detenidong Pulitikal,” by the Concerned Artists of the Philippines (CAP), members of Anakbayan in Sampaloc and San Juan danced to the song that describes the plight of political prisoners and calls for their immediate release.

Karapatan spokesperson, Cristina Palabay said that the “video enjoins not only dancers but also all those who believe in the justness of the call to release all political prisoners to take part in the campaign, specifically in creating their own dance version, or MTVs on political prisoners, or by simply sharing and showing the video and the song.”

Read full article @ www.karapatan.org

Human Rights Online Philippines does not hold copyright over these materials. Author/s and original source/s of information are retained including the URL contained within the tagline and byline of the articles, news information, photos etc.

[From the web] Free Ericson Acosta! Free all political prisoners!


https://www.facebook.com/Free.Ericson.Acosta.FreeAllPoliticalPrisoners?sk=wall

ERICSON ACOSTA is a former editor of the U.P. Philippine Collegian. He is also known to his peers at the university as a poet, thespian, and songwriter.

He was arrested without warrant by the military on February 13, 2011, in an upland barrio in Samar just because the laptop he carried roused the suspicion of soldiers. He was accompanied by a local barrio official at the time of his arrest, as he was doing human rights work as volunteer researcher of the local peasant group KAPAWA in Western Samar.

We, his family, friends, colleagues and supporters demand nothing less than his immediate and unconditional release. Political persecution and the malevolent criminalization of activists have no place in a democracy.

Ericson’s sense of responsibility as Iskolar ng Bayan has led him to work in the grassroots and create art with the people. Even in detention, Ericson continues to craft poetry and songs, highlighting the plight of political prisoners in the country.

Respect for human rights is an indication of the government’s resolve to genuinely serve the people. Political prisoners are rights advocates whose bid for a more humane society is twisted and distorted in the hands of state discourse. Ericson Acosta’s right to participate productively as a free citizen of this country is violated each day he remains in detention. A year after his illegal arrest, we enjoin all freedom-loving Filipinos to defend human rights and to usher in peace based on justice.

FREE THE ARTIST!
FREE ERICSON ACOSTA!
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!

PLEASE SHARE THIS PHOTO AND SIGN THE ONLINE PETITION FOR ERICSON ACOSTA’S IMMEDIATE RELEASE AT CHANGE.ORG
http://www.change.org/petitions/release-detained-filipino-artist-ericson-acosta-now

[In the news] DOJ to review release of political detainees – ABS-CBNnews.com

DOJ to review release of political detainees
abs-cbnNEWS.com

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Justice (DoJ) has ordered the reconvening of a committee that will review the status, and the eventual release, of political prisoners in the country.

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) said Justice Secretary Leila de Lima on Friday ordered the reconvening of the Presidential Committee on Bail, Recognizance and Pardon (PCBREP) to study the case of political prisoners.

The group said there are 306 political prisoners as of August in different jails nationwide.

“We welcome DOJ’s decision to reconstitute PCBREP as a concrete mechanism to act on the releases of political prisoners in the country.  It was one of the concrete actions from the government to look into the plight of the political prisoners which the hunger strikers have been calling for,” said TFDP Executive Director Emmanuel Amistad in a statement.

Read full article @ www.abs-cbnnews.com

[Blogger] Hunger Strike: A Political Challenge – Carpe Diem

by Darwin Mendiola

The hunger strike is a form of political protest by means self-starvation. Throughout modern history, hunger strike has been a powerful non-violent political action that has successfully shaken up the political structures of many countries around the world. The hunger strikes of Mahatma Gandhi in British-occupied India, Andrei Sakharov in the Soviet Union, Nelson Mandela in apartheid South Africa, and Bobby Sands of the Irish Republican Army, made these people as the symbol of their nation’s conscience.

Today marks the first week of the hunger strike of political prisoners in detention centers nationwide. Hundreds of political prisoners in the country have staged a full blown hunger strike last July 25 that coincided with the second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III.

The political prisoners now numbering to more than two hundred have taken this political action not only to call on the President to pay attention to the plight of all political prisoners and act on their immediate release but also to protest over the death of political prisoner Mariano Umbrero who died without receiving pardon on humanitarian ground.

Tatay Umbrero, who was diagnosed with stage four lung cancer died at the National Bilibid Prison on July 15.  What adds injury to insult is that four days later he was given an executive clemency by the president.

This prompted human rights groups, peoples’ organizations, religious groups and supporters to hold a solidarity fast inside the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) compound on July 28 to support the political prisoners’ demand for human rights and freedom.

The faux pas on the issuance of pardon for a dead man typifies the current administration’s lack of clear perspective on human rights. If the President could not immediately act on appeal for humanitarian ground, how could we expect him to act on more pressing issues like ending impunity and guaranteeing justice?

President Aquino as a son of a notable political prisoner and human rights victim under the Marcos dictatorship is expected to know better the plight of political prisoners and victims of human rights violations in the country. However, his first two SONAs ironically were completely devoid of clear human rights platform that could have addressed these issues and concerns.

With the nationwide hunger strike of political prisoners in full scale, his action or inaction will be a “make or break” for his administration. Acting on it will give more flesh to his government’s vision of “matuwid na daan”. But ignoring it will mean facing a big hurdle in treading this path. This is the political challenge of the hunger strike. The ball is now in the hands of the President. His integrity is now on line. He should NOW act and act decisively and urgently to avoid tainting his hands with bloods of political prisoners who are hungry for freedom.

It is about time for the government to consider the political prisoners as such. They are not the ultimate problem but just a symptom of the endemic social disease. They symbolize the unfulfilled aspirations and the unfinished revolution.  The government which is installed for the greater demand of change can never realize peace and reconciliation it seeks without addressing the conditions that breed political imprisonment and the roots of social injustice.

If Pres. Aquino believed that his government’s major achievement so far is the transformation of the people’s attitude toward the government, the hunger strike of political prisoners is the major challenge on how government can transform not only the attitude but the lives of the people.

[People] An HR imperative by Mon Casiple

An HR imperative
July 29, 2011 by Mon Casiple

In the morning of July 15, 2011, Mariano Umbrero, a political prisoner, died at the New Bilibid Prison (NBP) Hospital. Four days after, on July 19, 2011, he was given by the president an executive clemency. When asked why, deputy presidential spokesperson Abigail Valte admitted that Malacañang was not informed that Tatay Umbrero has already died earlier.

This incident, more than any other recently, defines the current Aquino administration’s handling of its human rights commitment. It responds to human rights issues such as the human rights compensation bill, the Marcos burial in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, and the passage of the law criminalizing enforced disappearance excruciatingly slow. It has not even approved the CHR’s National Human Rights Plan and even plan to replace the Presidential Human Right Committee (PHRC) with an inter-agency body without the participation of the human rights community.

This kind of a response is expected of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo administration. In the Aquino administration, with its avowed legacy of democracy and human rights, it is raising quite a few eyebrows not only in the local and international human rights community but even in the wider public. It seems that human rights is still subject to political expediency and can be handled opportunistically as public sentiment react to human rights issues.

Read full article @ moncasiple.wordpress.com

[Statement] Unless the yoke of exploitation and oppression are broken, we are all prisoners! – REHAS

by REHAS

The struggle to effect the release of Political Prisoners/ Alleged Political Offenders (PPs/APOs) in the Philippines has been an arduous work to do knowing that under the present capitalist run state, the struggle for change to improve the lives of the poor, oppressed and exploited masses has been suppressed by the State using its apparatuses (Executive, Legislative, Judiciary, Prison, Court, Police & Military), the very major reason why freedom fighters, human rights advocates and revolutionaries are being arrested, criminally charged, and detained, in fact, under a class society like the Philippines, the State is always an instrument used by the ruling class to suppress the subordinate class. But once they are arrested and detained, they will face another world of struggle in a limited showground but very hard to overcome. It is a struggle against personal loneliness, social alienation, political demoralization, economic deficiency, family dislocation and most of them, the worries on how to win battles inside the courtroom. The truth of the matter under the current system of society, everyone is a prisoner (the yoke of poverty and oppression) both those outside and inside detention center and unless the yoke of exploitation and oppression are broken, we are prisoners!

As of March 3, 2003, REHAS Inc. has monitored 190 Political Prisoners/Alleged Political Offenders (PPs/APOs) who are still languishing in 58 different detention centers all over the country. There are many political prisoners across the country if we are going to pool together all data from TFDP, KARAPATAN, PAHRA, MAG, BALAY, and other human rights organizations. The government through its judicial branch, charges the APOs/PPs of common crimes, despite that the act they committed were in pursuit of their political belief. Some were arrested and detained because of mere suspicion that they were associated with a revolutionary organization. Jail situations remain to be a place not suited for human being (not well ventilated, seldom PPs are exposed to sun light, insufficient supply of food, no recreation center and most often, PPs are being harassed by jail guards, visitors are being taxed by some jail guards, etc.), the very reason why there is a need for prison reforms. Another problem face by PPs/APOs is the cost of hiring a “competent” lawyer to handle their cases, and posting bail bands, such demands expensive fees, in which families and relatives can’t afford. Families and relatives seldom visited their love ones in jail because of economic difficulties. The split within the progressive movement has also contributed negative impact to APOs/PPs, their next of kin and to the over-all fight to free all political prisoners in this country and therefore, the need to unite all these groups into one call and first time in the history after the split that sometime on February 14, 2011, REHAS through the effort of Juanito Itaas, we were able to unite the said PPs from various blocks (RPM-P/RPA-ABB, CPP-NPA, MLPP, MILF and MNLF) into one common call which resulted into a joint manifesto signed by them calling the Office of the President, DOJ, OPAPP and CHR to release all political prisoners regardless of political affiliations. If the APOs/PPs have already started to unite among themselves, I think there is no reason that political blocks and cause-oriented groups and revolutionary parties in this country cannot also unite for a common call and that is to help free all political prisoners in this country.

The call to free all alleged political offenders and political prisoners is a legitimate demand, not merely a tactical call, but must be a continuous fight because there will always be political prisoners as long as the system is not change.

[Literary] Paglaya sa hawla ng dusa – matangapoy.blogspot.com

File photo source: emilyap.wordpress.com

14 pantig bawat taludtod
Ni Greg Bituin
matangapoy.blogspot.com

Palayain lahat ng bilanggong pulitikal
Na lumaban sa bulok na sistemang garapal
At sa hawla ng dusa’y tinuring na pusakal
Palayain lahat ng aktibistang sinakmal
Ng mga buwaya at bwitre sa goyernong brutal
Palayain silang may puso’t adhikaing banal

Pagkat dahil sa pulitikang paniniwala
Na lakas paggawa’y dapat bayaran ng tama
Na mababago pa ang buhay ng maralita
Sila’y hinuli’t piniit sa hawla ng luha
Bantay sarado sila upang ‘di makawala
Sa isang dipang langit piitang isinumpa

Kanila nang inalay ang pawis nila’t dugo
Upang ang masa sa kahirapan ay mahango
Upang sa sistemang bulok masa’y makalayo
Upang bagong lipunan ay kanilang mabuo
Ngunit nang dahil sa prinsipyo’y ibinilanggo
Ng mga namumunong balimbing at hunyango

Bilanggong pulitikal para sa pagbabago
Aming panawagang sila’y palayain ninyo
‘di na dapat mapiit ang kanilang prinsipyo
‘di dapat mapiit ang puso nila’t talino
Kailangan pa sila ng masa’t bayang ito
At sa hawla ng dusa’y palayaing totoo.