Thursday, April 13, 2006

Anti-terrorism bill's passage a death sentence for human rights defenders

April 5, 2006

Anti-terrorism bill's passage a death sentence for human rights defenders

Terrorism is evil and we condemn it for what it is. However, we cannot agree with the so-called Anti-Terrorism measure passed by Congress that is so broad and vague it can and will definitely be abused by an illegitimate President desperately clinging to power.

Under Arroyo's 5-year rule, the Arroyo regime's brand of state terrorism has caused the death of 556 civilians, all victims of extra-judicial killings by suspected military elements and their death squads. At least 198 others survived the attacks on their lives. Only 44 were combatants rendered hors de combat in a span of three years. None of those killed by state security forces were terrorists.

We have every reason to be anxious that the provisions of this anti-terrorist act on proscribing organizations as terrorist will be open to abuse. To date, 23 human rights workers belonging to KARAPATAN have been killed by military and paramilitary agents and their death squads and we believe that it is no coincidence that before they were summarily executed, their names appeared in the military's order of battle and in posters, leaflets and streamers that tagged KARAPATAN and its workers as communists and terrorists.

Human rights defenders like us face greater risk now that the anti-terrorism bill has been passed. With this kind of law, bigoted and brutal beasts in the military like Generals Palparan, Dominguez, Esperon, Tolentino and their ilk who are consistent in labeling legal democratic organizations as communists-terrorists or sympathizers will now have a legal tool for such action.

With 116 YES votes and 27 NO votes, the anti-terrorism measure passed by the lower house will likely aid an administration that is paranoid and has become more murderous in the midst of legitimacy questions.

KARAPATAN lauds the representatives who voted against the anti-terrorism bill that was railroaded and deviously crafted by the minions of Malaca�ang. They are correct in saying that the government's problem is not the lack of laws to combat terrorism but its lack of the judicious enforcement of the laws and the lack of credibility of its law enforcers whom the public suspects of having collusion with terrorist groups.###

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