FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2012
Reference: Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines, firstname.lastname@example.org
FILIPINO-AMERICAN GROUPS SHINE A LIGHT ON HUMAN RIGHTS IN COMMEMORATION OF INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
December 10, 2012 marked the 64th annual International Human Rights Day (IHRD). Initiated by the United Nations in 1948, IHRD highlights those who have fallen victim to or survived human rights violations. In the US, the Filipino-American human rights organizations Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (CHRP); with chapters in New York (NYCHRP), Portland (PCHRP), and San Francisco (SFCHRP); and Katarungan: Center for Peace, Justice, and Human Rights in the Philippines, culminated their 10 Days of Action with nationwide events for the Stop the Mining! Stop the Killings! Campaign. The Stop the Mining! Stop the Killings! Campaign condemns the October 18th slaying of Juvy Capion and her two sons by the 27th Infantry Battalion (IB) of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). Daguil Capion, Juvy Capion’s husband, had been targeted by the military for leading the B’laan tribe against the entry of Xstrata-SMI’s Tampakan mining project.
In Portland, a vigil was held on Sunday, December 9th, at Rocky Butte Park. It paid tribute to the victims of the recent Tampakan Massacre and all victims of human rights violations in the Philippines. Rossella De Leon, Secretary General of PHCRP stated that “with the continuous extrajudicial killings since the implementation of President Noynoy Aquino’s Oplan Bayanihan in July 2010, it’s crucial to be aware of the injustices that are being committed against Filipinos and allies, and that’s where PCHRP comes in – we educate, organize, and mobilize our community to uphold human rights as part of our commitment to support the human rights struggle in the Philippines and all over the world.”
Following the vigil, Patrick Villaflores, PCHRP Mass Campaign Officer, thanked participants and passers-by for their “presence and support at the PCHRP Vigil for Human Rights on the eve of International Human Rights Day. Let’s all continue to demand for justice for the victims of the Tampakan Massacre and all victims of human rights violations in the Philippines.”
Events on December 10th began when members of Katarungan Center for Peace, Justice and Human Rights in the Philippines delivered a petition signed by 350+ people in support of the Stop the Mining! Stop the Killings! Campaign, seeking justice for the slain Capion family, to the office of Ambassador Jose L. Cuisia, Jr. at the Philippine Embassy in Washington D.C.
That evening in New York, NYCHRP held its 2nd Annual Lights for Rights in NYC at Union Square Park. NYCHRP, along with members of other community organizations, exhibited an art installation of envelopes with names of international human right honorees, illuminated by glow sticks, to honor victims and survivors of human rights violations.
While collecting signatures for the Stop the Mining! Stop the Killing! Campaign, Krystle Cheirs of NYCHRP explained that “our US tax dollars are being used to fund military aid to the Philippines. When the Philippines military commits egregious acts against human rights, we are essentially funding the deaths of innocent civilians–including women and children. We need to cut US military aid to the Philippines now!”
“It is within the broad similarities between victims of state repression in the Philippines, Palestine by Israel, and the members of our own communities by the NYPD and FBI that brought us together to shed light on the atrocities that happen even on our own soil, despite our democratic system,” noted another NYCHRP member, Hanalei Ramos, when describing the variety of honorees being commemorated in the Lights for Rights art installation.
Later that day in San Francisco, SFCHRP and local BAYAN-USA organizations babae SF, Anakbayan-USA and BAYAN-NorCal, gained audience with Deputy Consul General Jaime Ramon T. Ascalon at the Philippine Consulate. At this meeting, the organizations relayed to the Deputy Consul General the demands of the people; a letter from Erita Capion, sister-in-law to Juvy Capion; and the CHRP letter of demands regarding the Tampakan Massacre.
Upon hearing the concerns of the human rights delegation that visited his offices in the consulate, Deputy Consul General Ramon T. Ascalon seemed more concerned with projecting the fallacy that multinational mining companies are positive, and ‘help in the development’ of the Philippines and local communities by ‘providing jobs.’
“At no time did he seem to express the concern of millions of Filipinos and of the human rights delegation at his office over the plight of the Lumad peoples in Southern Mindanao over their displacement and harassment by AFP and by the plans of Xstrata-SMI to evict them from their ancestral homeland. At no time did he even offer any type of condolences for the AFP perpetrated massacre of the Capion family. It was as if our concerns, and the cries of the victims of political killings, were unheard,” said Rupert Estanislao, Chairperson of SFCHRP.
Jack Stephens, Educational Discussion Officer of SFCHRP, continued, “There is a trend within the Philippines when it comes to multinational corporations, where an increase of human rights abuses and violations within the communities they inhabit, persist. this is true, especially in the mining sector. As soon as these multinational companies come into an area, the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) become their hired militias and the mouthpieces of these multinational companies, spewing their propaganda. As a result, these companies’ exploits are protected at all costs, and concerned Philippine citizens and nationals are harassed or murdered in the process.”
While International Human Rights Day is commemorated but once a year, Filipino people remain fighting for justice daily. The Philippines’ most militarized regions are located in communities resisting aggressive foreign development, including large-scale mining corporations which have threatened the livelihood of hundreds of thousands of people through environmental destruction, displacement, and violent repression.The New York, Portland and San Francisco chapters of the Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines and the Katarungan Center for Peace, Justice and Human rights in the Philippines continue to condemn the Tampakan massacre and advocate for the rights and welfare of the Filipino people living in the Philippines, US and all over the world.
JUSTICE FOR THE CAPION FAMILY AND ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS!
END ALL US MILITARY AID TO THE PHILIPPINES!
FIGHT FOR NATIONAL DEMOCRACY & GENUINE INDEPENDENCE FOR THE PHILIPPINES!