New Zealanders support human rights groups appeal to release political prisoners

HUMAN rights advocates in New Zealand welcome the resumption of formal peace talks between the Government of the Philippines (GPH) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) in Norway this week.

The  Auckland Philippines Solidarity (APS) also expressed  support to the appeal of human rights groups for President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to order immediate release of over 300 political prisoners in the country.

Luke Coxon, APS spokesperson, said “Ignoring the calls for freedom of political prisoners would be a gross disrespect of his own father who staged hunger strikes when he himself was made a political prisoner by the Marcos dictatorship.

Twenty-five years ago, the freedom and democracy-loving people of New Zealand and around the world rejoiced with the Filipino people when they ousted a dictator in February 1986. In his message to the people of Egypt, stated: “As Filipinos did in 1986, Egyptians must now begin the work of rebuilding their institutions. We stand in solidarity with Egypt and all people who long for peaceful and meaningful change.”

As the Philippines marks the 25th anniversary of EDSA People Power, we just hope that Pres. Aquino will not be deaf to the continuing calls for genuine democracy, freedom and justice in his own country. 25 long years have passed, yet the country’s biggest plunderers from the Marcoses to the Arroyos and their cronies remain free, Coxon said.

Coxon said “It is appalling that community health workers, human rights defenders and advocates for meaningful change in the Philippines are the ones imprisoned, tortured and separated from their families. While Aquino’s campaign battle cry against corruption won him the presidency, the former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and her cohorts who cheated and robbed the nation for 9 years continue to evade accountability .”

In the spirit of international solidarity, we ask Pres. Aquino to heed the appeals of  detainees who will hold another fasting on February 15-21 to press for freedom and justice for all political prisoners, including the 3 male health workers among the Morong 43 who continue to face trumped up charges even as the others have been released upon the dismissal of charges against them by local courts in December last yea, the APOS said in a statement.

The group hosted the 2010 peace speaking tour of Luis Jalandoni and Coni Ledesma in New Zealand.

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