US lawyer calls for peace through respect of people’s economic rights

A prominent American human rights lawyer is calling on Filipinos to use human rights laws and conventions to force the Aquino government into reversing economic policies that adversely affect ordinary citizens, especially the poor.

In her keynote speech before the International Conference on Human Rights and Peace (ICHRPP) at the Great Eastern Hotel in Quezon City, Jeanne Mirer, president of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and a stalwart of the US National Lawyers’ Guild, said government economic policies should adhere to human rights principles.

Stressing the importance of satisfying the people’s economic rights to achieve peace, Mirer said: “It is time that we use human rights law to challenge policies to ensure that Filipinos can make the Philippine government actually devote maximum available resources to progressively realize basic economic human rights articulated in the International Convention on Economic and Socio-Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR).”

Calling the current neo-liberal economic order “undemocratic” and dominated by large multinational corporation, Mirer said the people’s unrest resulting from the failure of such policies are dealt with by repression using, among others, anti-terrorist laws that many countries passed or imposed after the 9-11 bombings, and by surveillance and the type of national security state revealed by both Bradley Manning and most recently Edward Snowden.

Mirer said Filipinos should make the Philippine government accept laws that promote “economic democracy” and allow everyone to enjoy “a social and economic order in which the rights and freedoms set in the UDHR are fully realized.”

She said the fight for human rights has allowed its warriors to become “masters of peace”.

Sison warns of more human rights abuses

In his message to the ICHRPP, Jose Ma. Sison, chairperson of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) and NDF chief political consultant, warned that with the Aquino government’s termination of the peace talks with the NDF, “we can anticipate the escalation of counterrevolutionary violence and human rights violations.”

He scored the Aquino government for enabling multinational banks and firms and local ruling elites “to exploit the broad masses of the people and violate their economic, social and cultural rights, and for using the “coercive apparatuses of the state to discourage and suppress  even lawful petitions and protests, especially those of the militant legal mass movement.”

Sison said that behind the Aquino regime’s all-out war policy against the revolutionary movement are orders from the US to carry out Oplan Bayanihan within the context of the US pivot or strategic shift to East Asia.

“The US wishes to tighten its control over the Philippines and use it to realize its strategic objective vis a vis China. It is hell-bent on further entrenching itself and making the Philippine reactionary government more than ever dependent on US military power. In connection with Oplan Bayanihan, it is goading the Aquino regime to engage in provocations and counter-provocations vis a vis China over the sea west of the Philippines. In this context, we can understand why the Aquino regime has terminated the peace negotiations,” Sison said.

Sison concluded his speech by calling on the conference participants to join the international network for promoting and supporting the cause of human rights and just peace in the Philippines.

The ICHRPP peace advocates from the US, Canada, Asia-Pacific, Latin America, Europe and the Middle East are committed to strengthen the international solidarity movement in defense of human rights and peace in the Philippines.

Conference participants are expected to join the people’s mass mobilization during the State of the Nation Address on July 22. ###

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