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International Peoples’ Tribunal on Crimes Against the Filipino People opens

By staff

Chicago delegation to International People's Tribunal

Washington, DC – The International Peoples’ Tribunal on Crimes Against the Filipino People (IPT) opened here July 16. 250 legal experts, witnesses of human rights violations, and social activists from the U.S., the Philippines and elsewhere came together. The mood in the hall was defiant, yet somber, as one after another survivor appeared before jurors to present the murders and torture committed against loved ones.

A dramatic high point came with the testimony of Melissa Roxas, a Filipino activist from the U.S. In 2009, after years of high profile activism in the U.S. and the Philippines in support of the health rights of her people, she was taken at gunpoint by military men in a village near Manila. She endured six days of torture and was then released. She appeared at the IPT to testify, but also she was a symbol of the strength and will of the people to fight for their democratic rights.

The government of Benigno Aquino, with the full backing of President Obama, is guilty of countless deaths and disappearances. The witnesses also made it clear that they believe the military, police and paramilitaries are carrying out these atrocities in service of multi-national corporations, for example mining companies, that want the Philippines to remain poor and its people to be denied rights that would be used to prevent the super exploitation the country has experienced for hundreds of years.

Testimony will continue through July 18 at Catholic University of America.

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