Fil-Am Women in NYC Demand the Release of 43 Illegally Arrested Doctors and Healthcare Workers and Condemn the Use of Torture

FREE THE 43 HEALTHCARE WORKERS IN RIZAL, PHILIPPINES!
Help by signing this petition!
http://www.petitiononline.com/Free43/petition.html

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
10 February 2010
Reference: Cris Hilo, Vice Chair, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment NYC, fire.nyc@gmail.com

Fil-Am Women in NYC Demand the Release of 43 Illegally Arrested Doctors and Healthcare Workers and Condemn the Use of Torture

Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment, a grassroots organization of Filipina women in New York City, are outraged with the current detainment of 43 doctors and healthcare workers, 26 of whom are women, by the Arroyo administration and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP). FiRE strongly condemns the use of torture and sexual harassment on those who have been illegally detained. Before their detainment, the health care workers were participating in a health skills training in Morong, Rizal, in order to learn how to administer basic health services to poor rural communities. Over 300 soldiers from the AFP and the Philippine National Police (PNP) abducted them at gunpoint and proceeded to handcuff and blindfold them. The 43 healthcare workers have been brought to Camp Capinpin in Rizal. They were arrested because the AFP and PNP, acting in accordance with Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya 2, have falsely accused them of being members of the New People’s Army. Oplan Bantay Laya 2 (or Freedom Watch) is a government operative that aims to eliminate so-called “terrorist” organizations in the Philippines, but has instead been responsible for countless human rights violations.

During NYC's snow day, women from FiRE picketed the Philippine Consulate with other Filipino community members.

“The abduction and torture of these 43 innocent healthcare workers is a disgrace to humanity. It unfortunately adds to the record of atrocities that Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have performed on the Filipino people. It must anger numerous Filipino immigrants in America, most of whom are women who are also nurses, caregivers, and healthcare workers, just like the victims. These 43 selfless healthcare workers took care of patients in the poorest sectors of Philippine society and provided endless support to the people that the Philippine government has forever neglected. It is ridiculous that they were silenced in the most violent of terms for simply being critical of the Arroyo administration,” stated Valerie Francisco, chairwoman of Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment.

“This case is too similar to what happened to Filipino-American human rights advocate and healthcare worker, Melissa Roxas. We must never allow anyone to fall victim to torture, sexual harassment, and illegal detainment,” added Francisco.

As a member organization of GABRIELA-USA, a progressive grassroots Filipino women’s alliance in the United States, Filipinas for Rights and Empowerment denounces the ongoing crisis of human rights violations that has been systematized by Gloria Macapagal Arroyo’s Oplan Bantay Laya 2. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is conducting a witch hunt that condemns activists, teachers, and human rights advocates who are critical of her regime by labeling them as terrorists and allowing the Philippine military to detain and torture them. These illegal arrests and the recent massacre by the Ampatuan clan in Maguindanao are the Arroyo government’s threat and scare tactics against citizens who will vote for progressive leaders in the upcoming Philippine presidential elections.

Filipinas in New York City urge all freedom-loving and pro-people citizens of the United States to stand for basic human rights and dignity in the Philippines! This is a cry for true justice and hope that the perpetrators of these crimes will be held accountable by our judicial system.

FREE THE 43 FILIPINO HEALTH WORKERS ILLEGALLY ARRESTED NOW!
STOP VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN! STOP TORTURE IN THE PHILIPPINES!
NO TO IMPUNITY IN THE PHILIPPINES!
JUSTICE FOR ALL VICTIMS OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!
NO TO US MILITARY AID THAT SUPPORTS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!

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