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Call for release of political prisoners

09:57 PM October 11, 2011

This is in reference to the article titled “Most of us were arrested without warrant” (Inquirer, 10/9/11), which appeared on the Talk of the Town page.

We, peace and human rights advocates from New Zealand, support the urgent plea for President Aquino to grant all political prisoners a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty. Denying persons who are fighting government corruption and advocating change their freedom is a mockery of democracy.

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We find it alarming that to the thousands of unresolved cases of human rights violations under the Arroyo presidency have been added, during the little-over-a-year-old Aquino administration, another 48 cases of extrajudicial killings and five enforced disappearances, while 336 political prisoners remain in detention. Equally alarming is the fact that many peasant and trade union activists, social justice and human rights advocates, including church workers and at least one labor rights lawyer, are again being threatened with arrest on trumped-up charges that had been filed at the time of Arroyo, and now being revived under Mr. Aquino’s watch.

We are also aware that persons who played significant roles in the peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front are among the hundreds of victims of enforced disappearances and illegal detentions.

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We are hopeful that a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty to all political prisoners will be granted through a presidential proclamation.

With his vow to pursue the “righteous path” in mind, we plead with President Aquino to grant freedom to political prisoners who, like his father, have endured so much suffering in detention. And let such act be his great tribute to his parents who fought hard for democracy. Let us never again tolerate torture, political imprisonment and the horrors of martial law.

—MURRAY HORTON,

secretary, Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA), [email protected], [email protected];

DAPHNA WHITMORE,

convenor, Auckland

Philippines Solidarity (APS), [email protected]

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ROD PROSSER, convenor,

Wellington Kiwi Pinoy (WKP)

[email protected]

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TAGS: amnesty, Aquino, letters, Political prisoners
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