While Vote on UN Investigation of Duterte Awaits, We Condemn Duterte’s Attempt to Gain U.S. Support through “Lumad” Tour

This June, the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) of the Philippines kicked off a speaking tour across the United States in an attempt to gain support for Duterte’s counterinsurgency program, Oplan Kapanatagan, a recently initiated joint operation plan between the Philippine military and police.

The timing of President Duterte’s tour comes at no coincidence.

Last Thursday, Iceland led over two dozen countries in submitting a resolution to the United Nations Human Rights Council to conduct an independent investigation on the Duterte regime’s war on drugs. The resolution comes just a week after the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines hosted its Global Assembly in Hong Kong, and less than a year after the International People’s Tribunal in Brussels, Belgium, found Duterte guilty of gross human rights violations. The Human Rights Council is set to vote on the resolution by July 12.

In response to growing international scrutiny against Duterte, the PCOO has paraded a group called the Mindanao Indigenous Peoples Council of Elders and Leaders (MIPCEL) across the United States, a collection of tribal dealers and leaders of paramilitary groups who are wreaking havoc on Mindanao’s indigenous (Lumad) communities. The said “Council” have collaborated with the Armed Forces of the Philippines since 2003 to recruit Lumads into the regular armed forces and paramilitary groups to conduct counterinsurgency, as outlined in a Memorandum of understanding with the Mindanao Eastern Region Command.

Since the declaration of Pres. Duterte’s Martial Law 2 years ago — which spurred further U.S. military support in the form of Operation Pacific Eagle — 31 Lumad leaders have been killed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, its gunmen, and paramilitary groups. More than 400,000 have been forcibly evacuated under Duterte’s Martial Law in Mindanao. Under Oplan Kapanatagan, joint operations between the military and police have resulted in more massacres, especially against farmers and indigenous people.

Mindanao, where the Lumad reside, holds the world’s second largest known gold reserves in addition to copper, nickel, and other minerals. Those who resist the encroachment of private business on their ancestral domains are subject to “clearing” operations by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and paramilitary groups. Through Ancestral Domain Management Systems, Inc., MIPCEL cooperate and collude with private corporations aiming to exploit the natural resources in the ancestral domains, receiving hefty financial kickbacks. MIPCEL is no advocate for indigenous rights, but a mechanism of Philippine government to exploit indigenous people for the benefit of the Philippine elite and foreign corporations.

“Clearly the purpose of this MIPCEL tour is not to create dialogue, but rather is a desperate propaganda stunt to create a semblance of international support for Duterte’s bloodbath. No matter what antics the Duterte administration undergoes to justify its blatant disregard for human rights, the facts are indisputable,” said Drew Elizarde-Miller, National Coordinator of ICHRP US.

While Duterte seeks to consolidate the Philippine military and police to strengthen his hold over armed and security forces, the Philippine government also grows more defiant in its attempt to cover its attacks against the Filipino people. The Presidential office attributes increasing international pressure to false news, claiming that no other government could know the Philippines as well as its own government. Such pleads to Philippine sovereignty from the Duterte regime hold little weight when the Philippine government continues to sell the lands of indigenous people to foreign companies, increase its debt to the U.S. and China, and do nothing to defend the West Philippine Seas while China violates international maritime law. In this vein, the Presidential Communications Operations Office’s Lumad tour does not make our solidarity waver for the Lumad and the Filipino people’s struggle. In the face of the Duterte regime’s growing propaganda in the United States and across the world, we hold strong in our call to end U.S. support of the Duterte Regime and cut aid to the Philippine military and police. We urge the U.N Human Rights Council to pass the recently tabled resolution and investigate the sins of Duterte.

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Hands off Tinay! Defend Human Rights Defenders!

Reference: Yoko Liriano, ICHRP-US Communications Coordinator

Contact ICHRP-US: (443) ICHRP-US/ (443) 424-7787, ICHRPUS [at] gmail.com

At 4:30pm on April 22, 2019, Bernardino “Toto” Patigas, 72, a survivor of the Escalante Massacre of 20 farmers and farmworkers during the Marcos dictatorship, became the 48th Karapatan human rights worker murdered under the Duterte Regime.

Human rights defenders, particularly in Negros, where 14 farmers were massacred just a couple of weeks ago, receive threats regularly due to their human rights work–Toto Patigas included.  In 2017, trumped up complaints were filed against Patigas but were dismissed due to lack of probable cause. In April of 2018, Patigas’s name and picture, together with that of slain human rights lawyer Benjamin Ramos and 60 other individuals and rights advocates, were included in a poster of alleged communist personalities.

This is the style of political killings and intimidation in the Philippines.  

Duterte and his cronies like Brigadier General Antonio Parlade, demonize and red-tag activists, grassroots organizations, research and law institutions, faith leaders, etc., labeling human rights activists and community members as terrorists and members of the Communist Party of the Philippines and New People’s Army. The cost of the Duterte regime’s words are deadly–their words become law and justify the violence of the Philippine military and police. In one recent case, after Duterte’s inflammatory remarks about shooting women guerilla fighters in the vagina, an alleged NPA leader was found last week with her arms fractured and her genitals shattered by a bullet.

Within 24 hours of Toto Patigas’s murder, Cristina (Tinay) Palabay, the Secretary General of Karapatan, received a death threat via text message: “Condolences: We already started, you are our priority, along with Clarissa, Roque, Nolie, Rey, Aldren, Patigas, Cristian, Dolly, at si Alyas Tatay Ogie who can be seen in Silay or Libertad. They are our priorities for this year.”

Palabay recently completed a speaking tour in the United States sponsored by ICHRP-US and Amnesty International. Responding to the 184.5 million in tax dollars that went to the Philippine military and police in 2018, Palabay urged people in the United States to stop “sending aid to support the mad slaughter in the Philippines.”

Harassment and terrorist tagging continues to happen to speakers who come to share the human rights situation in the Philippines to people in the United States–both in the case of Jerome Aba, the peace activist invited to the U.S. for Ecumenical Advocacy Days and en route to speak on ICHRP’s Stop the Killings Speaking Tour in 2018 who was detained at SFO Airport, tortured, and accused of being a communist-terrorist, and most recently in the case of death threats against Tinay Palabay, who spoke and lobbied across the U.S. this March 2019.

The United States Network of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-US) denounces the killing of Toto Patigas and the continual attack on human rights defenders in the Philippines. We call on the international community to increase the pressure against the Duterte Regime and support human rights defenders and progressive organizations, which includes supporting the call for sanctuary for human rights defenders.

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TAKE ACTION:

  1. Pressure lawmakers to end support for the Duterte Regime — follow up with Congressional Offices especially those that Tinay visited while on tour with an email to the aide, office, or set up a lobby visit
  2. Garner signatures for campaign for a congressional hearing: ichrpus.org/campaign
  3. Donate to ICHRP-US to support human rights defenders in the Philippines: paypal.me/ichrpus

HANDS OFF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

ICHRP-US Expresses Solidarity with Karapatan, Ibon and Rural Missionaries of the Philippines, Amidst Attacks

Reference: Joy Prim, Head of Solidarity Missions Working Group

Contact ICHRP: (443) ICHRP-US/ (443) 424-7787, ICHRPUS[at]gmail.com, @ichrpu_us

The United States Chapter of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-US) denounces the vilification of human rights organizations and human rights defenders in the Philippines.  In the last week alone, in addition to the constant vitriol against progressive groups and partylists in public spaces, there was a press conference by the Philippine Government, as well as statement being circulated amongst media groups by a US-trained General, Antonio Parlade, naming organizations and specific people in their tirades against the mass movement in the Philippines.  

The red-tagging of human rights organization, Karapatan; research institution, the Ibon Foundation; and church organization, Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) is further proof of the desperation of a fascist regime.  Organizations and advocates who fight on the behalf of the oppressed masses should not be subjected to red-tagging simply for doing what the government fails to do. The Duterte administration is afraid of the power and legitimacy of these organizations which garner world-wide support for their work to expose and address state-sponsored human rights violations.  This comes at the same time as the Philippines officially withdrew from the International Criminal Court – the world’s only permanent war crimes tribunal.

On the heels of the arrest of Time’s Person of the Year, Rappler CEO and journalist, Maria Ressa, it is becoming increasingly clear that unarmed dissent, a constitutionally afforded right, is being silenced.  After more than 29,000 poor people have been killed in Duterte’s Drug War and hundreds of activists have been extra-judicially killed since the beginning of Duterte’s regime, we cannot take lightly when the Philippine government attempts to discredit organizations like Ibon and Karapatan.

Karapatan, the Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights, is a progressive alliance of individuals and organizations fighting for civil and political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Filipino people.  Karapatan is no stranger to attacks. Since Duterte’s inauguration in 2016, Karapatan staff across the country, have been harassed, intimidated, and 5 have already been killed. As Cristina Palabay, the Secretary-General of Karapatan, continues her speaking tour in the United States, sponsored by Amnesty International and ICHR-US, she responded to the attacks:

“We would even have chuckled at [these] antics if not for [their] not-so-veiled threat on either having me killed or arrested on made-up charges, which familiarly resonates like all the threats that our human rights workers have received before they were killed, disappeared or arrested. This issue isn’t even about Karapatan; it is about the fundamental right of peoples to defend their rights in the context of a tyrannical government that disregards these rights. We exist, because people like Mr. Parlade and the systems [he] preserves exist. And we will continue to do what we do, despite and inspite of [these people], because we know that we are on side of truth and justice.”

Cristina Palabay, Secretary-General, Karapatan

The Ibon Foundation conducts research on the most urgent social, economic and political issues confronting the Filipino people as well as the conditions, globally.  While the state is busy on a campaign to malign pro-people organizations, Ibon continues to raise awareness on the rice crisis, the manufactured water crisis, and other societal ills that have been brought on by the government’s ineptitude and anti-people policies.

Rural Missionaries of the Philippines is a national organization of women and men religious, priests and lay who dedicate their lives to educating and working with the rural poor farmers and agricultural workers for genuine agrarian reform, the fisherfolk for genuine acquatic reform, and the indigenous peoples for land and self-determination, towards attainment of the fullness of life, justice, freedom and integrity of creation.  In the midst of Martial Law and militarization of Lumad communities in Mindanao, RMP teachers and volunteers continue to provide education to Lumad students in far flung communities where the government fails to provide education and basic social services or access to healthcare.

Following the killings of three Catholic Priests in the past two years, attempted killings of church leaders and pastors who are serving poor and rural communities,  rising attacks on church leaders including red-tagging of UCCP and IFI Bishops and ongoing surveillance of church leaders, we cannot be quiet. The attempts to discredit the church leaders and organizations providing the social services and other needs that the government continues to fail to provide.

It is the duty of ICHRP-US and the people of the United States to oppose the continued slaughter of the Filipino people by its government, funded by our tax dollars.  Pam Tau-Lee, the Chairperson of ICHRP-US, says, “It is unconscionable that, while people in the U.S. are hungry, homeless, lack adequate healthcare and access to education, we are funding bloodthirsty regimes that attack the poor, the indigenous, women and children, and their advocates.  It is absolutely urgent that we denounce this vilification campaign, and defend those who defend human rights!”

#STOPTHEATTACKS

#CUTUSAIDTOTHEPHILIPPINES

#ILOVEMYKARAPATAN

In addition to calling for a congressional hearing to end US military aid to the Philippines, ICHRP-US is fundraising to support human rights defenders who are in need of sanctuary in the Philippines.

Sign on to the campaign to End US Support for the Duterte Regime: ichrpus.org/campaign

Donate to ICHRP-US to support human rights defenders in the Philippines: paypal.me/ichrpus

U.S. Human Rights Groups Condemn Additional U.S. Funding to Philippine Military and Police and Call for a Congressional Hearing to Investigate Human Rights Violations Under the Duterte Regime

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Contacts:
Drew Elizarde-Miller | ICHRP-US Secretariat | 503-476-2179 | dcsmiller@gmail.com
Narissa Lee | ICHRP-US Media | 415-613-1432 | ICHRPUS@gmail.com

U.S. Congress approved more military aid to the Asia Pacific Region, while the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-U.S. chapter (ICHRP-US)  launched a campaign to urge Congress to cut aid to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP)

Despite the U.S. government shutdown, President Trump signed into law the Asia Reassurance Initiative Act, S.2736 and the House version H.B. 6888, which authorizes $1.5 billion in annual funding to the region, including the Philippines, from 2019 to 2023. As U.S. tax-funded aid to the AFP and PNP has been heavily associated with rampant human rights violations and killings in Philippines, human rights groups are calling for a congressional hearing to ensure that the additional funding under this bill does not contribute to increased killings and other violations of human rights of Filipinos.


While the bill states that no support will be provided to the PNP for counternarcotics assistance unless international human rights standards are met, human rights advocates are concerned about further aid to the AFP and weapons procurement for the PNP. Last month, the Ecumenical Advocacy Network of the Philippines, a network of faith-based organizations, released a public statement urging the House and Senate to reject any version of S.2736 and H.B. 6888 that does not specifically state that none of the additional proposed funds can be appropriated to the PNP and AFP.

“US foreign policy towards China should not infringe upon the sovereignty and rights of people in the Asia Pacific,” said Pam Tau Lee, Chairperson of ICHRP US.  “The $1.5 billion in military aid approved by members of Congress is being mistakenly lauded as a step to protect human rights in the Philippines by some media. In reality, if allocated to the AFP, it will directly fund the crimes they perpetrate, including extrajudicial killings of peasants and peasant leaders, illegal arrests and detentions, and ceaseless harassment and intimidation of civilians, including arbitrary shootings of schools in Mindanao.


Since Duterte took office in July 2016, over 23,000 people — estimated by the PNP itself — are suspected to have been murdered; at least 540 people are being detained as political prisoners; and more than 430,000 people have been displaced by the AFP.

In 2018 alone, U.S. Congress approved $184.5 million in military aid to the Duterte administration. In response to the worsening human rights crisis in Philippines, ICHRP-US launched a nationwide campaign to call for an end to all U.S. support for the Duterte Administration, beginning with calling on Congress to cut funding to the AFP and PNP.

Joy Prim, the ICHRP-US Regional Coordinator in Southern California which is home to the largest number of Filipinos in the country, urged human rights advocates in the United States to participate in the campaign:  “Human rights defenders in the U.S. have a responsibility to grow the movement against fascism in the Philippines and end the United States’ role in aiding and abetting Duterte’s murderous regime. We are calling on all human rights supporters in the United States to demand a congressional hearing and help expose and halt the use of tax dollars that’s funding the Duterte administration’s murder spree, which is now in the tens of thousands.”

In 2007, Senator Barbara Boxer hosted a congressional hearing on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Later that year, Congress restricted U.S. aid to the Philippines until certain human rights conditions were met.

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Extension of Martial Law in Mindanao is an Extension of Trump-Duterte’s Tyranny

On December 11, the the day after International Human Rights Day, Philippine Congress voted to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2019. The extension — which will continue the suspension of habeas corpus and further enable the gross human rights violations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police — comes a full year and a half after Duterte’s initial declaration of martial law in May of 2017.

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines-United States, a broad network of organizations concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines, denounces the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Duterte’s martial law has proven to be far more than just an attempt to fight terrorism in Marawi City. The destruction of Marawi City, where over 450,000 were displaced from their homes, has shown the intention and character of the Duterte regime, whose growing militarization of the country has only brought destruction and misery. Instead of providing sanctuary and justice, the Duterte regime has only replaced the homes in Marawi with shady business deals benefiting foreign entities, lenders and businesses. Evacuees are still living in inadequately equipped evacuation centers while their lands are being sold off. Additionally, Martial Law in Mindanao has not only increased repression of activists, illegal arrests and extrajudicial killings in the Southern Philippines, but has set precedent for the militarization of the whole country and a nationwide declaration of martial law.

This extension of martial law took place just a day after Duterte signed Executive Order 70 (EO70), another measure that will increase militarization of communities under the facade of peace-building. After scrapping the possibility of much needed social and economic reforms with his rejection of peace talks with the National Democratic Front, President Duterte created EO70, which claims to address root issues of armed conflict in local communities through basic services administered by the Armed Forces. Yet, given the many opportunities to pursue peace talks with the National Democratic Front at the behest of the masses of the Filipino people, along with the 23,000 killings under his leadership, Duterte has no credibility in developing peace programs. Rather, Duterte’s peace programs, EO70 or the deadly counterinsurgency program, Oplan Kapayapaan, have only resulted in further slaughter and exploitation of landless peasants, indigenous people, union leaders and the Moro people struggling for self-determination.  

Behind Duterte’s militarization is the intelligence, support and interest of the United States, who created and orchestrated Operation Pacific Eagle in the backdrop of the Marawi crisis and the declaration of martial law. Despite the well recorded human rights abuses of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police, the United States has not wavered in its support of the Philippine military and police, providing the former with 184.5 million dollars in training, tactical guidance, drones and other forms of military equipment. Further, when Jerome Aba, a Moro peace activist from Mindanao, came to the United States at the invitation of United Methodists in April 2018 to speak on the human rights situation in Mindanao, U.S. customs detained, tortured and barred Jerome from entering the United States. In the context of Trump’s repression of migrants, activists and oppressed people in the United States, along with his war-mongering around the world, the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao is also an extension of Trump’s tyranny abroad.

We forge ahead in solidarity to demand: End Martial Law in Mindanao! End U.S. Support of the Duterte Regime! Cut U.S. Aid to the Philippine Military and Police!  

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The U.S.-Duterte Regime Cannot Silence Us: No PNP in the U.S!

The International People’s Tribunal in Brussels, Belgium found Presidents Trump and Duterte guilty of human rights abuses. Two weeks later, the Philippine National Police held a public forum announcing a new “Police Community Relations” program in the U.S, to include the deployment of Philippine National Police (PNP) officials on both the East and West Coast.

This past Friday, October 5, at another public forum at the Philippine consulate in New York, members of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, an ICHRP member organization, as well as the Malaya Movement, confronted the PNP press conference to denounce Duterte’s killings and the presence of the PNP in the U.S, under the cry of “No War Criminals in the U.S.”. While Bayan and Malaya members raised their concerns, Duterte supporters at the scene shouted down the activists, resorting to physical aggression and assault against the protestors, resulting in injuries.

This most recent attack on Filipinos and allies outside the Philippines is a reflection of the weakening and desperate grasp of a U.S.-backed Duterte regime struggling to gain international support amidst growing international condemnation and organizing against the Duterte dictatorship. This summer, Duterte threatened deportation of Sister Pat, an Australian missionary in the Philippines who has dedicated over 20 years of her life to serving alongside farmers and indigenous people in their fight for self-determination. Similarly, Australian human rights advocate and Professor Gil Boehringer was deported from the Philippines this year, along with three United Methodist missionaries who also had recently gone on an international solidarity mission and recorded human rights violations perpetrated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The incident in New York is not the first harassment of Philippine human rights defenders on U.S. soil this year. During ICHRP-US and the Malaya Movement’s Stop the Killings Speaking Tour, state repression and the collaboration between the US and Duterte clearly emerged in the torture, harassment and deportation of peace activist Jerome Aba — Chairperson of the Suara Bangsamoro. He was targeted because he could speak to how U.S. aid and support in the destruction of Marawi and Duterte’s Martial Law was affecting the Filipino people.

Most recently, after the International People’ Tribunal found Trump and Duterte “guilty,” Duterte’s office was outspoken in calling the tribunal a “sham” despite the Tribunal’s reliance on the testimonies of victims, public officials, expert witnesses, lawyers and professionals from Philippines and around the globe. Duterte further threatened international human rights activists, saying, “ If I fell short, then as a Filipino, that is your right to criticize and even slam me if you want. I would never, never take it against you. . . . These Caucasians, they go here to look for our faults . . . Go ahead, one day if you run out of targets, and you want live fire and live human target, I will send three there, all of them white.”   

While Duterte makes an appeal to the colonial history of the Philippines to repudiate European criticism and target international activists, Duterte’s programs and administration have ultimately remained subservient to one of the most blatantly racist and colonialist Presidents in Donald Trump. In practice, Duterte has not only sought and won the admiration of Trump for his war on drugs, but has ignored his early claims to abhor U.S. intervention in the Philippines, claiming $184.5 million in military AID from the U.S. in 2018, and recently agreeing to an increase in joint military operations between the U.S. and Philippine military. In reality, Duterte’s remarks are but a feeble facade to cover up the power of the international & multinational movement against his fascism.

The recent moves of Duterte to align with the former and current presidential powers — Marcos, Arroyo, and Trump — along with attempts to silence human rights defenders and any political opposition, and his new community police relations program in the U.S. — all indicate the instability of the Duterte Administration, the growing strength of the people’s movement in the Philippines and the relevance of international solidarity in challenging this worsening dictatorship. In light of these developments, ICHRP-US expresses its solidarity and support of human rights defenders in New York and in the Philippines and calls for a higher and more determined struggle across the U.S. against U.S. military aid to the Philippines and against U.S. support of Duterte’s dictatorship. The U.S.-Duterte Regime cannot silence us: No PNP in the U.S.! Long live International Solidarity!

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Please donate to the International People’s Tribunal here and carry on its victories.

Statement of Solidarity for the International People’s Tribunal on U.S.-Backed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s Crimes Against the Filipino People

Warm Greetings!

Less than a year ago, over 40 organizations launched ICHRP-US, calling for an end to dictatorship in the Philippines and declaring that “resistance is our right and solidarity is our duty.” Since our launch, we organized the Stop the Killings Speaking Tour: The People’s Caravan for Peace and Justice in the Philippines, and have continued forward in building and expanding our coalition, and in waging a campaign against U.S. military aid to the Duterte dictatorship.

At this moment, ICHRP-US would like to especially raise the recent indictment of former General Palparan, “The Butcher,” as a clear victory on the part of the people’s movement in the Philippines, while also recognizing there are many still suffering to whom justice has not been delivered. Palparan’s arrest comes in a moment in which one of Palparan’s greatest supporters, U.S.-backed former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, is now returning to power as Speaker of the House  at the delight of another U.S.-backed dictator, Rodrigo Duterte. While fascism in the Philippines heightens, the people raise the call for peace and justice and wield the truth to reach victory in the case of Palparan, who is only symbolic of many in the Armed Forces of the Philippines who have not yet been tried.

As people based in the United States, we bring to the International People’s Tribunal (IPT) our outright condemnation of Trump’s support of Duterte’s human rights violations, and rise in opposition to the military aid that goes to the Philippines. As the amount of aid to the Philippines this year alone has now risen to 184.5 million dollars through Operation Pacific Eagle and investment in the Philippine National Police’s anti-narcotics operations, people in the U.S. continue to lack basic social services and housing while our tax dollars go to violence in the Philippines. In light of this, abhorrence seems too light of a word to describe our outrage at the injustice of Trump and Duterte’s practices — only our actions towards justice can speak properly of our determination.

Carolyn Forche, a poet and human rights advocate who covered human rights in El Salvador, once noted to herself: “It is not your right to feel powerless. People better than you have felt more powerless.” In the same vein, ICHRP-US Chairperson Pam Tau Lee expressed: “As people from the United States who find the people’s movement in the Philippines deeply powerful, and as people whose tax dollars fund grave human rights violations in the Philippines, we cannot for a moment feel powerless in our ability to make change. We can only forge ahead and continue to organize at a higher and more courageous level. As our member organizations from the United States watch IPT from afar, we are honored and decisive to deepen and strengthen our commitment to stop the killings in the Philippines, say no to another fascist dictatorship, and strengthen our organizing against U.S. military aid to the Philippines.” Resistance is our right and solidarity is our duty!

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To donate to ICHRP-US’s delegation to IPT, please go here. For more information on this year’s IPT, visit the official page on the ICHRP Global website,