Resolution calling on all progressive migrants and human rights advocates to support the struggle and call to stop the political persecution of progressive leaders, political refugees and migrants, like Prof. Jose Maria Sison.
International Migrants’ Alliance Founding Assembly
June 15-17, 2008, Hongkong
1) WHEREAS, Prof. Jose Maria Sison, is a political scientist, theoretician, teacher, multi-awarded poet and acknowledged leader of the patriotic and democratic movement in the Philippines fighting for meaningful national and social change, and chairperson of the anti-imperialist global formation, the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS).
2) WHEREAS, under the Marcos fascist dictatorship, the Philippine government subjected Prof. Jose Maria Sison to arbitrary detention from 1977 to 1986 and to various forms of physical and mental torture, including water cure, punching, more than five years of solitary confinement, prolonged deprivation of basic necessities as well as medical and dental care and repeated death threats. He was arrested and detained without judicial warrant and was charged before two military commissions for subversion and rebellion. He was thus put in jeopardy of being punished twice for the same alleged offense of seeking to overthrow the Philippine government;
3) WHEREAS, after the fall of the Marcos dictatorship, the Aquino regime released Prof. Sison from military detention on March 5, 1986. The two charges of subversion and rebellion against him were nullified through the dissolution of the military commissions as organs of repression. He joined the faculty of the Asian Studies Center of the state institution, the University of the Philippines in April 1986. From September 1986 onwards, he went on a tour for a series of university lectures and solidarity speeches in Oceania, Asia and Europe on the situation and prospects of the Philippines. The Philippine military authorities publicly attacked his lectures and pressured the Aquino regime to cancel his Philippine passport. They trumped up a new charge of subversion against him in September 1988. This became the basis for the cancellation of his Philippine passport;
4) WHEREAS, after the arbitrary cancellation of his passport, Prof. Sison applied for political asylum in The Netherlands in October 1988. The Dutch Ministry of Justice used the false charge of subversion and related false claims against him from the Philippine government as the basis for issuing a negative decision on his asylum application in July 1990. The US State Department admitted publicly that the Philippine government intervened in the asylum case in order to oppose it. But the highest administrative court, the Judicial Department of the Council of State (Raad van State), made a judgment in 1992 annulling the unfavorable decision of the Dutch Ministry of Justice. It recognized Prof. Sison as a political refugee and criticized the ministry for using secret intelligence dossiers against him in contravention of the principle of fair administration and for delaying for more than four years the approval of his asylum application;
5) WHEREAS, despite the 1992 judgment of the Council of State, the Dutch Ministry of Justice refused to grant asylum to Prof. Sison. It also ignored the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Law by the Philippine government in 1992 and the consequent dismissal of the charge of subversion against Prof. Sison by the Pasig city court and the related nullification of the specifications against him. It likewise disregarded the resolution of the Manila city prosecutors in April 1994 dismissing as something based on pure speculation the 1991 complaint of multiple murder arising from the Plaza Miranda bombing in 1971. It continued to use the false charges against Prof. Sison and argue that to grant him asylum would run counter to the commitment and credibility of the Dutch state to its allies. Further, it cited raw intelligence dossiers to fabricate the claim that he is in contact with “terrorist” organizations. It was thus already using the “terrorist” label against him as early as in the years from 1990 to 1994;
6) WHEREAS, in response to the new appeal of Prof. Sison in 1993, the Council of State, as the highest administrative court, issued in 1995 the judgment reaffirming its previous ruling that he is a political refugee under Article 1 A of the Refugee Convention and that he is under the protection of Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. It ruled that Article 1 F of the Refugee Convention did not apply on him because there was no sufficient evidence against him for crimes that would exclude him from consideration as a refugee. It directed the Dutch Ministry of Justice to grant him legal admission as refugee and residence permit if there was no other country to which he could transfer without violating the Refugee Convention and without putting him at risk of ill treatment prohibited by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. But the Dutch Ministry of Justice ignored the judgment of the Council of State and continued to refuse him legal admission as refugee and the permit to reside in The Netherlands;
7) WHEREAS, Prof. Sison appealed to the newly-created Aliens Court in 1996 against the refusal of the Dutch justice ministry to grant him asylum. The court ordered the Dutch government to make a new decision. The Dutch government ultimately took the position before the Law Unification Chamber (REK, Rechtseenheidkamer) that it had the freedom of policy or discretion to refuse to Prof. Sison legal admission as a refugee and not to give him residence permit but to cease and desist from expelling him from The Netherlands in order to avoid the violation of the principle of nonrefoulement in Article 33 of the Refugee Convention and Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Being dependent on justice ministry personnel, funds and facilities, the REK upheld the position of the Dutch Ministry of Justice and dignified the brazen lie that Prof. Sison was liable for the false accusations of the Philippine government and for “contacts with terrorist organizations” on the basis of intelligence dossiers already examined and evaluated by the Raad van State in 1992 and 1995. It ran counter to the 1992 and 1995 judgments of the Raad van State, the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights in the Chahal case, the dismissal of all charges against Prof. Sison in the Philippines from 1992 to 1994 and the total absence of any criminal charge against him abroad;
8) WHEREAS, in April 1998 the justice secretary of the Philippine government issued an official certification declaring that there was no pending criminal charge against Prof. Sison and referred to the 1992 nullification and 1993 dismissal of the 1988 charge of subversion as well as the 1994 dismissal of the 1991 charge of multiple murder related to the Plaza Miranda bombing. From 1994 to 2003, the Philippine government, including the military and police authorities, took a rest from filing any formal criminal complaint against Prof. Sison. The Philippine military authorities merely hurled propaganda attacks against him, despite the fact that the Philippine government had already requested the US government in November 2001 to designate Prof. Sison as a “terrorist”. It was only in 2003 that they submitted to the Department of Justice a complaint against him for the June 2001 killing of the intelligence officer Col. Rodolfo Aquinaldo. The Filipino lawyers of Prof. Sison succeeded in having the complaint archived because of its patent falsity and political motivation and because of the lack of Philippine jurisdiction over him in the light of Philippine and international law;
9) WHEREAS, the US government designated Prof. Sison as a “terrorist” on August 12, 2002 and the Dutch government followed suit within 24 hours on August 13, 2002 despite the completely clean legal status of Prof. Sison, despite the absence of any specific act of terrorism that can be ascribed to him, despite the absence of any kind of criminal charge or investigation involving him and despite the Hernandez doctrine in Philippine jurisprudence concerning political offenses and the absence then of any anti-terrorism law in the Philippines. The “terrorist” blacklisting of Prof. Sison by the US and other governments has placed him in a position worse than that of a convicted murderer. He is prohibited from gainful employment. He is deprived of his social benefits, including living allowance, housing, medical insurance, civil liability insurance and old age pension. His bank account is frozen. He is prevented from receiving royalty payments for the publication of his books. He is preempted from receiving compensation for damages due to him for winning his human rights case against the Marcos regime. His fundamental rights have been violated, including the right to the essential means of human existence, the right to the presumption of innocence, the right to defense, the right to be informed of reasons for the sanctions, the right to judicial protection, the right to private and family life, the right of free movement, the right against slander and defamation and the right to be secure against threats to life and reputation;
10) WHEREAS, out to please the US and Philippine governments politically, the Dutch government, with the open lobbying of Philippine authorities, pushed the Council of the European Union to blacklist Prof. Sison on October 28, 2002. Two days after the blacklist decision of the Council, the Dutch government repealed its blacklisting of Prof. Sison but persisted in violating his fundamental rights and causing material and moral damage to him by invoking the Council decision. The Dutch and British governments are the main interveners in support of the Council of the European Union in the case filed by Prof. Sison against the Council before the European Court of First Instance in Luxembourg since February 2003. The Dutch government is the main source of the lies given to the court that (a) Prof. Sison is liable for “terrorism” (and not for rebellion under the Hernandez political offense doctrine of Philippine jurisprudence) for being allegedly the Chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines and head of the New People’s Army and (b) the 1992 and 1995 judgments of the Dutch Council of State and the 1997 judgment of the REK on his asylum case held Prof. Sison liable for “terrorism” (contrary to the fact that these courts recognized him as a political refugee under Article 1 A of the Refugee Convention and as someone protected by Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights);
11) WHEREAS, in 2005 Arroyo and her henchmen in the Cabinet Oversight Committee on Internal Security and the Anti-Terrorism Task Force started to escalate false accusations against Prof. Sison in the mass media and pushed military officers to file baseless charges of common crimes (like murder, robbery, kidnapping and the like) against him in connection with incidents ascribed to the New People’s Army in various parts of the Philippines. The campaign of slander was obviously intended to reinforce the “terrorist” blacklisting of Prof. Sison by various foreign governments and to justify the intensified extrajudicial killing, abduction and torture of progressive legal activists. It was also intended to link Prof. Sison to a broad united front of legal political forces striving to lead the people to oust the Arroyo regime for having cheated in the presidential elections of 2004. The filing of criminal charges against Prof. Sison culminated in an omnibus charge of rebellion in April 21, 2006 against him and 50 other people, including underground revolutionary leaders, progressive congressmen and anti-Arroyo military officers. The purported facts of the charge of rebellion covered the entire period, from the founding of the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968 to the filing of the charge on April 21, 2006 and disregarded the nullification of charges and the amnesty proclamations from 1986 to 1995;
12) WHEREAS, on April 23, 2007 the Council of the European Union sent to Prof. Sison a letter with a one-page statement that repeats the two lies provided by the Dutch government, as mentioned in No. 9 above. On May 22, 2007 he sent a letter of reply and told the Council that the statement of lies had already been presented by the Council to the European Court of First Instance, has been debunked in court and does not amount to a statement of reasons as required of the Council by the court in cases of “terrorist” blacklisting. Then the Council made a new decision on June 28, 2007 blacklisting Prof. Sison on the basis of the aforesaid lies it had made before. This new decision of the Council is obviously intended to serially perpetuate Prof. Sison in the ‘terrorist” blacklist, continually violate his fundamental rights, cause material and moral damage to him and undermine or render useless any favorable judgment of the European Court of First Instance on his case against the Council of the European Union;
13) WHEREAS, the European Court of First Instance issued its judgment on the Sison case on July 11, 2007 annulling the decision of the Council placing him on the “terrorist” list and freezing his financial assets. The annulment is grounded on the Council’s infringement of Prof. Sison’s right to defense, its failure to give a statement of reasons from the second time that it blacklisted him and the violation of his right to judicial protection. The court does not require the Council to pay for the material and moral damages suffered by Prof. Sison due to its decision and fails to mention that the Dutch government has invoked the decision of the Council in order to inflict material and moral damages on him. However, the court requires the Council to pay for the costs of the litigation to the lawyers of Prof. Sison as plaintiff and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines as intervener. Insofar as it can be established that the Dutch government has directly inflicted material and moral damages on Prof. Sison, he can take legal action to seek compensation for such damages. But it can be expected that the Dutch government will resort to every legal trickery to evade accountability;
14) WHEREAS, in the meantime, Prof. Sison has won a resounding legal victory in the Philippines. The Philippine Supreme Court issued on July 2, 2007 a judgment nullifying the omnibus charge of rebellion and all the supposed evidence from 1968 to 2006 against Prof. Sison and his 50 other co-accused. In effect, the supposed evidence cannot be used again against all or any of them in any new charge. The solicitor general has publicly admitted that the value of the state’s stock of purported evidence has been wiped out. This is the latest instance when Prof. Sison is cleared of a criminal charge. It previously happened in 1986, 1992, 1994 and 1998. At this moment, the Philippine and foreign governments persecuting Prof. Sison should be at a loss in holding him liable for any criminal offense or any semblance of this. The Philippine government can fabricate a charge of rebellion against Prof. Sison only from the date after April 21, 2006 and a charge of “terrorism” from July 15, 2007 which is the date the Human Security Act of 2007 became effective. However, the Human Security Act of 2007 is now under fire by a broad range of democratic forces, human rights organizations and legal experts in the Philippines and abroad for being patently unconstitutional;
15) WHEREAS, Prof. Sison has won a significant legal victory with the July 11, 2007 judgment of the European Court of First Instance. But he still needs to complete his legal victory by contending with the preemptive June 28, 2008 decision of the Council retaining him in the “terrorist” blacklist and by filing a new application for annulment of said decision insofar as he is concerned. He still has to defend his fundamental rights and demand compensation for the material and moral damages inflicted on him;
16) WHEREAS, we expect that the Philippine, US and Dutch governments will continue to persecute Prof. Jose Maria Sison by using against him their political power and the existing fascist “anti-terrorism” laws and decisions that they have devised in order to justify state terrorism and wars of aggression. We need to continue and intensify both the political and legal struggles of democratic forces and the people of the world in order defend the fundamental rights of Prof. Sison and other victims of the global trend of fascisation and aggressive wars generated by the imperialist powers and their reactionary puppets;
17) BE IT HEREBY RESOLVED, that the founding assembly of the International Migrants Alliance (IMA), rally everyone to support the struggle and call to stop immediately the persecution of progressive leaders, legitimate political refugees and migrants, like Prof. Jose Maria Sison and the suppression of anti-imperialist and democratic forces and peoples fighting for national liberation, greater freedom, social justice, development and world peace!