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NEW YORK–An unprecedented death toll of over 35 political killings of human rights activists, lawyers, priests, and members of various cause-oriented organizations in the Philippines since January 2005 has given rise to international action from compatriots abroad. In response, the New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), a human rights action group involved in monitoring human rights activity in the Philippines, will be sponsoring an emergency human rights summit in New York City. The event will take place Thursday, June 16th, 6pm at the United Nations Church Center, 777 UN Plaza, corner of 44th St and 1st Avenue in Manhattan.

“Filipinos in the United States need to know that there is very much an undeclared martial law in effect back home,” states Berna Ellorin of NYCHRP. “The onslaught of the Hacienda Luisita massacre this past November, where over one thousand unarmed sugarcane workers on strike were met with bullets by the Philippine National Police in Tarlac, has signified the rise of unabated state terrorism and human rights atrocities under the Macapagal-Arroyo regime. Most of these HR victims are members of progressive, cause-oriented, and openly-critical groups legitimately struggling for social change, such as Bayan Muna, BAYAN, Karapatan, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), and Gabriela. The trend now shows that public dissenters to government are not only subject to harassment, but abduction, illegal detainment, torture, and more often than not death by gunshot in broad daylight. Such were the cases for BAYAN-Ilocos Region secretary-general Romy Sanchez, Hacienda Luisita strike supporter Fr. William Tadena, Ernesto Bang of the progressive partylist AnakPawis, and human rights lawyer Felidito Dacut to name a few.

“The human rights violations at present are graver and more frequent than that of the time of the Marcos dictatorship. We are calling this summit in light of a silent Philippine president and censored press, who are playing dumb and have kept mum despite the skyrocketing number of deaths and disappearances of their own countrymen,” adds Ramon Yusin. Yusin, a member of NYCHRP and the New York chapter of ANAKBAYAN, a national youth organization in the Philippines also added, “GMA’s administration not only takes home the prize for worst track record in securing human rights for the Filipino people since her rise to office back in 2001, but her no holds barred, open-door policy for letting more and more U.S. troops back in the Philippines under the pretext of Bush’s war against terrorism also poses a serious threat to the state of human rights for the Filipino people.”

NYCHRP, as a member organization of BAYAN-USA, a multi-sectoral alliance of Filipino organizations in the U.S., is also fielding prospective U.S. delegates for the upcoming International Solidarity Mission (ISM) this coming August 12th in the Philippines. The purpose of the ISM is to bring international attention to the Philippine human rights situation by sending fact-finding teams to five regions. The specific regions were chosen because those areas have tracked the largest number of human rights violations in recent years.

“U.S.-based Filipinos and Americans critical of this ongoing international war must begin to examine how it translates concretely into machineries of state terror in countries like the Philippines, where U.S.-backed regimes such as that of Macapagal-Arroyo enact red-baiting tactics and promote anti-terror hysteria in order to inflict terror upon and silence legitimate people’s movements. Just as the Marcos’ Martial Law provided reason for the influx of U.S. solidarity and international pressure against a fascist regime, the time has come again for a new generation of U.S. solidarity to link arms with the Filipino people against state terror under a new dictatorship,” Yusin ended.

For more information on the ISM 2005 or the upcoming summit, contact NYCHRP care of Berna Ellorin at nychrp@yahoo.com

Contact:
Berna Ellorin
New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP)
nychrp@yahoo.com