CAP-CPC Philippine trip sharing / BBQ-pot luck Saturday, July 3

Centre for Philippine Concerns and Friends
BBQ-pot luck and stories from the Philippines

Bring your meats, vegetables to BBQ and drinks to share!

Elections, human rights, environment, youth and student organizing:  While Philippine society is largely unchanged since US colonial rule and elections are held like musical chairs for the ruling elites, a vibrant people's movement shines a path to a brighter future for the Filipino people.  Amidst the poverty, political corruption and human rights abuses rises hope in the people's organizations who struggle for genuine freedom and democracy in the Philippines.

Come listen to the stories, and find out how we can become part of this living history. And help plan the next steps.

Saturday, July 3, 2010, at 4:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Jill Hanley's place
7027 Boyer, between Bélanger and Jean-Talon (2 streets east of St-Hubert)
Jean-Talon Metro, St-Hubert exit.


Statement of Gratitude to Our International Supporters: Morong 43

We, the illegally detained community health workers, say it again that we are not spared from Gloria Arroyo’s most vicious and cruel government. The Filipino people have already judged the most hated Arroyo regime. As her reign will end on June 30, 2010, we wish to inform our local and international supporters that as community health workers who are witnesses to the sufferings of the poor and marginalized people in our country that have worsened during the Arroyo regime, we will carry on our struggle for our rights, justice, and freedom.

We are witnesses to the poor and oppressed families who are deprived of the fruits of their labours because they did not own the parcel of the land they till. We are witnesses to the cries of the people who are hindered to bring their sick loved ones to the hospital or even to buy the necessary medicines because of their extreme poverty. We are witnesses to the children who are forced to work in the farms who are supposedly seen in the classrooms.

It is ironic however that because of our desire to help these poor and oppressed families by carrying out a health education on healthy treatment of symptomatic ailments, we are languishing in jail. While undergoing health skills training, combined military and police forces raided the training centre we had rented, and handcuffed, blindfolded, tortured, and illegally detained us in detention cells inside the military camp. Though, we were already transferred from the military camp to the jail administered by civilian authority, we declare that our human and constitutional rights were grossly violated.

Without a lawyer of our choice, we are falsely charged of having participated in “bomb making training” and “illegal possession of firearms.” If we possessed those firearms, we could have fought for our way out. But our blood pressure apparatuses and medical instruments have not much to their high-powered rifles and armoured tanks. We did not squarely face them because we are unarmed community health workers who just want to serve the poor and the marginalized in the communities in our country. At that time of our abduction, we had no choice but to submit ourselves and endure the cruelties inflicted to us by our tormentors.

To boast for the “good” results of the counter-insurgency program of the Arroyo regime dubbed as Oplan Bantay Laya, the state forces exhibited us in public as medical officers and staff of the New People’s Army. We vehemently deny this accusation. We are community health workers who just want to share our knowledge, skills, and talents with the poor people in the different impoverished communities in our country.

Our plight now as detained community health workers is not separated from the plight of the Filipino people. In serving the poor communities, we have seen the injustices being experienced by the poor families who could not afford to earn a living and eat full meals in a day. Our heart breaks with the poor parents who cannot send their children to school and force them to work at an early age just to augment the income of their parents. We cannot help but to be angry in witnessing people who cannot afford to buy necessary medicines for their sick loved ones or bring them to the hospital.

As of now, we stand firm with our resolve to serve the poor while demanding the jail authorities to solve the problem of the poor ventilation of our small cells. We are also coping with poorly cooked and low standard food being served to us. We share our hope to our fellow prisoners charged of common crimes that someday they will also enjoy complete freedom from their inhuman conditions. Sometimes, we cry because of our ordeal, but we are happy because our loved ones and friends are with us. With clinched fists, we are shouting for justice and call on the new regime to set free the 43 health workers and all political prisoners in our country.

In our continuous call for justice and freedom, we are elated that you work and struggle for our immediate freedom. Your continuing support in our struggle strengthens our resolve to steadfastly serve the poor communities in our country.
We are prepared to face the hardships inside the jail. We are also prepared for a long battle in the court of justice. We can do this because our families, friends, and supporters take up our struggle and the struggle of the poor and oppressed people in our country and of the people around the world. We really feel this warm and strong solidarity.

We, the 43 health workers, express our heartfelt gratitude to you, our supporters. We wish you to continue your (moral, political, material and financial) support. Again, thank you!


We have received the following request from Fr. Dionito Cabillas of SELDA (Society of Ex-Detainees for Liberation and Amnesty) and Karapatan. Fr. Dion was the head organizer of the foreigners' visit to the Morong 43 during the recent People’s International Observers Mission to the Philippines. He appeals to Canadians to help the families of the detainees with materials and money, along with continued advocacy until their Supreme Court decision.

Fr. Dion said, "They are also anxious of the sustenance of their families left at home without a breadwinner. Thus, we appeal to our friends here and abroad to continue in their gathering of financial and material support for the Morong 43."


Philippines: Free the Morong 43 Health Workers!

By Émilie Fontaine, Laura Cliche and Emily Misola Richard

The maximum security jail where the health workers are being held is depressing and dirty, especially on a boiling, suffocating day with temperatures rising to 40 degrees. Our international delegation includes participants from Canada, the US, and Australia. After waiting for more than an hour beneath a leaden sky at the entrance to the prison compound, we were allowed to enter after a strict inspection including a strip-search.

The first shock was to see the age of the prisoners, most of who are between 18 and 25. Two of the women are pregnant. We came to offer solidarity and support to the prisoners, but could not restrain our tears on seeing these young women and men so unjustly deprived of their liberty.

free_the_43 They are all health workers and include two doctors, a nurse and a mid-wife as well as trainees and volunteer support workers. They were all participating in a weekend training session devoted to emergency care when they were arrested on February 6, 2010.

Following a typhoon in September 2009 that killed more than 300 people in the capital, Manila, many doctors were critical of the government’s slow response in providing emergency medical treatment to its citizens. Public health workers joined together to express their indignation and to organize themselves in order to be able to offer better services when such a catastrophe occurs. They never suspected that they risked being arrested and tortured for accepting their responsibility to their fellow citizens.

Besides being illegal according to both Filipino and international law, their arrest was carried out in a brutal fashion that still leaves its marks on their bodies. Doctor Mendes, an experienced surgeon who was arrested along with the others, described the arrest as humiliating and said that for three months they were confined in a military camp where they were tortured, sexually harassed, and interrogated in the middle of the night.

One man, Jigs Clamor, visibly distressed by his wife’s imprisonment, explained that the techniques used by the army resemble those of the CIA: “Electrodes or a crown of thorns were placed on their heads, which produce a sense of being dazed, and constant pain. When we complained about this treatment of our loved ones, we were told that this is standard procedure.”

One young detainee, just turned 18, told us in a trembling voice about the torture she experienced: “They would come to get me in the middle of the night , dragging me out of the cell and from the arms of my companions, to interrogate me for hours at a time. Each time another woman was taken out we were terrorized, thinking of the punishment the soldiers would inflict on her.”

Four months after their arrest, no official charges have been laid against the Morong 43, which makes their detention illegal according to Filipino law. Local human rights groups told us this is a common way to harass and silence anyone who is critical of the government.

According to local allies of Amnesty International, more than 1,100 activists have been killed or disappeared over the last ten years. The International Federation of Journalists has declared the Philippines to be the most dangerous place on earth for journalists, ahead of Iraq and Afghanistan where wars are being waged. The UN Special Rapporteur, Philip Alston, has categorically condemned the repressive practices of the Philippine authorities and military, who go unpunished for attacking those working for civil rights.

Jigs Clamor, whose wife, a doctor, is still in jail, held their four-year-old son in his arms as he told us, “The only thing we want is that these health workers be released, so that they can continue their work for the underprivileged, and we are trying by every means available to get the government to listen to us.”

In the face of such severe repression, the international community must pass on their cries for justice and insist that the political authorities in the Philippines conform to international law.

Today we are calling on the Canadian government to urge the newly-elected Filipino government, which will take over at the end of June 2010, to put an end to this reign of violence and terror. This is particularly urgent since there have been six new victims of extrajudicial killings since election day: farmers Julito Etang and Borromeo Cabilis, labour leader Edward Panganiban, human rights worker Benjamin Bayles, and radio journalists Desiderio Camangyan and Joselito Agustin.

We demand the immediate, unconditional release of the Morong 43 healthworkers!

We demand the liberation of all political prisoners in the Philippines!

We demand the immediate application of the recommendations by UN Special Rapporteur Philip Alston!

= = = =
The three authors are human rights activists who were in the Philippines at the time of the elections (7-18 May, 2010) as delegates from Quebec to the non-governmental People’s International Observers Mission (PIOM).

Emilie Fontaine is a political advisor to Bloc québécois MP Serge Ménard (Marc-Aurèle Fortin), and has a degree in Political Communications from the University of Montreal.

Laura Cliche is a Master’s level graduate student in Political Science at the University of Montreal, working on human rights issues in the Philippines.

Emily Misola Richard is studying International Law at the University of Québec in Montréal (UQAM) and currently completing an internship in Manila with the National Union of Filipino Lawyers.

The Canadian campaign to “Free the Morong 43 Health Workers” was inspired by their meeting with political prisoners and their families during the PIOM.


Libérez les 43 travailleurs de la santé

par Émilie Fontaine, Laura Cliche et Emily Misola Richard

29467_10150210578865381_717095380_12986385_4198352_n.jpgLa prison à sécurité maximale où sont enfermés les détenus est triste et sale et tout particulièrement en cette journée étouffante où il fait plus de 40 degrés.

Après plus d’une heure d’attente à l’entrée de la prison sous un soleil de plomb, notre délégation internationale, comprenant 18 participants du Canada, des États-Unis et de l’Australie, peut entrer, mais non sans être soumis à des contrôles stricts, incluant la fouille à nue.

Notre premier choc fut l’âge des prisonniers. Il était impossible de rester insensible devant ce groupe composé en majorité par des jeunes entre 18 et 25 ans, dont deux femmes enceintes. Nous venions partager un message de solidarité avec les détenus, mais nous n’avons pu retenir nos larmes devant ces jeunes femmes et jeunes hommes privés de leur liberté de façon terriblement injuste.

Les travailleurs de la santé, incluant deux docteurs, une infirmière, une sage-femme et de nombreux volontaires, furent arrêtés le 6 février 2010 lors d’une fin de semaine de formation.

Le séminaire portait sur les soins d’urgence ; suite à un typhon qui a tué plus de 300 personnes dans la capitale en septembre 2009, les médecins ont été très critiques à l’égard du gouvernement philippin et sa lenteur à promulguer les soins de base à ses citoyens. Les travailleurs du domaine de la santé se sont associés pour crier leur indignation et s’organiser afin d’offrir eux-mêmes des services en cas de catastrophes. Pendant tout le processus, jamais ils ne se sont doutés être arrêtés et torturés pour une telle solidarité citoyenne.

Leur arrestation, en plus d’être illégale selon les lois philippines et internationales, a été perpétrée de façon brutale, laissant encore aujourd’hui des marques sur le corps des détenus. Le Docteur Montes, chirurgien d’expérience arrêté dans la foulée, nous a décrit ces moments comme étant humiliants autant pour l’arrestation subie que pour les conditions inhumaines de détention. Pendant plus de trois mois, ils ont été confinés dans un camp militaire où ils ont été torturés, harcelés sexuellement et interrogés en plein milieu de la nuit.

Jigs Clamor, visiblement éprouvé par l’emprisonnement de sa femme, a accepté de nous rencontrer pour nous faire part de sa détresse. Il nous explique comment ces techniques utilisées par l’armée ressemblent aux méthodes de la CIA : « Des électrodes ou des couronnes d’épines sont placées sur la tête, créant une sensation d’engourdissement et des douleurs constantes. Lorsque l’on dénonce cette torture de nos proches, on nous répond qu’il s’agit de procédure standard d’opération. »

Une jeune volontaire, qui vient d’avoir 18 ans, a partagé avec nous, la voix tremblante, la torture qu’elle a vécue : « Ils venaient me chercher en plein milieu de la nuit, m’arrachant de ma cellule et des bras de mes collègues pour m’interroger pendant des heures. Chaque fois qu’une femme était prise de la sorte, nous étions terrorisées en songeant aux châtiments que les soldats lui feraient subir.»

Quatre mois plus tard, aucune accusation officielle n’a été déposée contre les 43, rendant leur détention illégale selon les lois philippines. Les organisations locales des droits humains nous ont expliqué que malheureusement, il s’agit d’une façon commune d’harceler, et surtout de faire taire, toutes critiques face au gouvernement.

Cette arrestation de masse exacerbe le climat politique déjà insoutenable des dernières années. Selon les alliés locaux d’Amnistie internationale, plus de 1 100 activistes sont morts ou disparus lors des 10 dernières années. La Fédération internationale des journalistes a déclaré les Philippines le pays le plus dangereux au monde pour les journalistes, triste premier devant l’Irak et l’Afghanistan en situation de guerre. Le rapporteur spécial de l’ONU, Philip Alston, a condamné catégoriquement ces pratiques de répression par les autorités philippines, s’attaquant avec impunité à la société civile.

Jigs Clamor, dont l’épouse médecin est détenue, nous parle en serrant leur fils de quatre ans dans ses bras : « La seule chose que nous voulons, c’est que ces travailleurs de la santé soient relâchés, qu’ils puissent continuer leur travail auprès des démunis, et nous tâchons par tous les moyens de convaincre le gouvernement de nous écouter».

Devant une telle répression, la communauté internationale doit relayer ces cris d’injustice, et exiger que les autorités philippines se plient aux normes internationales.

Aujourd’hui, nous exigeons que le Canada réclame au nouveau gouvernement philippin, qui sera en poste le 30 juin 2010, la fin de ce régime de violence et de terreur.

Nous exigeons la libération immédiate et sans condition des 43 travailleurs de la santé.

Nous exigeons la libération de tous les prisonniers politiques philippins.

Nous exigeons l’application immédiate des recommandations du rapport de Philip Alston, Rapporteur spécial de l’ONU.

===== ===== =====

Les trois auteures sont des militantes des droits humains qui ont représenté la société civile québécoise lors de la Mission d’observation internationale populaire des élections philippines, qui s’est déroulée du 7 au 18 mai 2010 aux Philippines.

Lors de la Mission, elles sont allées à la rencontre de prisonniers politiques et de leurs familles. De ce rendez-vous est née la campagne canadienne « Libérez les 43 travailleurs de la santé ».

Émilie Fontaine est conseillère politique de Serge Ménard, député de Marc-Aurèle Fortin et bachelière en communication politique de l’Université de Montréal.

Laura Cliche est une candidate à la maîtrise au département de science politique de l’Université de Montréal travaillant sur les questions de droits humains aux Philippines.

Emily Misola Richard est une étudiante en droit international à l’UQAM, qui complète présentement un stage à Manille pour l’Union nationale des avocats philippins.


Survivor speaks of human rights horrors in Philippines | AsianPacificPost

The beatings one year ago have left her with a bad shoulder.

The metal handcuffs have left bracelet-like marks on her hands.

The anguish of surviving where many have died gives her harrowing nights.

But Melissa Roxas considers herself lucky.

She lived to talk about the men who abducted and tortured her, unlike the estimated 1,000 people in her country who have been victims of political killings over the past decade.

This week, Roxas, a human rights advocate, brings her story to Vancouver as part of her Canadian tour with the creators of the Filipino film Dukot! (Abduct!) to raise awareness of extra-judicial arrest, torture and execution in the Philippines."

More at: http://www.asianpacificpost.com/news/topnews/article/survivorspeakshumanrightshorrorsphilippines


Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) condemns Israeli aggression on civilians aboard Freedom Flotilla to Gaza

The Centre d'appui aux Philippines - Centre for Philippine Concerns (CAP-CPC) joins with people around the globe in holding the state of Israel guilty of an act of bloody "terror" in attacking unarmed civilians aboard ships of the Freedom Flotilla, guilty only of trying to bring aid to the people of Gaza.

Israel has reach new depths of depravity and lies in trying to disguise it's military assault on these civilians under, once again, the excuse of "self defence". The Canadian government, meanwhile, refuses to take a firm stand against these acts of terror, simply content to exlaim that it "regrets" the loss of life.

This farce has gone on long enough, we demand to bringing to justice of the leaders of Israel and their military for "war crimes" and "crimes against humanity". We demand that Canada denounce this act of blatant agression in international waters as an act of piracy and demand that all those responsible, at all levels of the Israeli state and military machine, be immediately arrested and made to answer in an international court for their crimes.

Our hearts go out to all those who lost loves ones in this disgusting display of military might against a passenger ship. Our hearts also go out to the people of Gaza, who continue to suffer under an inhumane Israeli blockade after suffering from a military onslaught in 2009, the horrendous images of which we witnessed in our living rooms. Enough is enough!!

RCI interview: Stefan Christoff, Montreal member of the People's International Observers Mission

Stefan Christoff, an independent journalist and activist from Montréal, is interviewed by the Radio Canada International program The Link about his participation in the People's International Observers Mission (PIOM). Christoff was one of 89 international observers for the recent May 10, 2010 Presidential elections in the Philippines.

Listen to the audio of the interview here: http://www.rcinet.ca/english/column/the-link-s-top-stories/philippines-elections/