Int’l rural peoples’ movement slams detention of Aussie human rights activist in PH

August 10, 2018

PRESS RELEASE | 10 August 2018 | Reference: Roy Anunciacion – secretariat@foodsov.org

 

The Peoples’ Coalition for Food Sovereignty (PCFS), a global network of food sovereignty advocates and various grassroots groups of small food producers, criticized the government of the Philippines on Friday for detaining Prof. Gill Boehringer over “unjust grounds and conditions.” The Coalition also stated their support to the Australian human rights activist and called for an end to the “escalating criminalization of international solidarity in the Philippines.”

The country’s Bureau of Immigration (BI) detained the 84-year-old lawyer and academic in the Ninoy Aquino International Airport since his arrival midnight of Aug. 8. He was flagged for allegedly joining a protest three years ago and has been blacklisted since.

“Following [Philippine President Rodrigo] Duterte’s attack to Sister [Patricia Anne] Fox, it is clear that there is a push to penalize solidarity and shun international support to Filipino victims of [extrajudicial killings], human rights violations, displacement and militarization,” said Roy Anunciacion, PCFS global coordinator.

Sister Fox, an Aussie nun and a land reform advocate, was ordered deportation by the same bureau for accusations of joining “political activities” and criticizing the killing of farmers and land defenders in the Philippines. She contested the expulsion order and remains in the country. Previously in April, Duterte’s administration also barred a critical Italian politician, Giacomo Filibeck, from entering the Philippines.

Boehringer’s legal counsel from the National Union of People’s Lawyers is challenging his deportation, although he still remains detained in the airport as of press time. His attending physician, Dr. Geneve Rivera-Reyes of the Health Action for Human Rights, said he was “medically unfit” to travel as he was suffering from deep vein thrombosis and cellulitis on both legs.

Boehringer told Reuters in an interview that the accusation he had joined protests in 2015 is trumped up. “This is part of the government’s campaign to keep foreigners away from what they’re doing… the injustices, the killings, the disappearances,” he said.

Boehringer frequents the Philippines to visit his Filipino wife. He also joins solidarity activities with marginalized peoples in the country every now and then, such as the international fact finding and solidarity mission held this year in indigenous Lumad communities in Mindanao who are being displaced, killed, and harassed in their ancestral land.

For its part, PCFS called on its international networks to “condemn and resist any barrier to genuine people-to-people solidarity and our fight for land, food, and justice.” ###