December 10, 2009
Reference: Atty. Arnedo Valera, Never Again to Martial Law, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To sign the Never Again to Martial Law online petition, visit: http://www.gopetition.com/online/32771.html
US-WIDE MOVEMENT AGAINST MARTIAL LAW IN MAGUINDANAO LAUNCHED ON INT’L HUMAN RIGHTS DAY
Washington DC– Human rights advocates from across the United States commemorated the 61st anniversary of International Human Rights Day by reviving the vibrant anti-martial law, anti-Marcos movement of 30 years ago. Today, the Never Again to Martial Law (NAML) coalition was launched at a press conference in Washington DC. The same evening, actions and forums in support of NAML took place in several cities, including New York City, Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
Amongst the 26 national convenors of NAML are former US Attorney General Ramsey Clark, international human rights attorney Leonard Weinglass, Filipina-American torture survivor Melissa Roxas, and Father Benjamin Alforque of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON). For Clark and Weinglass, both active in the anti-Marcos movement in the 1970’s, the convening of NAML is an extension of their longtime anti-martial law, pro-democracy advocacy for the Philippines alongside the late Philippine Senator Benigno Aquino.
Clark describes martial law as the “rule of tyranny.” According to Clark, “There is no freedom in Luzon if there is no freedom in Maguindanao. I fully support the Filipino people in their struggle for peace and democracy and I hope I see the day when the Filipino people are truly free.”
Clark joined the press conference over the phone, while DC-based convenors of NAML were on hand to present the unity statement of the coalition. The central demand for the US-wide coalition is the immediate lifting of the martial law in the Philippine province of Maguindanao as declared by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo last December 4, 2009, more than two weeks after the shocking Maguindanao massacre that claimed at least 64 civilian lives, including 30 journalists.
Atty. Arnedo Valera, human rights lawyer and the current Legal Counsel of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns, argued that there is no constitutional basis for martial law in Maguindanao. “‘Looming rebellion” is not a factual basis for the declaration of Martial Law. Multiple murders or mass murders are the crimes committed and not rebellion. And by continuously arming the Ampatuan clan, Pres. Arroyo and the military are co-conspirators or at least accomplices to these heinous crimes.”
According to Dante Simbulan, the former Director of the Church Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines and a former political prisoner under Marcos,
|“It is important and necessary to make people aware of the dangers and sufferings of the people under a martial law regime. Although I was a former military man myself, having graduated from the Philippine Military Academy, I was not spared from the horrors of a military regime. I have seen the scars and wounds of those who were tortured by the military and the police in the detention where I was kept and was saddened to know that the torturers were fellow PMA alumni. Martial Law turned these ‘officers and gentlemen’ into monsters.”|
Katrina Abarcar said, “According to Einstein, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. When Marcos declared martial law, it opened the door to abuse and tyranny. Why would we expect something different under Arroyo when, under so-called “civilian rule” we already see such a high level of impunity?”
After 8 years in office, Arroyo’s disapproval rating rates high at over 52%. Scrutinized for its poor human rights record, the Arroyo administration has been able to stave off scores of lawsuits for graft, corruption, and gross human rights abuses due to its sovereign immunity. NAML warns that Arroyo’s declaration of martial law in Maguindanao will not bring justice for the massacre victims, but instead provides a means for Arroyo to extend her stay in office past 2010, as well as a cover-up of her administration’s culpability in the massacre through her close political ties with the known perpetrators, the Ampatuan family.
The convenors of NAML aim to build a broad solidarity movement in the United States against tyrannical rule in the Philippines through regional chapter-building of the coalition, membership recruitment, and activities. Membership to NAML is open to all individuals, organizations, and institutions. In addition to demanding the immediate lifting of martial law in Maguindanao, NAML is calling for clean elections throughout the Philippines in May 2010, a thorough and impartial, criminal investigation into the massacre, a cut in US military aid to the Philippines, the unseating and prosecution of Arroyo, and a rejection of repressive proposals that resemble martial law in the Philippine legislature.
To view and/or sign NAML’s unity statement and it’s 26 national convenors across the US, visit: http://www.gopetition.com/online/32771.html
To contact learn more about NAML, contact Atty. Arnedo Valera at email@example.com. ###
The date posted here is due to our website rebuild, it does not reflect the original date this article was posted. This article was originally posted in Yonip in Dec 14th 2009