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    International Human Rights Organization Calls for Surfacing of Youth Leaders Patricia Cierva and Cedrick Casaño


    Press Release
    June 1, 2023

    As the world marked the International Week of the Disappeared, soldiers from the Philippine Army’s 501st Infantry Brigade (Bde) are alleged to have abducted peasant and youth organizers Michael Cedrick Casaño and Patricia Nicole Cierva. According to reports from concerned citizens, on May 16, 2023, Cedrick and Cierva were captured alive by elements of 501st IBde in Barangay Cabiroaoan, Gonzaga town, Cagayan.

    “The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) demands an end to the reign of terror on political dissent, and calls for the immediate surfacing of all activists who have been forcibly disappeared by state forces,” said Peter Murphy, ICHRP Chairperson.

    “The whole world must know that the new Marcos Jr administration in the Philippines continues the brazen violation of human rights carried out by former President Duterte. In particular, the forcible disappearance of progressive political activists is already worse than under Duterte,” Mr. Murphy said.

    Patricia Cierva is a high-profile former student leader, held in affection by her generation of students. Pat was prominent at the University of the Philippines Manila 2016-19, and Chairperson of the Kabataan Party-List for the National Capital Region in 2018. A student in development studies, she opted to do her practicum in Cagayan Province in the north-east of Luzon in 2019. She went back to Cagayan province to share her knowledge and empower the farmer communities.

    Cedrick Casaño is a former philosophy student at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines. He was an active campaigner for the “Green Platform” in Cagayan, where magnetite sand mining operations were damaging the environment that would result to food insecurity and biodiversity loss. 

    The reported incidents of Enforced Disappearance are alarming and seem to be the trend. One of the most recent cases is the enforced disappearance of indigenous peoples’ rights defenders Gene Roz “Bazoo” de Jesus and Dexter Capuyan, who went missing since May 18, 2023.

    To date the Philippine Government has not ratified the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED). It was one of the recommendations by several UN member states including Japan, France, Denmark, Italy and Brazil during the Universal Periodic Review in 2022, which the Philippines has not accepted.

    “The spate of Enforced Disappearances during this first 11 months of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. is a full proof that the lives of Filipino community activists are at stake. The Philippine government must surface the disappeared, and ratify and comply with ICPPED”, concluded Murphy.

    Contact: Peter Murphy +61 418 312 301 [email protected] 

    Secretary-General’s Remarks to Security Council Welcomed by International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines


    Press Release
    May 29, 2023

    “The Secretary-General António Guterres told the Security Council on May 23 that the laws of war which protect civilians in conflict zones are being ignored. He rightly referred to conflicts in Ukraine and Africa, and his remarks also apply forcefully to the deplorable situation in the Philippines,” said Peter Murphy, Chairperson of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.

    “The terrible truth is that the world is failing to live up to its commitments to protect civilians; commitments enshrined in international humanitarian law. The Geneva Conventions of 1949 and their Additional Protocols are the cornerstone of that legal framework,” Mr. Guterres said.

    “We must never lose sight of the meaning and purpose of international humanitarian law: it is the difference between life and death; between restraint and anarchy; between losing ourselves in horror and retaining our humanity. But law overlooked is law undermined. We need action and accountability to ensure it is respected. That depends on political will,” said Mr Guterres.

    “ICHRP emphatically endorses the Secretary-General’s call for an end to attacks on civilians, for political dialogue to end armed conflicts, and for countries to refuse to sell weapons to any party that fails to comply with international humanitarian law,” said Mr Murphy.

    “As Mr Guterres said, states must investigate alleged war crimes, prosecute perpetrators and enhance other States’ capacity to do so,” he said.

    ICHRP initiated three reports on the human rights situation in the Philippines in 2021, which reported to the United Nations Human Rights Council and the International Criminal Court, and managed an International Election Observer Mission for the 2022 Presidential election.

    “We documented cases of mortar, artillery and air strikes on civilian communities in the Philippines, including the use of banned phosphorus weapons, and many cases of red-tagging that resulted in arrests and detentions, involuntary disappearances and extra judicial killings/assassinations of civilian political critics at the hands of the Duterte government and now the Marcos government. ICHRP continues to receive reports of hamletting / the forcible reconcentration of communities, and the destruction or seizure of properties depriving the people of their sources of livelihoods,” said Mr. Murphy.

    The longstanding peace process between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines remains afoot, with the Royal Norwegian Government as Third Party Facilitator. But these talks were stopped by President Duterte at the end of 2017, and instead, state forces have been filing trumped-up charges, jailing and even assassinating NDFP negotiators and peace consultants.

    Despite all the evidence of breaches of international humanitarian law in its so-called counterinsurgency operations, the USA, Canada, Australia, Japan and South Korea continue to provide weapons to the Philippine armed forces.

    “The International Criminal Court is investigating crimes against humanity committed in the Philippines while it was a party to the Rome Statute, because its judicial system has failed to investigate, failed to provide remedies to the victims. And it is high time that the Security Council took the same view, that the Philippine government commits war crimes and the impunity must end,” concluded Mr Murphy.

    Further comment: Peter Murphy +61 418 312 301 [email protected]

    ICHRP Statement on the 75th Anniversary of the Nakba



    May 15, 2023

    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) calls for justice for the Palestinian people on the 75th anniversary of the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe). The Nakba drove an estimated 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, displacing the vast majority of the population, turning them into refugees. The figure represents approximately 75% of indigenous Palestinians who had previously resided within what became Israel’s armistice lines in 1949. 

    ICHRP works hard to uphold the human rights of the Filipino Peoples, against a culture of impunity which is tacitly supported by the international community, a painful situation which the Palestinian people endure every day. Our work is built on the sense of justice and struggle of ordinary people in many countries, who are able to press their governments to take action from time to time, including at the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. This is also the basis of our solidarity with the Palestinian People.

    The Nakba involved the depopulation and destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages and the subsequent geographical erasure of Palestine. This occurred through Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine, its exiling of Palestinians and forcing them to be refugees, its dispossession of Palestinian property, its destruction of Palestinian cities, towns, and villages, and its attempt to erase the existence of the Palestinian from what is Palestine. 

    Having secured the support of the occupying British government and the recently established United Nations  for the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine on May 14, 1948, when the British Mandate expired, the provisional government backed by its militia forces declared the establishment of the State of Israel.  This triggered the first Arab-Israeli war. 

    In the period after this 1947-49 war, a large number of Palestinians attempted to return to their homes and between 2,700 and 5,000 Palestinians were killed by the state of Israel.  

    During the 1947-49 war, Zionist military forces attacked major Palestinian cities and destroyed some 530 villages. About 15,000 Palestinians were killed in a series of incidents of mass atrocities, including dozens of massacres.

    On April 9, 1948, Zionist forces committed one of the most infamous massacres of the war in the village of Deir Yassin on the western edge of Jerusalem. More than 110 men, women and children were killed by members of the Irgun and Stern Gang, which were right-wing Zionist militias. The Deir Yassin massacre took place despite the villagers having earlier agreed to a peace pact with the neighbouring community of Givat Shaul. 

    Many villagers who were taken prisoner were paraded through Jerusalem’s Old City by the militias in order to widely publicise their “victory” in Deir Yassin. In several other Palestinian villages, Nakba survivors reportedly displaced and fled after hearing about the massacre in Deir Yassin, fearing similar violence. News of the killings sparked terror among Palestinians across the country, frightening them and forced to flee their homes in the face of Zionist troop advances.

    There remain some 6 million registered Palestinian refugees living in at least 58 camps located throughout Palestine and neighbouring countries. There are at least 2.3 million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, 1.5 million refugees in Gaza, 870,000 refugees in the occupied West Bank, 438,000 refugees in Syria, 480,000 refugees in Lebanon, 120,000 Palestinian refugees displaced from Syria to Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Egypt and increasingly, to Europe.

    According to international law, refugees have the right to return to their homes and property from which they have been displaced. Many Palestinians still hope to return to Palestine.

    The Nakba Continues

    Some 750,000 Israeli settlers currently live in roughly 250 settlements in the occupied West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem. These Israeli settlements are illegal under international law.

    Every year, Israel demolishes hundreds of Palestinian homes. Between 2009 and 2022, at least 8,413 Palestinian-owned structures were demolished by Israeli forces, displacing at least 12,491 people. Settler attacks against Palestinians and their property are a regular occurrence in the Occupied West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem, home to some three million Palestinians.   

    The Nakba is a continuing process of displacement that has never stopped. The Israeli government has openly funded and built settlements for Israeli Jews to live in, offering incentives and subsidised housing. The population of Israeli settlers in the Occupied West Bank and Occupied East Jerusalem is now growing faster than the Israeli population of Israel.

    ICHRP stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people on the 75th anniversary of the start of the Nakba. 

    ICHRP calls for an end to the Israeli repression of the Palestinian people, an end to the occupation and the unwinding of all illegal settlements and the return of all properties taken from Palestinians since 1947. 

    From the river to the sea, Palestine must be free!

    Further comment: Peter Murphy, ICHRP Chairperson, +61418312301

    [email protected]

    ICHRP Labor Day Statement


    May 2, 2023

    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) salutes the unity of the Philippines’ labor movement as demonstrated in the massive mobilization organized by All Philippine Trade Union alliance on May 1, Labor Day.

    It is high time that the different labor groups joined hand in hand to push together for the much needed national minimum wage hike of P750 across the board and the lowering of prices of commodities. The last national minimum wage hike was in the 1980s and the current purchasing power of workers wages does not meet the international standard for a living wage.

    “As the plight of workers continues to worsen under the administration of President Bongbong Marcos, it is vital and just for workers to assert their rights on the occasion of Labor Day,” said Peter Murphy, Chairperson of ICHRP Global Council.

    “We continue to support the International Labor Organization (ILO)’s recently concluded High Level Tripartite Mission (HLTM) recommendations in achieving justice for victims of the Philippine government’s violations of workers’ rights. The Marcos Jr. government must uphold ILO Convention Nos. 87 and 98 on the Freedom of Association and to collectively bargain, which the Philippines ratified in 1953,” continued Murphy.

    Despite being party to these conventions, the Philippines continue to grievously violate workers’ rights and has a poor track record in implementing laws that promote the welfare of workers. From the Duterte to Marcos Jr. administrations, union leaders and organizers continue to be red-tagged, harassed, killed, and slapped with trump-up charges. Union-busting also remains prevalent while labor organizers who exercise their right to organize, collectively bargain and participate in mobilizations are red-tagged through the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC).

    ICHRP will continue to support the Philippine labor movement’s call for higher wages, an end to contractualization and for respect for their right to organize. We shall continue to expose to the international community the Philippine government’s continuing gross violations of workers’ rights.

    ICHRP Condemns Blatant International Humanitarian Law Violations of the Philippine Government


    Press Release
    May 2, 2023

    The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) condemns the blatant and rampant human rights and international humanitarian law (IHL) violations perpetrated by the Philippine government under President Bongbong Marcos.

    “President Bongbong Marcos continues to implement the counterinsurgency program of the Duterte administration. This has resulted in a widespread, very brutal and inhumane campaign of human rights and IHL violations against non-combatants, wounded fighters unable to resist (hors de combat), and prisoners of war in the ongoing armed conflict in the country,” said Peter Murphy, ICHRP Global Council Chairperson.

    “Countless incidents of hamletting, red-tagging, harassment of civilians, and indiscriminate firing and bombing of communities have been reported already this year in different areas of the Philippines, including Cagayan Valley, Southern Tagalog, Eastern Visayas, Negros Island, and Mindanao. This clearly violates the Geneva Conventions of 1949 and its Additional Protocols of 1977, ratified by the Philippine government, and numerous provisions under Part IV (On IHL) of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL), an agreement signed by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).”

    A recent case of IHL violation is the brutal killing last August 21, 2022 of Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, along with eight other members (dubbed the ‘Catbalogan 10’) of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). They were unarmed and reported captured alive and should have been treated as prisoners of war. Wilma Tiamzon was reported to be very sick and should have been treated as hors de combat. But upon capturing the 10, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) killed them, put their remains in a boat, and exploded the boat, splattering their remains and mutilating their lifeless bodies.

    “As they were captured unarmed and in no condition to fight, the Catbalogan 10 should have been accorded respect for their rights, as stipulated in the Geneva Conventions on IHL and the CARHRIHL. This case shows that the Philippine government does not respect its own signature in international conventions and is hell bent to follow the counter-insurgency prescriptions of its master, the United States,” continued Murphy.

    Benito Tiamzon as a member of the NDFP negotiating panel, and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon as a consultant, made substantial contributions to advance the peace negotiations with the GRP during the early part of the Duterte administration. But the Tiamzons, like most of those involved in the negotiating of the last round of peace agreements with the Duterte regime, have been subsequently killed by the Duterte and Marcos governments.

    “ICHRP calls on the Philippine government to uphold the rights of civilians and their communities, as well as combatants rendered hors de combat and prisoners of war, and non-combatants who are members of the warring parties in the ongoing civil war in the country. It will also continue to support calls to address the roots of the armed conflict and attain just and lasting peace for the Filipino people,” concluded Murphy.