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Volume 2, Number 33              September 22 - 28,  2002            Quezon City, Philippines

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Joema is no terrorist
HK groups throw support to Sison

By the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-HK) and Asian Students Association (ASA) 


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Human rights advocates, civil libertarians, Filipino migrants groups, local Hong Kong associations, and HK-based non-government organizations staged a silent protest in the Netherlands Consulate in Hong Kong to protest what they called as the “unjust and inhuman actions of the Netherlands government to Prof. Jose Maria Sison.”

Two weeks ago, government authorities of Utrecht, where Sison resides, ordered the suspension of subsidy given to Sison as a political refugee in the Netherlands. Previously, the Dutch Minister of Finance froze the joint bank account of Sison and his wife Julieta Sison de Lima.

“The freeze order and the subsequent stripping away of Professor Sison’s basic needs to survive is a treacherous act that denies him of his right to life,” said Connie Bragas-Regalado, chairperson of the United Filipinos in Hong Kong (UNIFIL-HK) and an organizer of the silent protest.

“For the sole reason that the United States government tagged him as terrorist, the Netherlands government has opted to become his judge and executioner just because of such an unfounded and baseless US accusation,” added Regalado.

Meanwhile, Helen Te Hira of the Asian Students Association (ASA), another protest organizer, chided the Dutch government for what she called as “terrorism against political dissenters and political refugees.”

“Since 1998, the Dutch government, together with the governments of US and the Philippines has steadily pushed for the persecution of Joema Sison. He has been denied the right to stay despite their recognition of him as a political refugee. Now he is outrightly denied of his right to life by starving him and forcing him out to live in the streets,”
Te Hira said.

In a petition signed by the HK groups and submitted to the Dutch Consul General AC Brouwer, the groups also aired their concern over the “process used by governments to determine terrorists”. According to them, the case of Joema has shown that it is “without transparency or acocuntability”, and that persons accused are “not given the right to defend themselves.”

Regalado also warned that what is happening to Sison may also happen to other political refugees.

“It is a precedent that spells danger to the lives and security of people who have experienced and are still experiencing the grim future of prosection because of their political beliefs,” she said.

The groups called the Dutch government to uphold the rights of Sison as a political refugee as required by the Refugee Convention and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. They also urged the Netherlands government to recall the recent restriction imposed to Sison and “stop all forms of attacks him and to other progressive Filipinos in Europe.”

Additionally, they pushed for the Dutch officials to instead initiate a process within the United Nations of a transparent and accountable way for determining whether an individual or a group is a terrorist one.

“The harassments and unjustified persecution must stop. Defend the rights of Professor Sison as a political refugee,” the groups concluded.

For reference:  Connie Bragas-Regalado,  Tel. No.: (852) 93572125                

                          Helen Te Hira   Tel. No.: (852)95126046

September 20, 2002   Bulatlat.com

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