References: Rachel Redondiez
Secretary-General, BAYAN USA
email: secgen @ bayanusa.org
Media Officer, BAYAN USA
email: mc @ bayanusa.org
As the killings worsen, the calls across the Pacific have grown stronger and louder.
Filipinos and their allies joined forces across the US in condemning the Gloria Macapagal Arroyo regime in the Philippines for the perpetration of near-daily political killings. At least eight US cities held actions in front of Philippine consulates and embassies, coordinated with the over 13 more countries across the globe that participated in an international day of action targeting the human rights record of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, already a hot target of watchdogs Amnesty International and the World Council of Churches.
September 21 marks the 34th Anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law under the former Marcos regime in the Philippines, an edict US-instigated and supported for nearly a decade, and the cause of generations of Filipinos suffering from killings, torture, abductions, and illegal detentions.
“This 34th anniversary of the Martial Law in the Philippines also marks the height of international condemnation of the Arroyo regime– the new US-sponsored dictatorship killings the Filipino people. Today we in the United States amplify across the Pacific Ocean the cry of our homeland– Stop the Killings! Oust Arroyo Now!”, stated Chito Quijano of BAYAN USA.
The various actions were convened by the US Chapter of BAYAN (BAYAN USA) and the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS)- US International Coordinating Committee. This added to over ten Filipino member organizations of the alliance staging actions.
Starting in the regions with the largest concentration of Filipinos in the US, Los Angeles and San Francisco staged actions in front of their Philippine Consulate buildings.
In Los Angeles, a guerilla street theater action and rally was initiated by BAYAN USA, Anakbayan-LA, and cultural group Habi Arts. Coffins lined Wilshire Boulevard as speakers from allied organization offered solidarity messages to the Filipino people.
In San Francisco, BAYAN member organizations League of Filipino Students and babae were joined by the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns (NAFCON) and allied organization POWER for a rally on Powell Street. Students and youth staged a “die-in” on the street to symbolize the hundreds dead at the hands of the Arroyo administration. The names of over 750 victims were read aloud in a commemorative people’s march.
In Honolulu, just one week after staging a protest in response to Mrs. Arroyo’s visit to the island state, a human rights forum and film screening focusing on the Philippine situation was convened by BAYAN member organization Anakbayan-Honolulu, followed by an outdoor candlelight vigil at the university campus center.
In Seattle, Filipinos and allies launched the Northwest Alliance for Human Rights in the Philippines at the Filipino Community Center of Seattle. Once the home of Carlos Bulosan, as well as Filipino-American labor leaders and anti-Martial Law activists Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes, themselves political targets of state repression under the Marcos dictatorship, Seattle once again shone as a landmark for Filipino-American activism. A new generation of young Filipino activists from Anakbayan-Seattle, the women’s group Pinay, and the Philippine-US Solidarity Organization (PUSO) joined labor leaders, church workers, and other community members in bringing the issue of US-funded state terrorism Philippines back on the community table.
In New York, BAYAN member organizations Anakbayan NJ/NY, NY Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines were joined by Philippine Forum Community Action, Movement for a Free Philippines, International Action Center, CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities, Nodutdol, and the Community Organizing Coalition of Philadelphia in a candlelight procession from St. Patrick’s Cathedral to the Philippine Consulate in Manhattan.
Protestors tied pictures of human rights violations victims onto a long piece of rope that eventually stretched into a collage of pictures marching down Fifth Avenue, past Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, and down to the consulate for a rally.
New York is also home of the United Nations headquarters, and of Laurel Baja. Baja is currently the permanent Philippine representative to the UN who, ironically and much to the disapproval of various human rights watchdogs, sits at the UN Human Rights Council.
Protestors summed up Baja’s representation at the UNHRC as “a big fat paycheck just for keeping a council seat warm and collecting dust.”
In Washington DC, the BAYAN-allied organization Katarungan organized a demonstration in front of the Philippine embassy, the same time a dinner gala event was happening inside.
Despite tight embassy and event security, protestors did not back down in exposing on-the-ground facts about the Philippine human rights situation. At the busiest grid-lock traffic hour, protestors held placards calling for the withdrawal of US support to the Arroyo regime, the withdrawal of US military aid, and the ouster of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in what many foresee as the third national ouster of a corrupt Philippine president, after Marcos and Joseph Estrada.
Protest actions were also held by ILPS member organizations in solidarity with the Philippine victims in Chelsea, Massachusetts and North Carolina.
BAYAN USA, an overseas chapter of BAYAN founded in 2005, worked in coordination with Filipino organizations around the world to launch the successful same-day action.