Saturday, November 06, 2010

'Communist' label on a Filipino activist is a prelude to murder: AHRC

MANILA, Philippines - The Asian Human Rights Commission is deeply concerned that Jean Marie Ferraris, a mining activist attached to the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan or LRC, has been falsely accused as "head of the international financial cell" of the Communist Part of the Philippines in Indonesia.

Falsely accusing human rights and political activists as communists has been routinely practiced by security forces to justify their illegal arrest, detention and extrajudicial killing.

In a report by the Philippine Daily Inquirer today, Retired Police Director Rodolfo "Boogie" Mendoza, a former police intelligence officer, was quoted as having said that Ferraris is a "member of the Central Committee of the CPP" and is the "head (of its) international financial cell" in Indonesia.

He claimed that her presence in Indonesian soil during her arrest on July 5 was part of her role to "collect contributions and revolutionary taxes as well as membership dues from overseas Filipino workers".

Ferraris, a Filipina, was one of those 13 nationals of Asian countries who have been illegally arrested by the Indonesian police during a press conference after its training on Coal Campaign Skillshare organized by the anti-coal community in Cirebon, West Java.

The training was supported by Greenpeace International. Ferraris and her companions were released without being charged on July 6.

Ferraris, also a convener of Panalipdan-Southern Mindanao, a local environmental group; has been deeply involved in campaigning against mining in southern Mindanao. Her organization, the LRC, is also involved in legal and policy research known for its work on advocating for the rights of indigenous people and issues regarding natural resources.

The AHRC demands that the Philippine National Police takes full responsibility for the false allegations that Mendoza made. It must also clarify what authority, if there is any, Mendoza has as a retired police officer. His action has already unnecessarily put the security and safety of Ferraris at serious risk making her a senseless target, not only by the government forces but also illegal armed groups critical of the communists.

The PNP must investigate Mendoza's claims and initiate a prosecution once he could not prove them. They must also ensure that it provide adequate protection that Ferraris requires. This false allegation on Ferraris is a matter of serious concern. This cannot be taken lightly. This practice of falsely labeling human rights and political activists as communists have been a convenient excuse by the police and military to justify subsequent attacks of these persons. It has completely disregarded any notion of due process.

Once a person is labeled a communist, there is a real possibility of him being illegally arrested, detained, falsely charged or murdered, as what it has been happening. This was also the pattern to the murder of hundreds of activists in recent times. Their murders were routinely perpetrated subsequent to being labeled and falsely accused as communists. None of the police, military and government officials who were responsible for spreading these false allegations have been held to account.

Below is the detail about Jean Marie Ferraris’ illegal arrest in Indonesia according to the information received from the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan or LRC:

The activity was a Coal Campaign Skillshare organized by the anti-coal community in Cirebon, in West Java, Indonesia with the support of Greenpeace International. Apart from members of the community, 13 other participants from the Philippines, Thailand, China also joined the activity.

The objective of this training was to bring together people from different parts of the region to share their experiences in their respective countries particularly on the deadly impact of coal and their own learning from their respective anti-coal campaigns.

The Cirebon community hosting the activity has been engaged in an ongoing campaign against a coal company operated by Cirebon Electrik Power Ltd, a consortium of Japanese, Korean and Indonesian investors, which they claim is damaging their environment and has caused loss of livelihood in the area.

The Hong Kong-based Asian Human Rights Commission, founded in 1984, is a regional non-governmental organisation monitoring and lobbying human rights issues in Asia.

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