Monday, November 05, 2007
Dutch attack on political refugee shows danger of “terror lists”.
Progressive Filipinos and their allies are celebrating the severe blow dealt to the Dutch government’s campaign of harassment against Jose Maria Sison. On September 11, the court in The Hague ordered the release of Sison, who had been held for two weeks on trumped-up charges of having ordered the killing of two counter-insurgency agents in the Philippines.
A poet, scholar, and respected political commentator, Sison has spent most of his life struggling for the national liberation of the Philippines. As founding Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines/New Peoples Army, Sison led the underground movement against the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos until his capture by the military. Following his released after the fall of the dictatorship, Sison traveled the world on a speaking tour. The government of the Philippines cancelled his passport and with the threat of assassination should he return to his homeland, Sison was stuck in The Netherlands as a political refugee for the next 20 years.
Currently, Sison is the chairperson of the International League of Peoples Struggles and Chief Political Consultant to the Negotiating Panel of the National Democratic Front currently in peace talks with the government of the Philippines to seek a just and lasting peace to the civil war that has been raging between the two parties for the past 30 years.
Rather than provide a safe haven from violent repression, the Dutch government has gone out of its way to attack Sison. It has prevented his earning any livelihood or access to personal bank accounts and denied him refugee status, even after the highest administrative court in the land ruled that he was a legitimate political refugee. During his recent arrest he was held in the National Penitentiary in Scheveningen - the same prison used by the Nazis to torture Dutch resistance ighters during WWII - without access to any media, warm clothing, or prescription medication.
Canadian activists immediately condemned the arrest and launched a Free Jose Maria Sison campaign that included petitions and rallies outside the Dutch embassies in Toronto, Montreal, and Ottawa. Similar actions occurred worldwide, with rallies held in Rio de Janeiro, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Manila, and other major cities.
Every charge brought against Sison has proven to be nothing more than empty propaganda and dismissed by courts both in the Netherlands and the Philippines. Yet Sison has been labeled a “terrorist” and blacklisted by the US and EU. When Sison’s inclusion in the EU terror list was overturned by EU courts, the Dutch government launched its attempt to criminalise Sison and the entire National Democratic movement in the Philippines and those that support it abroad.
The arrest of Sison - as well as the raiding of the NDF oices and homes of Filipino refugees in the Netherlands - is part of the Arroyo government’s campaign to demonize the patriotic national democratic movement and to cover up its own heinous human rights abuses, including the murder of over 1,000 unarmed civilians (men, women and children), the creation of over 1 million internal refugees, two stolen elections, ruining the economy by selling out national interests to foreign corporations, massive corruption and theft of state assets, and the arrest and prolonged detainment of political opponents on false charges. Instead of condemning these abuses, the Dutch government has gone along with this campaign because of its economic interests - Shell Oil (a Dutch company) is currently negotiating with the government of the Philippines for lucrative oil extraction contracts.
These crimes have been aided and abetted by the governments of the other G7 nations, including Canada. Canadian aid, rather than being used to beneit the Filipinos, has gone to death squads and supported Canadian mining irms that have caused environmental catastrophes. The Canadian government refuses to put human rights before trade in the Philippines, and continues to use it’s anti-democratic “terror lists” against any forces waging just struggles for social change. Sison’s case shows that you don’t have to actually commit any crime to get on these lists - they are arbitrary tools of repression and could be used against anyone who speaks out against the government. The Canadian people should defend Sison, not just to protect his rights, but to protect their own!