“The curtailment of the right to travel and liberty of movement of former house representative Liza Maza shows how the US government transgresses on the basic rights and freedoms of individuals and groups, even those outside its territory,” said Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay in a press conference with Maza.
On July 9, 2015, Maza was barred to board her 12:20 p.m. flight to the US via Korean Air 622. Airline staff and immigration officials told Maza they received email from the Customs Border Protection of the US Homeland Security saying she cannot board the plane. Maza has a valid 10-year US visa (2008-2018) and had traveled to the US before and after 2008. Her last trip to the US was in 2013.
Palabay said “Maza was not even informed of the reasons why she was not allowed to travel. That, by itself violates her right to due process — violating fundamental rights enshrined in the Philippine Constitution, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”
Maza was invited by Gabriela chapters in the US to meet with Filipina migrants and immigrants, and women’s groups. She was slated to attend the International People’s Tribunal on the Crimes of the Obama-Aquino regimes in Washington DC as an expert witness on how the Enhanced Defense Agreement (EDCA) and the US-RP Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) violates Philippine sovereignty and the Filipino people’s rights.
Maza was among the 30-women delegation of known women peace activists who crossed the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North and South Korea last May 24, 2015 as a symbolic action to call for the reunification of the two Koreas and the reunion of families, and women’s participation in the peace process. The event also highlighted women’s contributions in promoting peace in the Asia Pacific region and beyond. Among the women in the delegation were Nobel Peace Prize laureates Mairead Maguire and Leymah Gbowee, Gloria Steinem, and other feminist activists and artists.
Whether Maza was barred from travelling to the US because of her role in the IPT or her participation in the women peace delegation in the two Koreas, it is clear that the US government considers her a ‘person of interest,’ one who is targeted because of her activism for peace and human rights and her vocal opposition to US imperialist designs that infringe on the sovereignty of peoples,” Palabay said.
Karapatan said Maza’s recent experience bolsters the charges lodged at the IPT against the US government for violating the Filipino people’s rights. “Karapatan, victims of rights abuses and their kin, and other progressive organizations—acting as complainants—have indicted the US government and the BS Aquino regime for the numerous civil, political, economic and socio-cultural rights violations and violations on the people’s right to self-determination,” Palabay stated.
The IPT 2015 will be convened on July 16-18, 2015 by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, US-based National Lawyers’ Guild and Ibon International.
See also: press conference of Liza Maza describing how she was barred from boarding a plane bound for US, where she was set to testify at the upcoming International Peoples’ Tribunal on the crimes of the Aquino government. Pinoy Weekly video
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.