Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


Clark Should Talk To Arroyo About Human Rights

15 March 2006

Helen Clark Needs To Have Woman To Woman Chat With Philippine President About Human Rights & Democracy

Helen Clark is currently in the Philippines making high-minded speeches about eradicating the causes of terrorism. She should be addressing her remarks to her host, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The Philippines under her leadership exhibits all the attributes of State terrorism - death squads whose crimes are never investigated, let alone punished; military and police who abuse human rights with impunity; systematic political murders, disappearances, torture and terrorisation of whole civilian populations.

In the past few weeks, Gloria has upped the ante to an absurd new level by declaring a State of Emergency (claiming that it was necessary to thwart a ludicrously improbable "Communist/military coup plot") and arresting a number of prominent political figures. Strangely enough, most of those targeted were from the Left, and most ominously she attempted to have arrested all six Congresspeople representing Left parties. Five made it to the sanctuary of Congress, where they are currently living under the protection of the Speaker (but under threat of arrest if they venture outside). The sixth, Representative Crispin Beltran, was not so lucky, being one of the first people arrested and is being held in maximum security.

Beltran, a veteran trade union leader now in his 70s, is well known to New Zealanders. The Philippines Solidarity Network of Aotearoa (PSNA) toured him through this country in 1999. Having endured arrest without charge and undergone torture under the Marcos dictatorship and not being in good health to start with, his wellbeing is in real and imminent jeopardy.

The Philippine government has pulled out all the stops, holding Beltran under 20 year old charges dating back to that Marcos dictatorship (he has long since been cleared of them) and producing that old favourite of dictatorships everywhere - a hooded witness to point the finger at Beltran and other Left leaders to try to frame them up on charges of "conspiracy and rebellion". The whole thing would be funny if it wasn't so serious for those on the receiving end.

All this is going on while Helen Clark is being wined and dined there. The same Helen Clark who won plaudits from Filipinos in the 1980s when she supported their struggle to get rid of Marcos and become a democracy. She has been resoundingly silent as the current Philippine government and military shown every sign of ditching whatever tenuous democracy there is and reverting to dictatorship.

By sheer coincidence, Clark is an in excellent position to personally urge Macapagal-Arroyo to reverse her disastrous slide towards dictatorship, to respect human rights and democracy, and to end this crisis of her own making.

A number of New Zealanders, ranging from academics to church groups, unions and the Green Party have joined Philippines Solidarity in calling upon to use her visit to the Philippines this week to stand up for the beleaguered Philippine people and make personally clear to their President that her dictatorial behaviour is unacceptable.

We hope that she does but the signs are not encouraging. For example, news reports from the Philippines indicate that New Zealand is offering scholarships to members of the Philippine National Police, who (along with the military) are the worst human rights abusers and monumentally corrupt. They are part of the problem, not the solution to the human rights crisis in the Philippines.

And Clark has been quoted as saying that New Zealand wants to encourage more Filipino students to come to NZ. But the deal being signed while she is there is with one of most prestigious private universities, a haven of the children of the rich. They're the last ones that need New Zealand's help. If New Zealand wants to help, then open the doors of our education system to the kids of the vast numbers of the poor in the Philippines. Not to policemen and the rich.


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Veronika Meduna: The Kaikoura Rebuild

A Scoop Foundation Investigation

Friday will be a big day for people north of Kaikōura – and for hundreds of construction workers who are racing to reopen State Highway 1 in time for the holiday season.

By the afternoon, the South Island’s main transport corridor will be open to traffic again, more than a year after a magnitude 7.8 earthquake mangled bridges and tunnels, twisted rail tracks and buried sections of the road under massive landslides. More>>


BPS HYEFU WYSIWYG: Labour's Budget Plans, Families Package

“Today we are announcing the full details of the Government’s Families Package. This is paid for by rejecting National’s tax cuts and instead targeting spending at those who need it most. It will lift 88,000 children out of poverty by 2021." More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Defence Spending, Alabama, And Dolly Parton

The spending lavished on Defence projects to meet the risks that could maybe, possibly, theoretically face New Zealand in future is breath-taking, given how successive governments have been reluctant to spend even a fraction of those amounts on the nation’s actual social needs. More>>


Members' Bills: End Of Life Choice Bill Passes First Reading

The End of Life Choice Bill in the name of David Seymour has been sent to a select committee for consideration by 76 votes to 44. It is the third time Parliament has voted on the issue in recent decades and the first time such a Bill has made it over the first hurdle. More>>


State Sector: MPI Survives Defrag Of Portfolios

The Ministry for Primary Industries will not be split under the new government, but will instead serve as an overarching body for four portfolio-based entities focused on fisheries, forestry, biosecurity and food safety. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Vulnerable Kids, RNZ Funding, And Poppy

The decision to remove the word ‘vulnerable’ from the Ministry for Vulnerable Children could well mark a whole shift in approach to the care of children in need... More>>





Featured InfoPages