Samidoun NY/NJ joins vigil for justice and liberation in the Philippines

Photo: International Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP – US)

On Thursday, 9 December, Samidoun NY/NJ activists joined the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, BAYAN USA, Anakbayan NY and other organizations for a demonstration outside the Philippine consulate in New York City on the eve of International Human Rights Day.

Photo: International Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP – US)

The candlelight vigil honored the lives lost under the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration while denouncing the so-called “Summit for Democracy” hosted by U.S. president Joe Biden, which aimed to build support for an agenda of war and sanctions on targeted countries while inviting noted right-wing autocrats like Duterte, India’s Narendra Modi and Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro — all noted for their support for U.S. imperialist objectives and for pursuing alliances and arms deals with the Israeli occupation regime.

Photo: International Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP – US)

Vigil participants highlighted the biographies of human rights defenders killed by state forces under the Duterte regime for their political beliefs and activism. Among those honored at the vigil were Atty. Juan Macababbad, land defender Joseph Canlas, human rights defender Zara Alvarez, and baby River, the child of urban poor advocate and political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino.

Photo: International Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP – US)

“He defended the poor, peasant farmers, and in particular indigenous communities,” recounted Julie Jamora of Malaya Movement USA, remembering Macababbad, the 65th lawyer killed under the Duterte regime. Jamora met Macababbad during an International Fact Finding Mission in 2018, when she and her fellow human rights workers were detained by the military for hours and threatened with deportation. “We were told that they needed to verify that we were not terrorists because we were conducting this fact finding mission. Without any hesitation, he came and was able to get our safe release. I am eternally indebted to Atty. Juan and incredibly angry that his life was silenced early. How many more indigenous communities could he have served? How many more peasant communities could he have helped? But the Duterte administration chose to kill him instead because he was too powerful of a human rights defender!”

Photo: International Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP – US)

The vigil also raised the alarm about the “Anti-Terrorism Law” in the Philippines, which presents a dangerous threat to activists and human rights defenders. The law even aims to reach across borders to prosecute people living outside the Philippines for their political activities. Participants called on members of Congress to pass H.R. 3884, Philippine Human Rights Act, to cut U.S. military aid to the Philippines. In 2021 alone, the U.S. has sent $550 million in military aid to the Philippines, with an additional $2.6 billion in weapons sales .Human rights organizations have documented the use of U.S. fighter jets in indiscriminate aerial raids on civilian communities throughout the rural Philippines.

Joe Catron, U.S. coordinator of Samidoun, delivered the following statement:

Photo: International Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP – US)

In 2019, Ahmad Sa’adat, the imprisoned General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said:

“Political prisoners are not simply individuals; they are leaders of struggle and organizing within prison walls that help to break down and dismantle the bars, walls, and chains that act to divide us from our peoples and communities in struggle…

“So when we witness the escalation against our movement as we see today in the Philippines, as we see the murderous and orchestrated attacks on our Palestinian resistance, as we see the criminalization of Black people and movements, it is clear that we are still facing the situation that Huey Newton identified and confronted.”

Tonight, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network reaffirms our solidarity with the struggle of the peoples of the Philippines for justice and liberation from imperialism, feudalism and bureaucrat capitalism.

Duterte has escalated official cooperation of the Philippine government with Israel, acting in line with his service to U.S. imperialism.

The “terror” label is routinely used by the Israeli occupation and the U.S. and other imperialist powers, as well as in the Philippines, to criminalize people’s movements for liberation. We know that this designation will never repress the dynamic struggle of the Filipino people.

Tonight, we also mark 40 years of the political imprisonment of Philadelphia journalist and Black Panther Party activist Mumia Abu-Jamal by the State of Pennsylvania.

Like our other political prisoners, from Palestine to the Phillippines, Mumia is an icon of struggle, a leader of our liberation movements, and a beacon on our paths to freedom.

We celebrate their resistance behind bars and the resilience of the movements they inspire.

And we pledge to continue the fight for their liberation and the victories of their struggles.

From Palestine to the Philippines:
Stop the U.S. war machine!

Photo: International Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP – US)