Saturday, March 18, 2006

US churches deplore GMA over “human rights violations”, “trampling of democracy”

US churches deplore GMA over “human rights violations”, “trampling of democracy”

The fifth largest Christian denomination in the United States with 11,000 congregations and eight million members has asked President Arroyo to release all Filipinos detained for their participation in non-violent demonstrations and to ensure that all citizens are accorded due process and respect for their rights under the Philippine Constitution.

Bayan Muna also reports that 302 American churchpeople from various denominations and church-based institutions across the US have signed the International Appeal for the release of Rep. Crispin Beltran and for a halt to the persecution of the Batasan 6.

In a letter to Mrs. Arroyo, US Presbyterian Church leader Clifton Kirkpatrick expressed dismay that “instead of addressing the people’s grievances, your government has dealt with the situation by the use of military force,” in a pointed reference to Proclamation 1017.

Kirkpatrick lamented that “while the rationale for such a response was the need to ‘maintain law and order’, it led in fact to “needless escalation of violence, human rights violations, the curtailment of people’s freedoms and a trampling of democracy.”

The 302 American signatories to the International Appeal were gathered during the Ecumenical Advocacy Days held on March 10-13 in Arlington, Virginia where special prayers were said for human rights in the Philippines.

Signatories included elders, deacons, pastors, priests, nuns, seminarians, human rights coordinators and students belonging to the US Presbyterian Church, National Council of Churches in the USA, the US United Methodist Church, the United Church of Christ, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the US Episcopal Church, the Unitarian Universalists, the US Roman Catholic Church, the Christian Church-Disciples of Christ, the Mennonite Church, the Southern Baptist Church, the Religious Society of Friends, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod;

Maryknoll Office of Global Concerns, United Methodist Board of Church and Society, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, Witness for Peace, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Church World Service, American Friends Service Committee, Jubilee USA Network, US Catholic Mission, Africa Faith and Justice Network, Washington Office on Africa, Florida Council of Churches, and the Chicago Religious Leaders Network.

Bayan Muna President and Partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo welcomed the US Presbyterian Church statement and the signatures of the American churchpeople. “This is proof that the lies of the Arroyo regime cannot for so long hide the brazen violations of our civil liberties and rights as a people.”

“More peoples of faith from across the world are beginning to learn about the Arroyo regime’s political persecution of its critics. The new fascist Arroyo dictatorship is slowly reaping worldwide rebukes for its brazen violations of due process and human rights.”

Bayan Muna Chairperson Dr. Reynaldo Lesaca Jr. and Rosario Beltran, wife of Rep. Beltran, issued the International Appeal to rally worldwide support for the Batasan 6.

A separate International Appeal to Fellow Parliamentarians, signed by the Batasan 6, was also sent to members of national legislatures across the globe. ###

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