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Fil-Am Activists Demand Sison Removal from U.S. 'Terror' List

Posted 2:25 p.m., July 4, 2008

After South African Leader Nelson Mandela was dropped off from the United States immigration watchlist of possible terrorists, an activist group called on the US government to eliminate Prof. Jose Maria Sison from the Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) list of the U.S. Department of State.

U.S. President George W. Bush signed off on a bill, effective Tuesday, that would allow Mandela to travel to the U.S. without having to get certification from the U.S. Secretary of State that he is not a terrorist. The U.S. Department of State has also dropped Mandela's organization, the African National Congress (ANC), from the same list.

In a statement, Chito Quijano, chairperson of the U.S. chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan-USA), said, "Categorizing someone as admired as Nelson Mandela and the ANC as terrorists is an indication that U.S. government labels are ridiculous and not indicative of the truth. Nelson Mandela was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for his activism while the US government listed him as a terrorist. Meanwhile, Jose Maria Sison is still demonized by the U.S. and Philippine governments and European Union, and is still in exile. The reality is that what Sison symbolizes to the marginalized and impoverished Filipino majority and others around the world is also deserving of worldwide admiration, not condemnation."

Quijano also asserted that the U.S. Department of State should also eliminate the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People's Army (NPA) from its list of terrorist groups.

"If we are to qualify terrorist organizations as those who inflict unnecessary harm and sow fear among the people, the Philippine military under the command of the Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo regime is more of the real terrorist, not the CPP-NPA. They are waging a principled struggle in the countryside based on legitimate demands of the majority of the Filipino people who are fed up with a rotten and abusive system. We may have no link to them, but we do recognize the legitimacy of their fight as a popular one, " Quijano said.

He added, "If Mandela and the ANC can be hastily labeled as terrorists by the U.S. government then be dropped decades later out of acknowledged error in judgement, surely we can deduce that the U.S. government was just as hasty and erroneous when they labeled Sison, the CPP, and the NPA as terrorist organizations as well. We hope the U.S. government will also acknowledge their error as they did with Mandela and the ANC."

The FTO labels on the CPP-NPA were a strong contributing factor to declaring the Philippines as the so-called Second Front in the war on "terror" by the Bush administration in 2002. This led to the massive deployment of US troops to the Philippines to conduct joint military exercises under the auspices of "anti-terrorism."

Sison has been the target of several assassination attempts, including an illegal arrest and raid last year in Utrecht. Although a recognized political refugee in the Netherlands, Sison's democratic right to travel and to work were stripped due to the FTO listings of the U.S. government and the European Union. Bulatlat

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