June 15 would mark the day when solidarity flowed like sun’s rays through dark clouds of rain.
Today we held the forum on the Permanent People’s Tribunal’s verdict on the US-Arroyo government.
Thanks to the Kowloon Union Church for providing us the space tonight. Thanks to the Bethune House Women Migrant Workers’ Refuge for providing the food.
The place was just teeming with people, old and new faces. There were journalists, human rights workers, church people, students, social workers, domestic helpers, peace advocates. They sat and had dinner with us, conversed about the issue with us, listened intently to the speakers and asked questions.
To name a few of our guests, there were our friends from the Asian Human Rights Commission and HK Christian Institute, Kit from the HK Human Rights Monitor, Pastor Dan and Malou Borlado, Milabel of Amnesty International HK, Atty. Daisy Mandap and Leo Deocadiz of The Sun, Fr. Jim Mulroney and colleagues from the ACPP, Thomas of the Chinese University Student Press, Jimmy from the HK AIDS Foundation.
At 7:30 p.m., Bruce Van Vhooris of the Asian Human Rights Commission started the program with welcoming the guests. He introduced the HKCAHRPP to them as well as the objective of the forum and briefly about the PPT.
The documentary film “Sa Ngalan ng Tubo” (In the Name of Profit) was shown right after. For both those who’ve seen it before and the first-timers, it was another awakening moment as the reality of poverty, the farmers’ struggle and the violent response of the government and the landowners in the Philippines was shown right before their very eyes.
Silence gripped the whole audience as sounds of gunfire were heard from the documentary. Gunfire that killed 13 of the protesting farmers.
Jackie Hung from the Justice and Peace Commission of the Hong Kong Catholic Diocese shared about her experience in the PPT and further discussed about the whole running of the tribunal, its indictments and results. Ramon Bultron of the Asia Pacific Mission for Migrants detailed the current developments in the human rights campaign as well as the current political situation in the country.
Throughout the whole open forum, the audience asked questions: What mechanisms of the United Nations have been exhausted in this campaign? What is being done in the Philippines to stop these killings? What is the response of the Catholic Church in the Philippines to the spate of human rights violations? What else can the HKCAHRPP and other people do for this campaign? What is the solution to this problem?
Bruce, Jackie and Ramon helped in answering all of them.
Jun Tellez from the Mission for Migrant Workers shared about similar PPT’s in Australia and Japan being initiated by some parliamentarians supportive of the cause. Bruce highlighted the need to pressure governments to discontinue their financial support to the Philippine government. Ramon raised the continuous struggles of the Filipino people against the repressive government despite the attacks.
Jackie stated her and other people’s involvement in this cause is not geared only to finding the solution but finding meaning in expressing solidarity and giving support to the Filipino people.
Towards the end, Rey Asis of the Asian Students Association read the message of solidarity from Hustisya! (organization of the families of the victims of extra-judicial killings), Desaparecidos (families of the victims of enforced disappearances) and Selda (political prisoners and their families). It was a heart-warming moment as these groups expressed their gratitude to the continuous efforts of friends outside the country in supporting the cause as well as their commitment to continue fighting for it.
Concluding the program, Bruce encouraged the people to join the HKCAHRPP and support the ongoing campaign. It is good to spread the word and let the people know, he said, so as the people and the campaign would generate more support.
Truly, it was a very good night. Amidst the continuous violations of rights back home, people here in Hong Kong generously gave their solidarity further strengthening our hearts and our resolve to go on.
From the HKCAHRPP convenors, our heartfelt thanks to everyone who attended the forum. We will go on.
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