We are mothers, women’s rights advocates and concerned citizens of Australia and New Zealand. We are greatly disturbed that serious human rights violations continue against many women and children in the Philippines.
In particular, we are very concerned about the plight of Miradel Torres, a 27-year-old women’s rights activist and a young mother who was arrested in June 2014 on a trumped-up murder charge while she was four months pregnant and suffering from profuse bleeding that could have led to miscarriage. Upon giving birth this year, Miradel struggled to breastfeed and keep her baby safe from highly infectious diseases inside prison.
We lament that a recent court decision required her baby Karl to be separated from her when the baby turned six months. Keeping Miradel in detention means depriving her of opportunity to bond with her baby in the latter’s crucial first years. It is so sad for this young mother to miss birthdays and other important milestones of family life because of a trumped-up charge—a fate over 500 political prisoners around the country are suffering.
President Aquino has often spoken about his family’s sacrifices when his own father was incarcerated during the Marcos dictatorship. His nephews and nieces are lucky to have the love of his sisters around them.
We now call on the President: Please let Miradel enjoy her right to be with her baby, too. In the name of justice and on humanitarian grounds, we urge you to declare presidential amnesty for all political prisoners on Ninoy Aquino Day come Aug. 21. We believe this will greatly please and honor your father. Mr. President, you have this golden opportunity to leave a legacy of meaningful change in the final year of your administration. Seize it, Sir!
Freedom and justice for Miradel and all political prisoners, now!
HELEN TE HIRA
Auckland Philippines Solidarity
Philippine Caucus for Peace
AND 23 OTHER SIGNATORIES