March 24, 2011
Reference: Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson, BAYAN USA, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
BAYAN USA sends its deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the family of Leonard Weinglass, people’s lawyer, ardent human rights defender, and longtime supporter of the Filipino people’s ongoing struggle for freedom and democracy. Weinglass passed away yesterday in his sleep due to complications with pancreatic cancer. He was 77 years old.
His four-decades long track record in the struggle for justice speaks for itself– defending Mumia Abu-Jamal, The Cuban Five, Angela Davis, The Chicago Seven, Kathy Boudin of the Weather Underground, and even press freedom fighter Julian Assange.
A mainstay figure in the US Civil Rights Movement, Weinglass was also a well-known supporter and advocate for international justice struggles, having been the co-chair of the international committee of the National Lawyers Guild for many years.
As an international human rights lawyer, Weinglass was a well-respected ally and friend of the Filipino people. Having been a vocal opponent to the martial law of the Marcos dictatorship, Weinglass also participated in a fact-finding mission in 1987 with fellow attorney Ramsey Clark to investigate death squads under the first Aquino administration. The mission produced a significant report that conclusively identified the ongoing problem of state repression under the Aquino regime,and particularly the hand of the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) in the Philippine military’s counter-insurgency campaign.
Shortly after the founding of BAYAN USA in 2005, Weinglass was among the US signatories endorsing the Second International Solidarity Mission (ISM) to the Philippines to investigate human rights abuses under the administration of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Weinglass also continuously opened the door to his New York City office to meet with several human rights activists, lawyers, and abuse survivors from the Philippines over the years as he remained concerned about the human rights situation in the country. In 2009, Weinglass joined the core group of the US-based Never Again to Martial Law (NAML) movement that was formed in response to the Arroyo government’s declaration of a state of martial law in Maguindanao following the Ampatuan Massacre in November 2009.
But it was Weinglass’ most recent support as co-counsel and adviser to Filipina-American abduction and torture survivor, and BAYAN USA member, Melissa Roxas for which BAYAN USA will forever be grateful for. In his final years, Weinglass spoke out publicly in defense of Roxas and met several times with BAYAN USA leaders in his Manhattan office to discuss the campaign to prosecute former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for gross human rights violations. Throughout his lifetime, Atty. Weinglass lent his endorsement as a renowned US political activist and international defender of human rights to the overall Filipino people’s struggle for genuine freedom and democracy.
Paalam Len, and thank you for your invaluable solidarity and friendship with the Filipino people. You will be sorely missed. May your selfless example as a people’s lawyer and activist inspire others to continue in the same path.
MABUHAY ANG DIWA NI LEONARD WEINGLASS!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!