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PRESS STATEMENTS & INTERVIEWS, 2001 - Present
Defending the right to fight for liberation
Jose Maria Sison (Philippines) on the inclusion of the CPP/NPA in the US list of ‘foreign terrorist organizations’
Bert De Belder, Workers’ Party of Belgium
US imperialism, followed by their European allies, is attacking more and more national liberation movements and communist parties. On August 9, US Secretary of State Colin Powell added the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New People’s Army to what is now a list of 34 so-called ‘foreign terrorist organizations’, which also includes the FARC (Colombia), the PFLP (Palestine) and the DHKP/C (Turkey). On August 19, the Slovak parliament is due to vote on the prohibition of communist propaganda. In other Eastern countries, such as Russia, Latvia and Poland, communist parties are equally faced with enhanced repression.
The Netherlands is now threatening to apply so-called ‘anti-terrorist’ measures, such as the freezing of bank accounts, on Filipino revolutionaries residing in the Dutch city of Utrecht. Among them is Jose Maria Sison, the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), the alliance of revolutionary organizations led by the CPP. On August 14, he gave a press conference on this issue.
Who are the real terrorists?
Jose Maria Sison. Nowadays the word terrorism is much abused, as was the case before with the term ‘subversion’. The US uses this as an excuse to go after perfectly political movements fighting for national freedom and democracy. It seems as if we’re back to the times of Hitler, when you could so easily be accused of being a "dirty terrorist" or "communist", with a sense of hatred. But it is common knowledge that many real terrorist organizations are created by the US itself. The Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA. The same is true with the Abu Sayyaf in the south of the Philippines.
Terrorism is usually associated with the assassination of innocent civilians, the wanton destruction of property, the maltreatment of captives, and the like. These are precisely the kind of things that the New People’s Army never does. The NPA is treating the people humanely and is respecting their human rights. It abides strictly by its own Rules of Discipline, and the organs of people power follow the Guide for Establishing the People’s Democratic Government, which serves as the constitution for the areas under NPA control. The NDFP has assumed responsibility for abiding by the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I (international law in situations of internal armed conflict) and has deposited the pertinent declaration of such commitment with the Swiss Federal Council. In the course of peace negotiations, in 1998 the NDFP signed with the Manila government a Comprehensive Agreement to Respect Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
While accusing others of committing terrorism, the US and the Manila puppet government are actually violating human rights and committing terrorism. Over the past year, 23 leaders of the legal progressive party Bayan Muna have been killed, to cite just one example.
What are the real objectives of the US?
Jose Maria Sison. If we make a strategic analysis of Philippine President Macapagal’s recent declaration of all-out war against the revolutionary movement, and of the designation of the CPP and the NPA as ‘foreign terrorist organizations’ by the US State Department, we can discover the real purpose of the US. It wants to destroy the peace negotiations between the NDFP and the Manila government. It wants to introduce more US troops in the Philippines under the pretext of going after the NPA. It wants to set up new military bases in the country, ten years after the existing US military bases in the country were closed. It wants to grab the oil resources of Mindanao and of the waters surrounding Palawan. And it wants to strengthen itself in the Asian region, against China, Korea and even against its own ally, Japan.
Bush is crazy. He is hitting in many directions at the same time: the Al Qaeda, Iraq, Colombia, the Philippines. But behind these different nasty operations is a single unifying purpose. The problem with monopoly capitalism is that it is now in a very deep crisis, comparable to the Great Depression of the 1930s. The US wants to revive its economy by increasing military production. So, it says, whoever wants to be assured of profit should put his money in the defense industry.
Why is the US particularly targeting you?
Jose Maria Sison. I am overrated. The Central Committee of the CPP, its Military Commission and the command structures of the NPA are all in the Philippines. I admit having been the founder and first chairman of the CPP, from its re-establishment in 1968 until my capture in 1977, but today I am just the chief political consultant of the NDFP. What the US can never forgive me, is that I have been one of the pioneers who revived the anti-imperialist and anti-feudal movement in the Philippines in the early 60s, after the Philippine government had suppressed the armed revolutionary movement in the early 50s, with US military assistance. For this reason, I have never been granted a visa for the US, not even to visit my mother and my sister when they died there of cancer in the early 1990s.
What if the Dutch government freezes your bank accounts?
Jose Maria Sison. The Dutch government would be stupid if it would simply do the bidding of the US and Manila governments. There is this fairy tale that the CPP/NPA has 24 million dollar stashed away in foreign bank accounts. This is a big lie, coming from the military. To my knowledge, the CPP is a very intelligent organization and it has no money stashed abroad. For its operations, it relies on the support of the Filipino people.
The truth is that there are only some small bank accounts here, belonging to individuals or foundations with legal personalities. This morning, my personal bank account stood at 1245.46 euro. If the Dutch government would want to freeze this account, they should know that they would be blocking their own money: it comes from the Dutch agency under the Social Affairs Department which pays me the measly amount of some 200 euro a month as a non-recognized asylum seeker. I would have more if I would be allowed to work here. In fact, I am but a poor unemployed teacher’ not allowed to work in the Netherlands.
What is your legal status in the Netherlands?
Jose Maria Sison. As a political refugee, I am under the protection of the Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention, so I cannot be removed from the Netherlands. The appeal regarding my application for asylum is due to be decided by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. In the current climate of antiterrorism it might be turned down once more. This procedure is now on its fifth year, but the first time I applied for asylum in the Netherlands was in 1988. That makes 14 years! I might even land in the Guinness Book of Records!
What do you expect to happen, and what do you plan to do?
Jose Maria Sison. With the Patriot Act,
in the US today anything fascist can be done. If you are Arab
looking or you are a Muslim, they can arrest you without any
reason and hold you incommunicado indefinitely. In the
Netherlands, this is not yet the case. I will stand by my
rights. I will continue to use the freedom of expression to
speak for national liberation and democracy. And it is the word
liberation that the US hates most, because it means freedom from
its imperialist system of exploitation.