Defend José Maria Sison!

Imperialist governments around the world are using the pretext of “fighting terrorism” to increase repression of leftist and communist organizations. From Colombia to the Philippines, liberation movements are labeled as terrorists. We reprint here an appeal by Filipino activists, “Remove Prof. José Maria Sison from the EU’s List of ‘Terrorists’.” It is signed by the Solidarity Committee in Support of Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines USA, the International League of People’s Struggle, and BAYAN International-USA

José Maria Sison

On October 28, 2002, the Council of the European Union added Jose Maria Sison and the New People’s Army (NPA) of the Philippines to its list of “terrorist” persons, groups and entities. This decision was taken by written procedure, without discussion or due process, without motivation whatsoever. Measures to be taken against the organizations and individuals on the list include “the freezing of funds and other financial assets or economic resources, as well as police and judicial cooperation.”

With this decision, the European Union toes the line of the United States. On August 9, 2002, the U.S. State Department listed the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and the New People’s Army as “foreign terrorist organizations,” asking other governments to do the same. On August 12, 2002, the U.S. Treasury Department listed Jose Maria Sison as a “terrorist” whose assets must be frozen.

Whenever the criminalization and the repression of national liberation movements and other revolutionary organizations and individuals are concerned, the European Union applies exactly the same unjust and undemocratic standards and methods as the United States. Does the EU uncritically follow U.S. President Bush in his “global war on terror”? Does the EU believe that states, regimes, movements and individuals that reject and resist the new colonialism of corporate control and military might are “rogue states”’ and “terrorists”?

The U.S. is targeting Prof. Jose Maria Sison because he has been a leading figure of the Philippine national democratic revolution for almost forty years. He was one of the pioneers who revived the anti-imperialist movement in the Philippines in the early 1960s. He reestablished the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). For nine years, he was dictator Marcos’ most prominent political prisoner.

Today, Prof. Jose Maria Sison is living in the Netherlands as a political refugee under the protection of the Refugee Convention and the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. He is the chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP, the revolutionary alliance to which the CPP and NPA belong) in the peace negotiations with the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP). These negotiations have been facilitated by the Norwegian, Dutch and Belgian governments, and the European Parliament has endorsed them through several resolutions.

The CPP, the NPA and the NDFP have been leading an exemplary people’s struggle for national liberation and democracy, against foreign domination, exploitation and oppression. We reject the notion that the struggle for national liberation, including armed struggle, is equated to terrorism. We are concerned that legitimate political organizations and individuals, including legitimate asylum seekers and recognized political refugees, may become the target of unjustified repressive measures in the guise of fighting terrorism.

The blacklisting of Prof. Sison and various revolutionary movements by the European Union does not bode well for democracy in Europe. Groups and individuals who express and concretize their solidarity with them may be the next victims. The democratic rights of freedom of expression and of association are at stake. The human value of solidarity is under threat.

We demand from the Government of the United States, the Philippines and the European Union and its member states:

  •  the removal of Prof. Jose Maria Sison and the New People’s Army from the list of the Council Common Position 2002/847/CFSP and Council Decision 2002/848/EC;

  •  full respect for the protection of Jose Maria Sison as a refugee under the relevant international conventions;

  •  encouragement to the resumption of the GRP-NDFP peace negotiations in accordance with the Hague Joint Declaration of 1992 as the framework agreement, and respect for the 1997 and 1999 resolutions of the European Parliament supporting the aforesaid peace negotiations;

  •  the refusal of any possible demand for his extradition.

    We demand that the Government of the United States, the Philippines and European Union and its member states refrain from any legislation or action that may hinder the legitimate political activities of organizations and individuals.

    We support the procedure introduced by Prof. Sison on February 7, 2003, with the help of an international team of human rights lawyers, before the Court of the European Community in Luxembourg, against his inclusion in the EU’s list of “terrorists.”

    We vow to extend Prof. Sison financial support for his basic necessities and for his legal defense, even if this runs counter to the decision of the Council of the European Union or to similar decisions in our respective countries of residence. To us, the values of justice and solidarity are more important.
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