Human rights group decry illegal arrests, detentions

HUMAN rights group Karapatan in Southern Tagalog staged their protest in front of Benigno Aquino’s house today to denounce the continued illegal arrest and detention of political prisoners in the country.

Glen Malabanan, secretary general of Karapatan-ST exposed the deceiving tactics of the Aquino government in order to hide its hand on grave human rights abuses.

“Aquino is filing fabricated charges of common crimes to political offenders to make it appear that there are no political prisoners in the country,” she said.

Currently, Karapatan has recorded 224 cases of illegal arrest and detention around the country. Malabanan cited the case of Rolly Panesa, an innocent security guard who was mistakenly arrested for being “a top ranking communist guerrilla leader of Southern Tagalog”.

“The sad thing about this is that the government even justified its use of torture”, she added referring to the brutal injuries Panesa received from the military saying this is a similar move they do to whoever they suspect as “big fish”, such as the arrest and torture of another political prisoner and known New People’s Army commander Tirso Alcantara.

The group is demanding an end to Aquino’s “whitewash of human rights in the international community” and call for the immediate and unconditional release of Panesa along with all the other political prisoners such as Darwin Liwag and Alex Arias, both peasant leaders in Laguna province and many others.

Meanwhile, former political detainee, Axel Pinpin, initiated a simultaneous poetry reading around the globe. Pinpin, who is also a poet, said that one of his prison poems “Political Prisoner’s Song” will be simultaneously read today in different jails in the country as well as by various supporters inside schools and communities. This is part of the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners.

Alcantara together with Allan Jasminez, a writer and National Democratic Front Consultant and other political prisoners in Bicutan Detention Center will read Pinpin’s poem at exactly 1500H (+0800 GMT).

Eduardo Serrano and Nante Gamara, both consultants to the NDF who are detained in Camp Crame have already expressed their participation in the poetry reading. The two have also started their fasting last December 1 as form of protest.

“The symbolic protest action is very heartfelt. Even if we are experiencing hunger because of our fasting, our hearts are full because of the support we got from our comrades and friends,” Serrano said.

Pinpin added that they are also expecting high-profile political prisoners in other countries to join the poetry reading. Among them, journalist Mumia Ali-Jamal, The Cuban 5, punk band Pussy Riot and Kurdistan revolutionary leader Abdullah Öcalan.

The poem is already translated in 7 languages including French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.

A group of young activists from Stuttgart, Germany is also set to translate and hold the poetry reading gig this Monday from where they hold their regular mass demonstrations starting 5AM (12MN in the Philippines).

Pinpin also issued a personal statement for the release of Öcalan that read, “We are fighting the same world capitalist system led by U.S. Imperialism – it is therefore a must that we continue to strengthen our ranks and unite for our common goals.”

Karapatan-ST also launched their week-long Lakbayan ng Mamamayan ng Timog Katagalugan Para sa Karapatan (Southern Tagalog People’s March for Human Rights) today in Lucena City amidst the threat of typhoon Pablo.

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