Editorial: Prisoners of Conscience

www.nordis.net

Political prisoners, are people who are persecuted and imprisoned for their beliefs usually critical of their government. In the country today Karapatan, the Alliance For The Advancement Of People’s Rights in the Philippines, keeps tab of those whose human rights are violated or simply those victimized by government and the violence of the armed forces because they can no longer tolerate the multi forms of graft and corruption in government. As of March this year the tabulation of political prisoners show there are a total of 503 political prisoners in the different jails all over the country. 38 are elderly, 45 are women, 118 are sickly, 6 are NDFP staff or consultants, 173 were arrested under Duterte, there are 8 imprisoned in the Cordillera region.

Recent arrests that have made the news will have to be added yet to an update of this tabulation list include: in the Cordillera are two indigenous-farmers, the Dazon brothers “captured” by the army from their private home-yard in Besao, Mountain Province and were listed as rebels; the 14 workers and 9 journalists arrested in the violent dispersal of the worker’s picket lines on July 30, 2018 in NutriAsia, Bulacan who were on strike for the regularization of their decade long contractual employment and the company’s non compliance to labor standards; the recent issuance of a warrant of arrest for former Bayan Muna representatives Satur Ocampo and Teddy Casiño, former Gabriela partylist representative and National Anti-Poverty Commission Secretary Liza Maza, and former Anakpawis representative and former DAR Secretary Rafael Mariano.

These comprise the spectrum of identified targets of state repression against the Filipino people especially among the ranks of outspoken citizens, activists, human rights defenders, diligent journalists, and church leaders, people with a conscience for their community — the usual victims of illegal arrest or abductions and trumped up charges.

The existence of political prisoners is a trademark of state repression. It is also a sign of the growing resentment, dissatisfaction of the people directed to the government system that does not serve their basic needs and public services supported by the country’s or the people’s common resources.

Conscientious outspoken citizens, peasant activists, worker activists, student activists, human rights defenders, and church workers are not the people’s enemies and in the present situation, they need the community’s support. Let us be their friends for it is not for their own selves that they are in jail. Pointing out the problems in government and demanding government attention or rectification is not a crime.

One of them in our ranks can be a blessing especially when we can not comprehend what is eroding our common security and values. Of course, especially now that state repression is increasingly threatening society, there will always be those who try to blind us with disinformation and fear. It takes a lot of courage from each citizen to have a clean government that really shall serve the people. Speak out the truth, free the voices suppressed against their will, organize. Free all political prisoners. Stop the persecution of dissent. # nordis.net

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