Human Rights Day 2010, Morong 43 and Diplomacy

In the past few weeks, we featured five build-up guest posts with specific reference to prevailing human rights atmosphere in the PH. We provide the links below for readers to revisit.

  1. Military, police, raid office of progressive organizations in camarines Norte, four arrested
  2. Advocacy group urges dfa to bring home OFWS in distress/”>;
  3. Cases of extrajudicial killings under new government piling up;
  4. Case of EJKs, other rights violations under Aquino piling up;
  5. Maricel Delen, a human rights worker, a widow now a victim of persecution.

What a good “coincidence” that as the Philippines, and other nations of the world, observe today, December 10th International Human Rights day, president Benigno S. Aquino III has ordered the department of justice (DOJ) to withdraw the charges against the Morong 43.

The 43 health workers were arrested on Feb. 6 in Morong, Rizal while conducting a health skills training. They were charged with illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

On Dec. 3, the Morong 43 began a hunger strike to call for their release.

Many believe this is a positive move of the administration which should pave the way for the eventual release of all political prisoners who are victims of illegal arrest, torture, detention and human rights violations. Along with the Morong 43 detainees, there are at least 374 political prisoners throughout the country.

Still about human rights, the PH government is dead set with its decision of boycotting the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

“The Philippines prides itself on its democratic values, which is why it is shocking to see this government turning its back on Liu Xiaobo’s nonviolent struggle for free expression in China,” Elaine Pearson, deputy director for Asia of The Human Rights Watch, said in a statement.

The Philippines declined the invitation to attend Friday’s ceremony in Oslo, Norway.

Two senior PH government officials who did not want to be named said the move was meant to appease China, which had repeatedly warned governments around the world that ties would be harmed if they attended the ceremony.

China reacted furiously to the decision by the Nobel committee to award this year’s peace prize to Liu, who was jailed for 11 years last December on subversion charges after calling for the reform of one-party communist rule.

Meanwhile the United Nation’s theme for Human Rights Day is human rights defenders who act to end discrimination.

Human rights defenders acting against discrimination, often at great personal risk to both themselves and their families, are being recognized and acclaimed on this day.

Human rights defenders speak out against abuse and violations including discrimination, exclusion, oppression and violence. They advocate justice and seek to protect the victims of human rights violations. They demand accountability for perpetrators and transparency in government action. In so doing, they are often putting at risk their own safety, and that of their families.

Some human rights defenders are famous, but most are not. They are active in every part of the world, working alone and in groups, in local communities, in national politics and internationally.

Human Rights Day 2010 will highlight and promote the achievements of human rights defenders and it will again emphasize the primary responsibility of governments to enable and protect their role. The Day is also intended to inspire a new generation of defenders to speak up and take action to end discrimination in all of its forms whenever and wherever it is manifested.


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