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Date Posted: 03:10:36 03/28/06 Tue
Author: Murray Horton
Subject: Philippines Solidarity Network's Follow Up Letter To Helen Clark
28 March 2006
NZ’S FOLLOW UP MONITORING OF PHILIPPINES HUMAN RIGHTS CRISIS
Dear Ms Clark,
The Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa thanks you for responding to the urgent request from ourselves and numerous others, and personally raising the issue with President Macapagal-Arroyo of the systematic violation of human rights that arose from her imposition of the State of National Emergency in February. It is important that she be made personally aware by a fellow Head of Government that the world is closely watching what she is doing and is concerned about her behaviour.
However, although the State of Emergency was lifted after one week, the political crisis in the Philippines is far from over and the latest batch of political prisoners (including elected Representatives) remain in prison or under threat of arrest.
What does the New Zealand government plan to do by way of follow up monitoring of this crisis? We urge you to call upon the Philippines to release Congressman Crispin Beltran and the other political prisoners seized during the State of Emergency, and that the threat of arrest be lifted from the five other Party List Representatives currently besieged in the sanctuary of Congress.
We urge you to instruct the New Zealand Ambassador to personally visit Representative Beltran in prison to make it clear that New Zealand cares for his welfare, and that the Embassy has a monitor in court at any hearings of charges against him and those facing similar charges.
This action would be a logical progression from NZAID co-sponsoring the United Nations Development Agency’s 2005 Human Rights Report on the Philippines, which came complete with an Introduction from the NZ Ambassador, saying that New Zealand cares about human rights in the Philippines. Your visit to the Philippines this month coincidentally provided a once in 20 years opportunity for a New Zealand Prime Minister to personally tell a Philippine President that this country cares about the systematic human rights violations in that country. New Zealand has an obligation to keep up the pressure on the Philippine government to restore and respect the human rights of its long suffering people.
Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa
Box 2450, Christchurch, New Zealand
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