Tag Archive: United Nation


Hear the voices of the oppressed

universal-declaration-of-human-rightsSince 1950, the United Nations has commemorated the historic adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as a “common standard of achievement for all people and all nations.”

Ironically, on its 64th anniversary today, millions of people around the world still long to realize at least the most basic of this common standard for humanity: the recognition of the “inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family as the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”

The continuing uprisings in the Arab world, the protests sweeping major cities and urban centers in Europe, the Americas and Africa, the continuing difficult situations in Asia, all highlight deficiencies of human rights in governance and the non-recognition of peoples’ aspirations for inclusion and a desire for meaningful participation in public affairs that affect their lives.

Public demonstrations and assemblies are deeper than mere assertions of the individual’s civil, political, economic and cultural rights. They are demands to take part in decision-making, an assertion of a sovereign power that is abused by many state leaders.

Instead of settling issues through genuine dialogues and consultations, most governments trample basic freedom of expression, assembly and association in the guise of “national interests and security.”

Lately in Singapore, human rights defenders and bus drivers, He Jun Ling, Gao Yue Qiang, Liu Xiangying and Wang Xian Jie, who were employed by the state-controlled public transport operator SMRT Ltd., were charged in court with “inciting an illegal strike” among their co-workers. They protested against poor living conditions in company dormitories and low wages.

In Myanmar, authorities resorted to old violent methods in a clear attempt to silence growing dissent. Riot police attacked protest camps near the Letpadaung mine, setting camps on fire, burning protesting monks and arresting protest organizers Ko Wai Lu, Daw Shan Ma, Ko Myo Chit, Ko Ye Lin, Daw Naw Ohn Hla and Ko Nyi Nyi.

They were calling for environmental protection and reclaiming their lands that were confiscated by the joint venture of China’s Wanbao Company and the military-owned Union of Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd.  There is continuing ethnic violence in Rakhine state and persecution of Rohingya people.

In the Philippines, extrajudicial executions of human rights defenders and mining activists continue. Armed men believed to be hired goons, or associated with private armies and paramilitary groups, carry out most of the killings. Appalling violations are perpetrated by soldiers acting on behalf of private corporations and/or on mere suspicions.

 

 

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Greed of the few endangers happiness of the many…

 

The world marked the International Day of Peace last week, on September 21, the same day the Philippines marked the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law.

This year, the United Nations called on countries around the world to work for “sustainable peace for a sustainable future.” The UN statement highlighted the use and abuse of land and natural resources in instigating conflict situations.

The UN urged member states to initiate “ceasefires” and stop the wanton destruction of the environment and the bloody massacres of people out to defend their ancestral domains.

Early this month, gunmen ambushed a Subanen tribal leader in the southern Philippines. Timuay Locenio Magda survived but his 11-year-old son Jason did not.

The incident allegedly arose from a dispute over ancestral domain claims among mining interests in the area. The attack on Magda was the 36th documented incident in the area in the past two years.

In South Korea, villagers of Gangjeong have been protesting the construction of a naval base on Jeju Island. The island has been dubbed the “Island of Peace” by the government but peaceful protests were met with force and violence.

In Cambodia, the government’s abuse of law and misuse of the courts have led to the displacement of the Boeung Kak and Borei Keila communities in Phnom Penh. Activists and human rights defenders like Yorm Bopha and Tim Sakmony, who were arrested on September 4 and 5, respectively, are also persecuted.

In Myanmar, Wai Lu was arrested in early September for helping farmers win back their land from a copper mining company in Latpadaung mountain range.

Attacks against communities underscore the connection of peace, human rights and the aggressive promotion of “progress” that displace people. And as conditions of people worsen, governments create “illusions” to cover up their violations and obligations.

Governments speak of peace and draw a future that is far removed from the aspirations of their people. Peace has been corrupted by political and economic individualism and greed, yet it remains a symbol of resistance and a source of courage for the afflicted.

Peace and sustainable future describes the legitimacy of the continuing struggle of indigenous peoples, communities and environmental activists in protecting ancestral land, their life, culture and future against corporations and armed groups.

Peace provides reason for the assertion of communities and peoples who debunk the idea of peace as a mere construct. These communities assert that peace is an action fueled by inspirations and sacrifices of peoples and nations searching for a sustainable future.

As the world celebrates the “International Day of Peace,” peoples around the world continue to clamor for it, act on it and die for it.

In the same manner, Filipinos remember the 20 years of martial law to remind themselves that tyrants can be overthrown, people have the power, and peace is a possibility.

 

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On Tuesday, the United Nations marked the “International Day in Support of Torture Victims.” It was a significant day filled with simple and substantial ironies.

In Manila, about 600 human rights advocates, military and police personnel “tortured” motorists who were stranded on a major thoroughfare while a procession demonstrating against torture passed.

A more significant irony was the declaration of the country’s police and military headquarters as “torture-free zones” even as detainees claimed the contrary.

Freedom from torture is neither a palliative nor a piece of legislation that a government brags about to hide its non-compliance. Freedom from torture is supposed to be a product of an organizational culture deeply imbedded in the practice of good policing and security service.

 

Read Full Article:  http://www.ucanews.com/2012/06/27/defeating-the-twisted-culture-of-torture/

26 June 2012

PRESS STATEMENT

In 1997, the United Nations General Assembly decided to mark this historic date and designated 26 June each year as International Day in Support of Victims of Torture.

On this significant day, the Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas together with the human rights communities worldwide commemorates this important date in pushing through a much needed process of globalizing human rights and acknowledging torture, and all forms of inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as absolutely prohibited and universally illegal.

Torture has no place in a civilized society like ours. But we are gravely concerned of its continuing practice not only to persons under investigation but against human rights defenders.

A recent case showed that farmer-leader Franklin Barrera, 18, claimed that he was abducted and tortured by the military. This happened on June 7, 2012 in Lopez, Quezon Province.

Barrera was allegedly hit in the nape with a rifle butt when he failed to identify the persons in the picture presented by the military. He claimed that he was forced to swallow three spoonful of salt and made to drink water to liquefy it. He managed to escape and was eventually confined at Doña Martha Memorial Hospital in Atimonan, Quezon.

Given this incident, we call not just for a reorientation but also reformation of our institutions in the work for human rights, particularly the protection and promotion of the rights of human rights defenders with the likes of Barrera.

Soon we hope that human rights defenders are truly considered partners in the creation of a worldwide culture of human rights, peace and development — where torture becomes a thing of the past and where human rights defenders are protected in the conduct of their duties.

In the latest United Nation’s process of Universal Periodic Review (UPR) last month, the Philippines claimed a decrease in the number of reported cases of torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings; but, one victim of any human rights violations is too many. Efforts to prosecute perpetrators remain insufficient. And there is still much concern over slow convictions for human rights violations.

Up until now, cases involving Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, Jr, who is accused of torture, killing and disappearance of political activists have not been resolved. Palparan is still at large.  Based on unconfirmed reports he is currently under the protection of close friends in the military and private individuals.

It is not a question of whether or not cases of torture have been lessened.  It is on how our government solves and permanently eradicates this procedure in their practices. The police and military should seriously respond to this challenge by identifying concrete steps, clear policy and truthful implementation of their sworn duty based on the international standards of human rights.

Finally, as a measure of sincerity to end cruel, degrading and inhuman act, the government especially President Benigno Aquino III must openly declare war against torturers, and yield them with appropriate penalties they deserve.###

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