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The Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) condemns the harassment and deportation of Atty. Brian Campbell, a progressive foreign lawyer and internationalist supporting the struggles of the Filipino people.
Yesterday evening, Atty. Brian Campbell, a participant of the conference on "Jobs and Justice", was deported from the country. At Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) he was refused to enter the country by the immigration authorities. Atty. Campbell is a labor lawyer affiliated with the Washington DC-based International Labor Rights Fund.
As I write this letter, I am sitting in the Manila airport under guard awaiting expulsion from the Philippines. I have not yet been told the exact nature of my transgression, yet official silence is nothing new here. You can rest assure that I am being denied entry into the Philippines as just another small part of the government’s concerted long-standing campaign to silence the critics of the Arroyo regime and the political killings.
Only just a few months ago, I participated in an International Solidarity Mission sponsored by the Center for Trade Union and Human Rights and the Ecumenical Institute of Labor Education and Research. During my stay here, I met with several families of political killings, including the Mrs. Luz Fortuna, the husband of Diasdado “Ka Fort” Fortuna, I had the privilege of meeting with the Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines where, to our relief, the commission officially ruled that his murder was a human rights violation and a violation of international law.
I was returning again to the Philippines at the invitation of other human rights organizations to discuss the ongoing killings of community leaders and critics of the Arroyo regime. Specifically, I was to meet with the family of Bishop Ramento who was killed just two months ago, to offer my condolences and to discuss how organizations like mine in other countries can help Bishop Ramento’s family continue his great work helping the families of the Hacienda Luscita Massacre and other workers in the Philippines.
Unfortunately, I have been denied entry into the country. And, I, along with many other participants of the last May’s International Labor Solidarity Mission, has been blacklisted from returning to the Philippines. I am not the only attorney barred from the country. When attempting to determine why I was on the blacklist, I was able to see other names of human rights attorneys who have also been barred entry. Though I was only able to take a glance at the list, I recognized the names of other well-known U.S. human rights attorneys, including Atty. Rachel Lederman and Tina Monshipur Foster, who were both recently the guests of Gabriella and Karapatan and published a report in the United States critical of the Arroyo government efforts to bring an end to the killings.
The Filipino government’s reasons for expelling me from this country will never be known to me or the others on the blacklist. Perhaps they’ve labeled me a communist sympathizer and a threat to the peace of the Philippines as they have most other critics of the government’s policies. Perhaps they are simply seeking to prevent others like me from helping our friends in the Philippines who remain under constant military surveillance and threat, like the attorneys at Pro-Labor Legal Assistance Center. What is clear, though, is that rule of law and freedom of speech is suffering in the Philippines today. As the Philippines moves further away from the principle upon which it was founded, people are afraid to speak out for fear of being listed on the Order of Battle, something far worse than the blacklist I am on. Though I applaud the idea of an independent commission, such as the Melo Commission, for investigating these political killings, any investigation will remain inadequate so long as the people are afraid to speak and those who order the killings remain in leadership position in the police and military.
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