KMU leaders march in Cebu: Recognize Joma Sison as refugee, militant labor says

February 8, 2010

After a meeting of its leaders in Cebu City, and in time for Prof. Jose Maria Sison’s birthday, militant labor center Kilusang Mayo Uno today called on the Dutch government to recognize Sison as a refugee, saying he deserves the right to be considered a resident of The Netherlands.

The KMU concluded today its first and only National Council Conference for 2010 which it held in Banilad, Cebu City. The NCC is the KMU’s highest policy-making body in between congresses. With the theme “Struggle for Genuine Change! Fight for Livelihood and Social Justice! (Tunay na pagbabago, ipaglaban! Makaibaka para sa kabuhayan at katarungang panlipunan!),” KMU’s NCC this year discussed the ravages of the economic crisis on the Filipino workers and people, as well as the upcoming elections.

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Meanwhile, progressive leader Sison, who is celebrating his 71st birthday today, continues to suffer persecution in his exile in Europe. The Dutch government, its prime minister and minister of justice in particular, refuses to grant Sison a resident status in The Netherlands. It cites the fact that when it arrived at its decision, Sison was still in the EU’s terrorist list. A European Court decision in Sept. 30, 2009 has since removed Sison from the list.

“We want to make a statement. That’s why we are devoting the end of our NCC to calling for the upholding of Prof. Sison’s rights,” said Elmer “Bong” Labog, KMU chairperson.

The KMU leaders held a press conference at the National Food Authority Training Center in Banilad, then assembled in Fuerte Osmena, marched to Gaisano Metro, and held a short program there. More than 100 people participated in the march and short program.

“Prof. Sison deserves to be granted a resident status in The Netherlands. He is a political refugee who is forced to stay away from his country, which he loves dearly, because of serious threats to his life here,” added Labog.

The labor leader cited the Geneva Convention, the Raad van State decisions in 1992 and 1995, the recognition of the Dutch government in 1996 and the Rechtseenheidkamer in 1997, which all affirmed that Sison is a political refugee. He also cited a decision by the EU Council asserting Sison’s right to a permanent resident status because he poses no threat to his host country.

“The legal basis are all there for the Dutch government to heed. We hope they grant Prof. Sison a permanent resident status. This will be a big step for the advancement of his struggle to exercise his civil and political rights and live a life that is free from political harassment and persecution,” Labog said.

Successful conference

Labog also expressed happiness over the KMU leadership’s meeting in Cebu. “It’s a success. We thank the National Food Authority Employees Union, Mayor Tomas Osmena and the people of the queen city of the south for being our hosts,” he said.

“We were able to unite on various steps to strengthen our organization. We agreed that there is a serious threat that Gloria Arroyo will continue to hold on to power; we plan to organize big protests against this. We were also able to unite on our endorsement of Anakpawis Partylist and of our comrades Satur Ocampo and Liza Maza in the election for the Senate,” Labog added.

“We will foil the attempts that are being made to keep Arroyo in power, at the same time that we go all-out in campaigning for our progressive candidates,” he concluded.

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