By ILPS Commission 3
On the International Day of Action for the Release of Political Prisoners on December 3, the Commission 3[i] (on human rights and political prisoners cause) of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS), the organizations and individuals below salute the fortitude and determination of the political prisoners the world over who continue to take up the cudgels in the people’s struggle for rights and fundamental freedoms, in response to the onslaught of imperialist might and state violence.
We condemn the ruling States’ gross and heinous violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, most often directed at national liberation movements and human rights defenders primarily to quell and silence dissent and suppress resistance to neoliberal economic policies that aggravate widespread poverty. To suppress the people’s resistance, terroristic interventions through military offensives, psywar operations and propping up of puppet governments, whether “popular” or militaristic, are being utilized as standard features of counter-insurgency and “anti-terror” programs shared by the imperialists and their client regimes.
Counter-insurgency and supposed anti-terror operational plans (oplan) equally target participants and supporters of democratic movements. States file trumped up charges against movement leaders and leaders of national liberation movements. Political offenses continue to be criminalized. They are all aimed at legitimizing witch-hunting, red-baiting, arbitrary arrests and detention, harassment and intimidation. They serve to silence the articulators by putting them behind bars. Anti-terrorism and national security laws are vehement against whoever are tagged as “enemies of the state” thereby practically ordering military and police forces to restrict people’s liberties and, worse, get rid of the “problem” through extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearance, arbitrary arrest and illegal detention.
Political prisoners in custody of the military, police, paramilitary or vigilante forces suffer torture of the most sadistic kind. Death, mangled bodies, nervous breakdown and deep psychological scars are direct results of the various types of torture inflicted on the detainees.
Political prisoners in the belly of the beast
In the labyrinth of the US government’s military industrial complex is its prison system, a system being used to institutionalize injustice and brutalise its perceived enemies in its own backyard and wherever it pursues its war of aggression.
The chilling accounts of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center located in the US Naval Base come with rage and loathe. Although, through international pressure on the Obama government, there are still 148 remaining prisoners out of the 779 held there since it opened in 2002, there is no denying the inhuman experience they have had – the physical and mental torture that broke down the state of mind of many, the condition that was worse than that of a caged animal. Most inmates were captured by US forces in Afghanistan and detained without the benefit of trial. They are terrorists in the eyes of the real terrorist – US imperialism and its allies. Yet the 148 remaining inmates from 21 countries are still in limbo.
There is also the case of Mumia Abu Jamal, an internationally known black writer and radio journalist and a former member of the Black Panther Party who has spent the more than 30 years in prison, almost all of it in solitary confinement in Pennsylvania. He was wrongly accused, arrested and detained for murder of a police officer in Philadelphia, and has since been on death row despite a federal court’s overturning of his death sentence. Despite his incarceration, he has been very vocal against the US military industrial complex, overt and covert US military operations abroad, and its neo-colonial economic policies in underdeveloped countries.
The Cuban Five
On September 12, 1998, Gerardo Hernandez, Antonio Guerrero, Ramon Labanino, Fernando Gonzalez and Rene Gonzalez, collectively known since then as the Cuban Five, were arrested in Miami. They were then convicted of “conspiracy to commit espionage, conspiracy to commit murder, acting as an agent of a foreign government and other illegal activities in the United States.”
The Cuban government claimed the five were not spying on the US government. In December 2001, the five were sentenced to varying prison terms. The international community criticized the treatment of the prisoners and the alleged lack of fairness in the trial.
Rene Gonzalez was put on parole for three years from 2011 and allowed to return to Cuba on April 22, 2013. Fernando Gonzalez was released on February 27, 2014 and returned to Cuba.
The Cuban Five are regarded as heroes by the Cuban people.
State of Philippine Political Prisoners
In the Philippines, 487 political prisoners as of October 2014 are languishing in jails all over the country, exposed to inhuman and degrading conditions. The sick and the ailing reached the hospital only when their conditions have worsened. Even pregnant women are not given proper medical attention. This resulted to the death of the child of Andrea Rosal, a peasant organizer who is being persecuted because she happens to be the daughter of the late spokesperson of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Many of the political prisoners have long been in jail and more are being added to the list, due to the continuing counter-insurgency policy of the US-Aquino regime patterned after the US Counter Insurgency Guide of 2009, which prods the practice of the filing of trumped up charges against activists, peace consultants and alleged members of the Communist Party of the Philippines.
Fourteen consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) to the peace talks between the NDFP and the Government of the Philippines (GPH) were illegally arrested and are under detention, in violation of previous peace agreements signed between the two parties, such as the Hague Declaration and the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantee (JASIG). Among the peace consultants detained are Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria Tiamzon, who together with their five companions, were illegally arrested in March this year, in gross violation of the said agreements, while they on their way to monitor the relief, rehabilitation and rebuilding efforts of the revolutionary movement on typhoon Haiyan affected areas. Benito and Wilma Tiamzon are charged with numerous trumped up criminal cases.
In India, which claims to be “the largest democracy in the world,” tens of thousands of political activists are in jails subjected to cruel and inhuman prison conditions and treatment.
The abduction on May 9, 2014 of Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba, a long standing peoples’ rights activist and the joint secretary of the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), by State security forces stems from his leading a protest against a US-directed military campaign, the “Operation Green Hunt”, a genocidal war against the tribal people of India to give way to imperialist transnational mining corporations. Also languishing in the Indian jail is the ailing Kobad Ghandy, an staunch anti-imperialist and well-known for advancing the national and democratic interest of the Indian people.
Political prisoners in Peru and Colombia
In Peru, Manuel Ruben Abimael Guzman Reynoso, a former professor of philosophy and leader of the Shining Path (Sendero Luminoso), which launched an armed struggle in May 1980, was captured by the Peruvian government in 1992 and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of terrorism and treason.
Guzman, 79, is currently detained at the maximum security prison of the naval base of Callao, the port of Lima together with Victor Polay, leader of the Tupac Amaru revolutionary Movement.
Elena Iparraguirre, also a top leader of the Sendero Luminoso and partner of Guzman, is imprisoned at the Virgen de Fatima prison in Lima, where she is incarcerated together with common criminals.
Recently, four human rights lawyers, together with 34 political activists, were arrested in Peru on trumped-up charges. The lawyers, Alfredo Crespo, Carlos Gamero and Manuel Fajardo, are counsels of political activists and prisoners, including Guzman and Iparraguirre.
Columbia, meanwhile, is regarded as the country with the worst human rights record in the Western Hemisphere with 9,500 political prisoners languishing in its jails without charge or due process. These include student activists, unionists, human rights defenders, and leaders of indigenous peoples and people’s organizations who are critical of government policies.
Kurdistan’s Abdullah Ocalan
Abdullah Ocalan, one of the founding members of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey, was arrested in 1999 by the CIA and Turkish security forces in Nairobi and taken to Turkey. With his death penalty sentence commuted to life imprisonment, he has since been held in solitary confinement as the only prisoner on Imrah Island in the Sea of Marmara. The PKK is listed as a terrorist organization by some states and organizations, including NATO, the United States and the European Union, after it launched a war against Turkey to set up an independent Kurdish state and end the oppression of ethnic Kurds.
We, in the International League of Peoples’ Struggles – Commission 3, staunchly uphold the cause of the political prisoners and the struggles they have launched and are participating in. We strongly believe that are being pilloried for their anti-imperialist, progressive and revolutionary beliefs and convictions, which prison walls can never confine. They continue to struggle alongside the oppressed peoples of the world against imperialism and all forms of reaction.
We call for the immediate release of all political prisoners the world over. We exhort all struggling and oppressed peoples of the world to oppose and fight all forms of counter insurgency programs of governments to quash dissents and struggles for fundamental rights and social justice. We enjoin all peoples aspiring for a better world, a human society free from exploitation and oppression, to forge stronger solidarity and overturn the surging and intensifying ferocity of imperialism gone mad in desperation as it clings to its rickety death-bed.
FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
JUNK ALL IMPERIALIST-CONCOCTED COUNTER-INSURGENCY OPERATIONAL PLANS!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!
International League of Peoples’ Struggles – Commission 3
The Reverend Canon Barry Naylor, President, Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines-UK
Peter Murphy, Secretary, Philippines Australia Union Link
Melbourne Unitarian Peace Memorial Church, Australia
Philippines Australia Solidarity Association (PASA)
Philippines-Cuba Friendship Association