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Full Text for Reproduction

The Attack on my Human Rights and Civil Liberties is Part of US Offensive Against the People's Right to National Liberation, Democracy and Social Justice

By Prof. Jose Maria Sison
Chief Political Consultant
National Democratic Front of the Philippines

Keynote Address to the Conference
On Laws, Labels and Liberation:
The Case of Professor Jose Maria Sison

Universite de Quebec a Montreal

May 29, 2004

Dear Compatriots and Friends,

I am happy to be with you. Somehow through electronic means, we are able to go around the travel restrictions imposed on me by the US and other governments.

I thank the national organizing committee for holding this conference under the auspices of the International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) in order to focus on my case for study. I am highly honored and deeply pleased to be invited as keynote speaker and given the opportunity to contribute my views on the case and related aspects.

I thank you all in this conference for your solidarity and support in defending me from the persecution arising from the unjust "terrorist" listing initiated by Washington. I appreciate your concern not only for my human rights and civil liberties as an individual but also more importantly for the right of the Filipino people and other oppressed peoples for national and social liberation.

I wish to express my views on the historical and current global context of my case, my inclusion in the "terrorist" list as a direct attack on the Filipino people’s right to national liberation, the facts of my persecution and the violation of my rights and certain courses of action that have been adopted and undertaken to defend myself and oppose the malice and inhumanity of the US, its imperialist allies and the Philippine puppet government.

I. The Historical and Current Global Context

The terrorism and barbarism to which we are all witness in the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, we the Filipino people experienced from the start of the Filipino-American War in 1899 to the end of the "campaigns of pacification" in 1913. We should always remember the blood debt of US imperialism running up to 1.5 million Filipinos killed. We should also keep in mind that the US instigated and propped up the 14-year long Marcos fascist dictatorship. This rule of open terror served US economic, political and military interests.

We continue to recall and condemn the barbarities of the US in the course of aggressive wars and military intervention in China, Korea, Vietnam and the rest of Indochina. We can never forget the 1965 massacre of millions in Indonesia, perpetrated by General Suharto for the benefit of US, British and Dutch oil interests. After the success of the butchery committed directly by the US or indirectly through its puppets, the violence of daily exploitation by monopoly capitalism and its local puppets follows and victimizes the entire subjugated nation generation after generation and can only end upon victory of a national liberation movement.

It is in the very nature of the US as an imperialist power to exploit and oppress the people of the world and to oppose violently the national liberation movements and the countries and governments that firmly assert national independence. For the purpose of extracting superprofits, the US has since the beginning of the 20th century acquired colonies, semi-colonies and dependent countries and turned them into sources of raw materials and cheap labor, markets, fields of investments, spheres of influence and strategic points of control.

It has used the superprofits from the exploitation of the oppressed peoples and nations to augment the profits it extracts from its own proletariat and to counteract the tendency of profit rates to fall within its national borders. But ever pressed to maximize profits, the monopoly bourgeoisie keeps on raising the constant capital for plant, equipment and raw materials and reducing the variable capital for wages. The reduction of incomes for the working people results in the shrinkage of the market. Thus arises the crisis of overproduction. This kind of crisis provides the conditions for state terrorism and wars of aggression by the imperialists as well as intensified national and class struggles and successful revolutions by the people.

The economic and financial crisis that recurs and spreads in the world capitalist system has become more and more severe in recent times and has intensified a series of contradictions: those between the imperialist countries and the oppressed peoples and nations, those between the imperialist powers and some states that assert national independence, those among the imperialist powers and those between the monopoly bourgeoisie and proletariat within the imperialist countries.

Since the beginning of the 1980s, the US policy makers and strategic planners have thought that the policy stress on "neoliberal globalization" would solve the recurrent crises of monopoly capitalism, particularly the problem of stagflation in the 1970s. They have been hyping myth of "free market" to push denationalization of client economies, trade and investment liberalization, privatization of public assets and deregulation against the workers, women and the environment. These have only served to accelerate the concentration and centralization of capital in the US, aggravate the global crisis of overproduction in all products and whip up financial speculation, hysteria and collapses.

Since 2000 the US itself has plunged into a severe economic and financial crisis, aggravating the global depression. Bush has come into this situation with the notion of superimposing "military Keynesianism" on the "free market" pretense of monopoly capitalism. He wants to stimulate the US economy by promoting military production and giving tax cuts, subsidies and bigger state purchase contracts to the military-industrial complex. Unfortunately, hightech military production generates capital growth for the monopoly capitalists but not jobs.

Bush and the "neoconservatives" around him find the situation favorable for pushing the Project for a New American Century, a pipedream for a global Pax Americana that is supposed to be without challenge and beyond compare. Since long before 9/11, they have calculated that they can use the position of the US as sole superpower, with overwhelming superiority in high tech weaponry, to expand by force or threat of arms its economic territory and grab oil sources and supply routes and to push the doctrine of preemptive war in order to destroy any challenge from disobedient client-state or any potential rival. Supposedly, this is the way for the US to realize peace, human rights, the free market and democracy.

The 9/11 attacks have been extremely useful to the US, particularly the Bush regime, in drumming up an "anti-terrorism" hysteria to support a policy of war production and aggression and have been the pretext for so many US acts of aggression and terrorism. The US has unleashed wars of aggression such as those against Afghanistan and Iraq, in collaboration with the UN and NATO in the former case and with the British goevrenment in the latter case. It has turned the Philippines into a so-called second front in so-called war on terrorism. It has emboldened the Israeli Zionists to slaughter the Palestinians. It has threatened Cuba, North Korea, Syria, Iran and other countries.

It has established bases and forward stations of US military forces in Central Asia, Middle East and South Asia and has brought up the number of such footholds to 140 countries. It has imposed a draconian law like the USA PATRIOT Act on the American people and required US allied and puppet states to adopt similar repressive laws and put the national liberation movements and progressive leaders on the same list with such small terrorist groups as Al Qaeda and Abu Sayyaf, previously trained and used by the US for counterrevolutionary purposes.

Since 9/11 the US has once again proven itself to the world as the biggest terrorist force in the entire history of human kind. It launched the war of aggression against Iraq in gross violation of the UN Charter. It prevented the UN from completing the work of discovering whether the Iraqi government had or had no weapons of mass destruction. Instead, it trumpeted the lie that by invading Iraq it could locate those weapons. It has maimed and murdered tens of thousands of ordinary people and destroyed entire communities and the social infrastructure of Iraq with the use of bombs and artillery fire.

In gross violation of the international law on human rights and humanitarian conduct in time of war, it has arbitrartily arrested, humiliated, detained under inhuman conditons, tortured and murdered hundreds of thousands of people. It has caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands and the misery of millions of people in Afghanistan and Iraq alone. It has also encouraged the Israeli Zionists to slaughter the Palestinan people and destroy their homes, all in accordance with US imperialist plans.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Ashcroft have underscored the fact that US imperialism is a superterrorist force by their public expression of contempt for the Geneva Conventions and its Protocols and their claims that civilians and fighters labelled as "enemy combattants" are outside of the protection of international humanitarian law and can be humiliated, tortured and murdered inside and outside US military prisons and concentration camps. The horrors of the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq have shocked all decent people of the world.

In sharp contrast to the US superterrorists, the revolutionary forces of the the national liberation movement and the revolutionary organs of political power of the Filipino people have stood and acted responsibly in accordance with international humanitarian law. In this regard, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) has deposited with the Swiss Federal Council a Unilateral Declaration of Undertaking to Apply the Geneva Conventions and Protocol I since 1996. It has carried out peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and has forged with it the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law since 1999.

II. "Terrorist" Listing as Blackmail Against the NDFP

After Bush declared a new, permanent and borderless "war on terror" in the wake of 9/11, the Macapagal-Arroyo regime immediately expressed support and offered the Philippines as a hunting ground and regional base for US military forces. The US and the puppet government dueted about going after the Abu Sayyaf, a small terrorist band, previously organized and handled by the US Central Intelligence Agency. The top military officials of the puppet government loudly boasted that the "war on terror" would induce the US to give more financial and military assistance. They announced that US military operations would be extended to the areas of the New People’s Army and would pave the way for the US to build the infrastructure for the return of US military bases.

The cabinet oversight committee, including the defense secretary, the national security adviser, the secretary for special operations and the presidential adviser on peace negotiations, prepared a proposal to the US government to designate as "terrorist" the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army and the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines. The proposal was formally presented by Macapagal-Arroyo to Bush when she made a working visit to Washington in the third week of November 2001.

It was on November 22, 2001 when Speaker Jose de Venecia called me up from Mexico to inform me that the US would include me in its list of "terrorists", unless the NDFP agreed to sign a ‘final peace accord" prepared unilaterally by the Cabinet oversight committee. Thinking that it was best to have an interface, I told the speaker to come over to The Netherlands to discuss with representatives of the NDFP what he was talking about.

Towards the end of November 2001, he came to The Netherlands with the presidential adviser on peace negotiations, the chairman of the negotiating panel of the Manila government and others. The NDFP representatives and I made clear to them that the NDFP does not capitulate and does nort yield to blackmail. We asserted that The Hague Joint Declaration provides a clear framework for the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. Then the chairpersons of the GRP and the NDFP negotiating panels drafted a document of understanding to resume the formal talks of the peace negotiations, reaffirming The Hague Joint Declaration and thereby blocking the attempt at blackmail and the absurd demand for capitulation.

From the Netherlands, the GRP and NDFP delegations flew to Oslo, with the common intention of signing the aforesaid document in the presence of the then newly elected Norwegian prime minister on December 1, 2001. But, just before the meeting the GRP delegation informed the NDFP delegation that word had come from Manila, specifically from the defense secretary, for it not to sign the document. Thus, the meeting with the Nowegian prime minister became a simple courtesy call. Since then, the CPP, the NPA and the NDFP have more than ever intensified their opposition to the entire range of US imperialist domination and to the increased US military intervention in the Philippines.

After his visit to Manila within the first week of August 2002, US state secretary Colin Powell designated the CPP/NPA as a "foreign terrorist organization" on August 9, 2002. The US treasury department followed suit by listing the same and the NDFP chief political consultant as "terrorists" on August 12, 2002. The following day the Dutch government issued its "sanction regulation" against the CPP, NPA and the NDFP chief political consultant. Other governments like those of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia and eventually the European Council joined the "anti-terrorist" lynch mob against me.

All these governments have shamelessly used the pretext of anti-terrorism in order to slander and demonize the CPP, NPA and the NDFP chief political consultant as "terrorists". They trangress the right of the Filipino people to fight for national liberation. They violate the rights of the Filipino people and my individual rights under international law. They violate the principles of national sovereignty and noncapitulation and the safety and immunity guarantees in the GRP-NDFP agreements. They run against the resolutions of the European Parliament supporting the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. In fact, they paralyzed these peace negotiations for a long while.

III. My Persecution: Violations of Rights and Undue Punishment

By virtue of two judgements (1992 and 1995) of the Raad van State, the highest administrative court in The Netherlands, I am a recognized political refugee under Article 1 a of the Refugee Convention and I am under the protection of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and consequently the entirety of this convention. Subsequently, the Dutch government (Justice Ministry) accepted the aforesaid judgements but asserted that it could refuse legal admittance even to one recognized by the Raad van State as a political refugee.

When it decided in 1997 that the Dutch government could deny legal admittance, the Chamber of Legal Uniformity of the Aliens Court paid lip service to the the aforesaid Raad van State decisions and deliberately ignored the specific decision of the 1995 Raad van State that if I could not go to another country, without being put at risk of losing the protection of Article 3 of the ECHR, the Dutch government had no choice but to grant me legal admittance and the residence permit.

In the meantime in the Philippines, one false charge after another against me collapsed. The charge of subversion was nullified by the repeal of the anti-democratic anti-subversion law in 1992. The charge of multiple murder fabricated out of the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing was dismissed by formal resolution of the Manila prosecutors declaring that the charge was based on pure speculation. Thus, the secretary of justice of the GRP made a formal certification in 1998 that there was no pending criminal charge against me.

Until now, there is no formal criminal charge against me in the Philippines or anywhere else in the world, including The Netherlands, where I have in fact resided since 1987. And yet I am put on the list of "terrorists" serially and indefinitely and I am subjected to what are deviously described as temporary restrictive sanctions but which in fact are indefinite punitive sanctions.

All banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions are prohibited from having any transaction with me. My personal bank account has been frozen, including the amounts that have all come from the social welfare agencies. Previously, the social benefits for living allowance, housing and health insurance were provided because the Dutch authorities had prohibited me (as asylum seeker) from getting employment.

The Dutch authorities cut off these social benefits in connection with its August sanction regulations against me. Then they repealed those regulations and pretended to restore my social benefits. But they had requested the European Council to put me on its "terrorist" list. After my inclusion in the list on October 28, 2002, they terminated all the social benefits. All border authorities are under written orders to be constantly on the look out for me, as if I were a dangerous criminal. Despite such calumny, I am allowed to travel on laissez passer only for the purpose of attending the GRP-NDFP negotiations in Oslo upon the request of the Norwegian government.

The European governments have been swayed by the US-generated "anti-terrorism" hysteria, reminiscent of the anti-communist hysteria during the Cold War. They have collectively and separately adopted positions, decision and laws that are blatantly repressive and fascistic. They empower themselves to do the most undemocratic and unlawful acts, like arbitrarily arresting and detaining anyone on mere suspicion of being a terrorist, depriving him of access to counsel and to evidence and separating him from other detainees and keeping him under conditions worse than those of other detainees. So far, the Dutch authorities have not yet made a move to arrest and detain me. But the sword of Damocles hangs over me. I am constantly under threat of being arrested and detained on the false charge of terrorism or being subjected to a US request for my detention prior to extradition or extradition straight to a place like Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib.

My rights under the European Convention on Human Rights are being so brazenly violated. I am deprived of the essential means for human existence. The seizure of such means violate my basic right to human life. The deprivations amount to punishment worse than that imposed on convicted murderers who are provided in prison with the essential means for human existence. The punitive measures have been applied on me without due process. I have been ordered to leave the house where I stay with my wife and my son. Thus, my right to private and family life is put at risk and violated.

When my lawyers cite Resolution 1452 of the UN Security Council, allowing transactions related to essential human needs and professional fees, we are told by the lawyers of the Dutch government and the European Council that no benefit comes to me from said resolution because it is applicable only to those suspected of belonging to Al Qaeda. Thus, my lawyers protest that even the suspected perpetrators of 9/11 have more rights than I have.

I am subjected to worse material and moral damages due to the official efforts of the US and other governments to demonize and stigmatize me as "terrorist". Opportunities to share my knowledge and experience as a teacher or to earn income commensurate to my professional training and competence have been blocked. Potential employers and partners are discouraged. For instance, a book-publishing project has been delayed several times. But the loss of income is nothing compared to the grave threats to my life and physical integrity due to the official incitement of hatred and violence against my person. The Bush regime boasts of having renewed the license of its covert operatives to kill leaders who are deemed dangerous to US interests and are labelled "terrorists."

And yet nowhere in the world can I be held liable for the heinous crime of terrorism for the simple reason that there is no basis whatsoever for starting a criminal investigation. Not in the Philippines, because up to now the political descendants of Marcos have failed to push the passage of their anti-terrorism bill. The most reasonable and democratic-minded jurists know that there are more than enough laws to handle the most heinous of common crimes. Philippine jurisprudence upholds the doctrine of political offense, which differentiates rebellion or revolution from common crimes. But with overweening arrogance, the US and its imperialist allies seek to impose its hysteria on the Philippines and usurp jurisdiction over enties and events in the Philippines.

The Dutch government and European Council have acted unlawfully to negate the absolute protection that Article 3 of the European Convention is supposed to guarantee. At this point, you might ask why the US, British and Dutch governments are collaborating so closely to persecute me. They have always collaborated in opposing national liberation movements and in controlling oil and other natural resources in Southeast Asia. Their hands drip with blood from a long history of colonialism and imperialism as well as well as from their more recent sponsorship of puppet regimes of open terror, such as those of Suharto and Marcos.

The US, British and Dutch monopoly firms are among the biggest plunderers of the Philippines. They collaborate in exploiting the Filipino people. To cite one current major collaboration, Chevron and Royal Dutch Shell are the main partners in the Malampaya Sound project, involving the exploitation of gas resources and the operation of the long pipelines to Luzon. The US, British and Dutch governments are accomplices in many current acts of aggression and plunder not only in Southeast Asia but also in the Balkans, Middle East and other regions of the world.

The matter of my being listed a "terrorist" by the imperialist monsters is so serious because it involves not only my life but also the integrity of the national liberation movement in the Philippines. But sometimes I get a big laugh from the fact that I am not in any way linked with Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda, unlike the Bush family which has close relations with the Bin Laden family through the Carlyle group of investors, which have big investments in military production, oil and other enterprises dependent on state intervention and state contracts.

IV. Courses of Action

Compatriots, friends and I have acted resolutely and vigorously to expose and oppose the use of the false charge of terrorism against me in particular and against the national liberation movement, the patriotic and progressive forces and their leaders and members in the Philippines. We are also conscious of contributing thereby to the struggle of the national liberation movements in other countries.

We have adopted and undertaken several courses of action. These include educational work, political action, legal action, negotiation and fund-raising. The International DEFEND Committee and its country committees and the International League of Peoples’ Struggle and its national chapters have been the most active in undertaking campaigns and activities to arouse, organize and mobilize the people and to raise resources for defense and for fighting back.

Let me describe the educational work. We have done various types of information and educational work on the case and its various aspects. We have published the pertinent materials in leaflets and pamphlets, in email circulars and on several websites, including the following: www.defendsison.be, www.inps-sison.freewebspace.com, www.sisonlegaldefense.250free.com, and www.justiceforjoma.org. We have held study meetings, conferences and seminars. We have encouraged organizations to do so. I am happy that this conference is being held. We have carried out cultural activities that defend me and support the call for national liberation of the Filipino people from US imperialism. We are urging further research, especially legal research, to aid both legal action and political action.

Let me describe the political action. We have collected signatures on petitions from the organized masses as well as the spontaneous masses at public places on ordinary days and during marches and rallies. We have also solicited the signatures and support of parliamentarians, trade union leaders, academics, jurists, religious leaders, human rights luminaries and other prominent personalities in order to encourage more people to join us. We have carried out pickets and demonstrations for the purpose of making protests and demands on the case. We have successfully requested other organizations to take up the case. We have joined international conferences and huge marches and rallies against war and imperialism in order to condemn the US as a terrorist force and to raise the issue of the "terrorist" listing.

Let me also describe the legal action. We have filed complaints in administrative processes against Dutch agencies mainly for terminating my social benefits and violating my rights. We have laid the ground for legal action in the courts, up to the level of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. We have filed a complaint before the European Court of Justice (First Instance) in Luxembourg against the European Council for putting me on its "terrorist" list. In this case, the NDFP negotiating panel is an intervenor in my favor. In each of these cases going to a European court, we have an international battery of lawyers. The Amsterdam Clinic of International Law based in the University of Amsterdam is assisting us. The Philippine-based Public Interest Law Center is a participant or cooperator in all the cases. It stands guard against whatever legal mischief the GRP might do in collaboration with the US and Dutch governments. There are also lawyers ready to fight any attempt to use against me the US-Dutch extradition treaty.

Let me describe the method of negotiation. There have been several opportunities for availing of the method of negotiation. The NDFP has asked groups of parliamentarians to uphold the 1997 and 1999 resolutions of the European Parliament in support of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations. It has also asked the third party facilitator, the Norwegian government, to deal with the obstacles posed by the European Council and certain governments to these negotiations. The NDFP has required the GRP to comply with solemn agreements and to join the NDFP in reaffirming the following: the mutually acceptable principle of national sovereignty in The Hague Joint Declaration in order to frustrate the usurpation of jurisdiction by the US and other governments, the safety and immunity guarantees in the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees and the Hernandez political offense doctrine in the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. The formal talks in the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations have been resumed recently upon the premise that effective measures are sought and realized to remove the CPP, NPA and the NDFP chief political consultant from the "terrorist" listing.

Let me describe the fund-raising. We consider fund-raising important because we need funds for publications and other necessities. Even as my lawyers provide their services pro bono there are certain unavoidable expenses that must be met. The legal defense fund is under the care of religious leaders in a foundation based in The Netherlands. There are various ways of raising funds: passing the hat among the people in meetings, selling tickets to cultural affairs and to lunch or dinner lectures and marking up, for the sake of solidarity and support, the prices of books, CD-roms and campaign paraphernalia (t-shirts, pamphlets and buttons). Recently, the fund-raisers have asked me to record my songs and poem recitations on video clips and CDs. I have agreed, in order to take on one more form of struggle, which is instructive and yet entertaining.

In concluding, I express my deep gratitude to all compatriots and friends who have joined and contributed to the campaign to defend me and also those who have supported the struggle for national liberation, democracy and social justice in the Philippines. ###




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