Friday, March 03, 2006

World outrage at Cong. Beltran's arrest grows

March 2, 2006

"If helping the poor is a crime,
and fighting for freedom is rebellion,
then I plead guilty as charged."
--Crispin Beltran, August 1982 Supreme Court hearing

World outrage at Cong. Beltran's arrest grows
Ka Bel moved to tears at show of international solidarity vs political repression

The illegal arrest and detention of Anakpawis solon Rep. Crispin "Ka Bel" Beltran is beginning to draw outrage from the international community, as the steady influx of support statements to Anakpawis, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU)'s emails shows.

Prior to his confinement at the Philippine National Police (PNP) General Hospital yesterday for hypertension,

Individuals and organizations from at least 17 countries have written letters of protest addressed to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo condemning the illegal and unconstitutional arrest of Cong. Crispin Beltran after the announcement of Presidential Proclamation 1017.

Letters (sent through email), photographs, and support statements from Canada, the United States, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Australia, India, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, Malaysia, Belgium, Norway, Italy, Greece and Hong Kong have been steadily filling the inbox of Cong. Beltran's emails. The letter writers range from international human rights organizations, Filipino immigrants, foreign trade unions and confederations, Malaysian students and Nepalese peasants.

Many also condemned the arrest of Gloria Step Down Movement (GSM) Spokesperson Dennis Maga and KMU member Marcial Badela Monday by the police, while attempting to visit Beltran at Camp Crame, and the attempts to arrest five other progressive partylist representatives Rafael Mariano of Anakpawis, Satur Ocampo, Joel Virador, and Teddy Casino of Bayan Muna, and Liza Maza of Gabriela.

Many of them castigated Pres. Arroyo for her administration's violation of human rights.

"The British Columbia Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (BCCHRP) has publically and widely denounced the illegal and anti-democratic and inhumane declaration of Emergency Rule in the Philippines. Having investigated the human rights situation in the Philippines on an ongoing basis, we are aware that your record of human rights violations is the worst in Philippines history and one of the worst in the world. We are working to draw attention to this irrefutable fact," wrote BCCHRP chairperson Barbara Waldern.

Canadian-based Anti-GATT-WTO activist Aziz Choudry slammed Beltran's illegal detention as a sign of *de facto* Martial Law. "I note that the charge which has been used as a pretext to arrest and detain Congressman Beltran dates back some twenty years to the martial law era, and am greatly concerned that the politically repressive actions of your government are more in keeping with the Marcos era than those of a supposedly parliamentary democracy," Choudry wrote.

Solicitor Luningning Alcuitas-Imperial of Lawyers Rights Watch Canada, a Vancouver-based NGO in special consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, wrote to Pres. Arroyo on March 1.

"We remind you that the Philippine Government is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments. In particular, we remind you that your government is a signatory to the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights, which has an established mechanism to monitor its implementation. Your government is bound to observe all provisions of the said instruments," Imperial wrote.

Many concerned citizens are also writing to their respective governments to condemn the Arroyo administation's human rights violations.

University of Auckland Law Faculty Prof. Jane Kelsey: wrote to New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark, saying "As Prime Minister you are in a unique position to repeat the stand you took in the 1980s. I urge you to convey, publicly, to President Arroyo's representative the New Zealand government's condemnation of the state of emergency and the Philippine government's breach of its international human rights obligations. I also urge you to demand the immediate release of those who have been detained and endorse calls from the Philippines for an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights to inquire into the illegal arrest and detention of Congressman Crisipin Beltran."*

Cong. Beltran was moved to tears after reading the first batch of letters in his cell last Monday, wife Rosario Beltran says.

Copies of the letters and support statements may be procured from the Office of Rep. Beltran.

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