Political prisoners nationwide fast up until Sept. 21

POLITICAL prisoners in 11 jails nationwide are currently on fast until Sept. 21, to tell the public that political prisoners still exist, 40 years after the imposition of martial law.

“The former dictator Marcos was first to deny that there are political prisoners under his regime. Today, the Aquino government echoes the same denial even as 385 political prisoners are jailed in different parts of the country,” said Angeline Ipong, SELDA secretary general.

Among those participating in the nationwide fast are political prisoners at the New Bilibid Prisons Maximum and Medium Security Compounds, Special Intensive Care Area of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology in Bicutan, Correctional Institute for Women and the consultants of the National Democratic Front at the PNP Custodial Center, Camp Crame.

Fasting is also on-going among the detainees at the BJMP District Jail Tangub City, Misamis Occidental, Malaybalay and Valencia City Jails and BJMP Cagayan de Oro.

In Bicol, 90 inmates joined the 17 political prisoners on fast at the Sorsogon Provincial Jail.

Political prisoners in Panay and Cebu also joined the fast, including NDF consultant Ramon Patriarca, also a martial law activist. Patriarca, who has been imprisoned for three years on rebellion charges, is protesting his continued detention in a military stockade at the AFP Central Command in Camp Lapu-Lapu, Lahug, Cebu City.

“The injustice and horrors of martial law however continue to this day. The Marcoses, their cronies and henchmen have not been punished. Meaningful indemnification and restitution have not been done to the victims and survivors of the anti-martial law struggle. Worse, all post-Marcos regimes, including the present one, have treaded the same path of anti-people policies not much unlike in essence as those during the Martial Law period,” Patriarca said in a statement.

“We cannot commemorate martial law by ignoring that during the dictatorship, hundreds were illegally arrested and detained. We want to let the nation to know that we continue to experience the same nightmare now. It sends us chills that under a so-called democracy, persons are arrested and imprisoned because of their political beliefs,” Ipong said.

SELDA said that criminalization of political offenses is no longer a new tactic. “It was also brazenly used by the Marcos dictatorship to discredit activists and government critics and present them as petty criminals and outlaws,” said Ipong.

Included in the political prisoners demand, aside from freedom through a general, unconditional and omnibus amnesty, is to free the sick, elderly and those who have languished in jail for decades.

“Let this week-long fasting and other activities commemorating the 40th year of the declaration of martial law remind us of the horrors of open fascist rule. More importantly, let this be a celebration of the heroism of a generation of women and men who courageously and relentlessly fought the dictatorship until its downfall,” Patriarca ended.


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