MESSAGE TO AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL
From New York Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines
Re "Terrorist" Blacklist & Case of Prof. Jose Maria Sison
5 November 2008
Dear Amnesty International:
This letter serves two purposes.
The first is to thank you for putting forth a strong statement that urges the
President-elect Barack Obama to place the promotion and respect for human
rights at the center of Washington's agenda. As a local human rights advocacy
group in New York, and with the Philippines still undergoing a human rights
crisis, we hope your statement will be seriously considered and your suggestions
taken up by Obama's administration.
Our second objective is to point an oversight in your list of calls for the new
President-elect. While we agree with your calls, we are disappointed in the
non-mention of the lifting of existent blacklists that tag individuals and charities
as foreign terrorist (FT) organizations and therefore "enemies of the state".
We all know that these so-called lists, as part of the post-9/11 climate and
the Global War on Terror, are more instruments of warmongers to sow
widescale fear and paranoia, and silence legitimate and justified dissent by
stripping dissidents of their fundamental human rights.
One significant example of this is the case of Professor Jose Maria Sison, a
well-known Filipino political refugee living in the Netherlands. Sison's exile
and listing by the US and EU governments as a foreign terrorist is entirely
politically-motivated. Sison is an active and loud opposing voice to the policies
of the Bush regime in the US and the Arroyo regime in the Philippines. His
statements and articles are read by millions around the world who agree
with his views and are mobilized by them.
Though he is a recognized refugee by the European Union, a distinction
that should secure him with basic democratic rights, his FT listing has stripped
him of his right to employment, to hold a bank account, to his assets, and
to travel. In addition, groups and entities that make charitable contributions
openly to individuals like Sison can also be tagged as "aiding terrorists" and
blacklisted. This is a grave human rights violation and should also be taken
up by the new president when making human rights central to the nation's
We urge Amnesty International to include the de-listing of progressives and
activists from blacklists and watchlists, and the scrapping of these types of
lists, to its agenda for the Obama administration. If the US can rise from the
dark ages of slavery and racial segregation to elect a black man as president
in 2008, then surely we can also rise from the dark period of McCarthyist
blacklists and communist witchhunts as well.
NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
Amnesty International Press release
5 November 2008
Amnesty International today urged US President-elect Barack Obama to
show true leadership by making human rights central to his new
administration. The organization is calling on the new government to
take concrete steps in its first 100 days which would show genuine
commitment to bring the USA into line with its international
In the first 100 days of the presidency, Amnesty International is
specifically calling on the new administration to:
These demands form part of a "checklist" of actions
Amnesty International is asking the new US President to take during
his first 100 days in office.
- announce a plan and date for the closure of the detention centre at
- issue an executive order to ban torture and other ill-treatment, as
defined under international law and applicable to all US agents, and
- ensure the setting up of an independent commission to investigate
abuses committed by the USA in its war on terror.
"President-elect Barack Obama must make a clean break from the
US government's detention policies and practices adopted by the
previous administration. Millions of people, politicians and religious
leaders in the United States and across the world are demanding these
changes. Now is the time to make them happen", said Irene Khan,
Secretary General of Amnesty International.
"President-elect Barack Obama must reverse the damage done at
home and abroad by the US government's unlawful actions in the
name of national security", said Larry Cox, executive director
at Amnesty International USA. "The US government's
policies during the past eight years have violated the basic rights
of thousands of individuals, damaged the United States'
credibility on human rights issues and strained diplomatic relations.
With the entire world watching, and the election of a new President
and Congress, it's time to commit the United States to its
international obligations and ensure that the rule of law will be the
foundation for its policies."
Amnesty International is also urging President-elect Barack Obama to
push forward policies that will advance internationally recognized
human rights. The US government should also provide principled
leadership in stopping mass atrocities against civilians in places
such as Darfur, in ending the continued violence against women and
girls in the USA and abroad, supporting human rights defenders and
the international system of justice with the International Criminal
Court at its heart.
"Human rights must be an integral aspect of every policy,
action and issue embarked on by President-elect Barack Obama and his
administration", said Larry Cox. "Although the current
economic circumstances will dominate much of the public debate and
international agenda, a strong and vigilant human rights agenda must
also be a priority. The importance of reversing the legacy of the US
as a human rights abuser cannot be overstated."
"The new Administration must focus on righting some of the wrongs of
the Bush Administration and restoring the US as a human rights
champion at home and abroad," said Irene Khan.
During the first 100 days of the new administration, Amnesty
International will be mobilizing its members and supporters in the
USA and around the world to call on the new US President and Congress
to take immediate steps to demonstrate a commitment to human rights
and urgently address pressing issues at home and abroad.