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Solidarity with Palestine and Palestinian Prisoners!

3 December 2023

The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP Canada) stands in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their long struggle for national liberation and just peace.

The unfolding crisis in Gaza demands urgent global action. The Israeli siege, which a former Chief Prosecutor of the ICC called “a form of genocide”, has cut off the people of Gaza from basic necessities while aerial bombardments have claimed the lives of at least 15,000 people, including over 6,000 children. Collective punishment, threat of starvation, and targeted bombings of civilian residences, hospitals, schools, and refugee camps all constitute egregious violations of international humanitarian law (IHL), especially in light of testimonies from Israeli officers suggesting that the criteria for harming civilians have been relaxed. The assaults on hospitals and health workers have nearly collapsed Gaza’s healthcare system, resulting in diminished capacity to treat wounded civilians and preventable deaths of patients and premature babies in intensive care units.

ICHRP Canada particularly condemns the killings of at least 61 journalists in the conflict, many of whom were assassinated with their families by Israeli airstrikes on their homes. This is a blatant war against press freedom and a clear attempt to silence voices who document the reality of the occupation and war.

The violations of international humanitarian law in Gaza, committed with full US political and military support, are not so different from those in the Philippines committed under the guise of US-backed counterinsurgency. Philippine state forces have allegedly abducted and murdered peace consultants of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), extrajudicially killed civilian farmers, and conducted Gaza-like indiscriminate bombings of rural villages, forcibly displacing over 13,000 civilians. According to the human rights network Karapatan, rural villages are often targeted because the military suspects them of “supporting the NPA”. Under the Duterte administration, indigenous Lumad schools also faced attacks and bomb threats under the accusation that they were “training grounds for the NPA”

On this International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners, we also stand in solidarity with over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners who are detained in Israeli jails, including hundreds of minors and over 2,000 administrative detainees who are held on “secret evidence” for prolonged periods without trial. Under apartheid rule, Palestinians in occupied territories are tried in military courts without basic due process. Those arrested are often accused of “terrorist activities”, and report grueling conditions, beatings and torture by Israeli forces.

Filipino workers, peasants, students, journalists and human rights defenders are no strangers to terror-tagging and illegal arrests. Activists are routinely red-tagged and accused of being members of “communist terrorist groups”, which has led to illegal arrests on trumped-up charges, often based on planted evidence of firearms or explosives. As of June 2023, there are over 778 political prisoners in Filipino jails, of which 157 are women, 77 are elderly and 95 are ill.

ICHRP Canada affirms the just aspirations of the Palestinian and Filipino people for self-determination, genuine freedom and just and lasting peace. We recognize that the decades of armed conflict are deeply rooted in social and material realities, from landlessness, crushing poverty and the domination by foreign interests in the Philippines to the continued ethnic cleansing and brutal military occupation of Palestine. We welcome the recent signing of the Oslo Joint Communique by the Philippine government (GRP) and the NDFP, signaling their joint desire to resume the peace negotiations. In this spirit, we call on the world to exercise their obligation as states to end the genocide in Gaza and direct all their efforts towards supporting a just and lasting peace for the Palestinian people.

ICHRP Canada calls on the Canadian government, the international community and all peace-loving peoples to:

  • Call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza;
  • Demand the release of all political prisoners and safe return of hostages;
  • Call for an end of the blockade in Gaza and restoration of basic necessities of life;
  • End Canada’s support for the Israeli and Philippine military forces, who are responsible for the unfolding genocide in Gaza and human rights abuses in Palestine and the Philippines, respectively;
  • Support all efforts towards building just and lasting peace in Palestine and the Philippines.