Summary of discussions and points of agreement
at the International Conference for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines
Quezon City, Philippines
20 July 2013
By Dr. CAROL P. ARAULLO
Chairperson, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN, New Patriotic Alliance)
We want peace with justice. Without justice there can be no peace. We want peace AND justice. But we have neither.
The world is divided mainly into the rich, powerful, industrial countries on one hand, and the poor, backward, agrarian countries on the other— what is referred to as the North and the South, and we are not talking about geography;
In every country, society is divided between the few in the ruling classes who own the instruments and forces that create social wealth, and enjoy the fruits of that social wealth, and the many who toil to create that social wealth but barely benefit from it.
The very rich, powerful, industrial countries collaborate in exploiting the poor, backward, agrarian countries on one hand, while they are compelled to compete and contend with each other for domination and control of these weaker countries on the other hand. This has led to wars – world wars and proxy wars for maintaining and expanding each one’s spheres of influence, markets, sources of cheap labor and raw materials and for the export of capital. The US strives to consolidate its hegemony while arresting its economic decline, by controlling strategic resources, communications and supply lines and sources and means of disseminating information. That is the real rationale for its wars of aggression, military intervention and occupation all over the world today.
The exploitation and oppression has led to widespread and increasing poverty and misery, and gross violations of the political, social, economic and cultural rights of the peoples in both the advanced and backward countries, as well as the national sovereignty rights of the peoples of backward countries. On the other hand, exploitation and oppression leads to social unrest – people protest and resist in such forms as worker strikes, peasant demonstrations, student and youth boycotts and in new movements like the Occupy Movement in the US and May 15 and “indignados” movements in Spain – until a threshold is reached, pushing the people to either rise up in unarmed uprisings to overthrow oppressive and repressive regimes or armed struggles for national and social liberation.
No ruling elite has ever willingly given up its wealth and power – most especially state power – to the very people from whom it has appropriated that wealth and power. They respond with deception, coercion and brute force. Everywhere, bubbles of illusion and deception are created about economic progress, peace and harmony, alleviation of poverty, globalization of capital and the spread of prosperity to poor countries with the dismantling of trade, investment and currency barriers.
These ruling classes in the richest, most powerful industrial countries – the G7 leaders – have resorted to and imposed neoliberalism worldwide to cushion the effects of recurring economic crises on their profits, depressing the wages and destroying the livelihoods of the toiling peoples. The unintended but inevitable consequence has been the further constriction of markets, aggravating overproduction and rendering the production of goods less and less profitable.
The monopoly capitalists, having much earlier turned from industrialists to finance capitalists, liberalized and deregulated finance capital, opening the floodgates to financialization and the wanton abuse of financial instruments. This brought about the global financial crisis that led to the 2008 global depression.
The biggest imperialist countries (G7) are attempting to conceal their schemes by forming the G20, taking into their side the so-called emergent countries or BRICS.
The US continues to wage its wars of aggression, intervention and occupation throughout the world despite the pretext of “war on terror” having been stripped off. The US blatantly tramples on the sovereignty of nations, violates international law and international humanitarian law including the UN Charter, as it consolidates its global hegemony. Acting on their superiors’ orders, US troops perpetrate the gravest human rights violations with impunity. While it has announced a strategic shift to the Asia Pacific in a transparent move to contain and prepare for a confrontation with China.
Genocide, massacres, assassination, torture, enforced disappearances, massive internal displacements, sanctions – economic blockades, are rampant in countries and regions where the US, its surrogate allied security forces and mercenary military contractors conduct counter-insurgency campaigns in the name of preserving peace-enforcement, internal civil defense, counter-narcotics, humanitarian operations such as during disasters, joint military exercises, etc. (Examples of these are the Oplan Bayanihan in the Philippines, as well as in Kurdistan, Colombia, Peru and others and the continuing security operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya), as well as in covert subversive activities in countries such as in Cuba, Venezuela and Pakistan.
In the Philippines, the Aquino government’s National Internal Peace and Security Plan is disguised as a “peace and development” program giving primacy to non-military measures, mimicking the same pretense as prescribed in the 2009 US Counterinsurgency Guide. But in reality it retains the policy and practice of previous administrations’ wanton violations of human rights, including systematic perpetration of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, illegal arrests and detention, and other gross violations of human rights with impunity.
Recently, the Aquino government took a big leap further away from already dim prospects for peace by announcing that it was no longer willing to return to the peace talks, thus virtual but not formally terminating the peace negotiations
Indeed, the reactionaries are totally incapable of learning the lessons of history, and are thus doomed to repeat them. Failing to achieve on the negotiating table the capitulation of the NDFP, the Aquino government is now banking once again on the old, worn out and failed military and related counter-insurgency measures to crush the revolutionary movement. It seems to have forgotten that fourteen years of untrammelled military campaigns under the US-backed Marcos dictatorship utterly failed to weaken, much less defeat, the CPP-NPA-NDFP. Alas, the government foolishly pins its hopes on the planned US Pivot.
The people want peace and justice. And they know – we know — it will not be handed to them on a silver platter by those in power. It is something they, we, have to fight for, sacrifice for, die for. And the people will never tire from doing so.
The people make use of all forms, all arenas for the struggle. We join and accompany them on the paths they choose to tread.
We know the cost. We have lost not only our comrades and kin, we have lost families and entire villages. And it hurts as much when a fellow human rights defender in our own community is disappeared, or assassinated, as it does when that human rights defender is from a village thousands of miles away, but struggling for the same peace and justice we aspire for. As much as it hurts and saddens us, their sacrifice inspires and pushes us to carry on, confident that we are not weakened, on the contrary we gain strength; we are not alone and isolated, we are everywhere; we will not be defeated, we shall be victorious.
We are all cognizant of how crucial international solidarity is to our struggles. We have numerous and outstanding experiences of struggles being given that needed boost at just the right time to make a difference. Yet we also know there is much to be done in this department. This is why we have come together now, to map out how we can strengthen and expand this solidarity.
Long live internationalism!
Dare to struggle, dare to win!