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Migrante Australia calls on President Duterte to free all political prisoners

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Migrante Australia calls on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte to free all political prisoners.

Below is their full statement:

FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!

Today, on the eve of the 66th year since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Migrante Australia calls on President Rodrigo Duterte to respect and honour the human rights of political prisoners in the Philippines.

That 19 political prisoners were temporarily released for the peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) is all very well, but not releasing the over 400 political prisoners still languishing in jails across the country is a continuing violation of their human rights and a prolongation of the injustice done unto them.

We strongly urge President Duterte – in the spirit of Christmas goodwill and the 66th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – to make good in his recent vow to work on the release of some 165 political prisoners (25 elderly and 140 sickly) before Christmas Day.

In the Philippines, political prisoners are purposely kept away from the limelight to veil the government’s propensity to quell people’s dissent and social discontent through illegal arrests and detention. They are made invisible by slapping them with trumped up cases of murder, multiple murder, frustrated murder, arson, kidnapping, robbery in band, illegal possession of firearms among others. By denying the political nature of their offences, political prisoners are reduced to criminals when in fact, they are human rights defenders who fight for genuine land reform, decent jobs and living wages, free education and health services, decent and accessible housing.

The occurrence of political prisoners in the Philippines will continue for as long as the government continues to treat human rights defenders, advocates of the poor and the oppressed and activists fighting for better lives for all Filipinos as enemy rather than addressing their demands for socio-economic and political reforms. And by not addressing the socio-economic and political problems in the Philippines, President Duterte continues the legacy of his predecessors of grave human rights violations. This is why we urge President Duterte not to stray away from the path of peace he has started with the NDFP.

And this is why we would like President Duterte to find the political will to release ALL political prisoners to pave the way for working together for just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

No justice, no peace!
Free all political prisoners! General unconditional amnesty now!
Stop the filing of trumped-up criminal charges against activists and dissenters!

9 December 2016


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