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Cablegate: Embassy Manila Marks Human Rights Week with Online

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 MANILA 005794

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/PD, R, DRL/IL
DRL FOR DRL/SEA - PSAWCHYN

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PREL PGOV KDEM KPAO RP
SUBJECT: EMBASSY MANILA MARKS HUMAN RIGHTS WEEK WITH ONLINE
CHAT

REF: A. MANILA 5749
B. MANILA 5604
C. MANILA 5521
D. MANILA 5346
E. STATE 202764

1. (U) Summary: On December 12, Mission hosted an online
discussion to mark Human Rights Week, with participation from
the GRP's Commission on Human Rights and a local human rights
NGO. Participants in the chat reviewed U.S. advocacy of
human rights and democracy, and the human rights situation in
the Philippines. The discussion was broad-ranging and
lively. Mission continues to conduct outreach activities for
Human Rights Week; Poloff, for example, will speak to
students on December 14 on U.S. promotion of human rights and
democracy. Mission is also posting on its website President
Bush's December 9 statement commemorating Human Rights Day
and Week. End Summary.

Online Chat
-----------

2. (U) Mission hosted an online chat on human rights on its
Virtual Consulate Davao website on December 12 to mark
International Human Rights Week. In addition to poloff and
conoff, Bernie Larin, Information Officer of the NGO
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (PhilRights), and
Edgardo Diansuy, Director for NGO, Civil Society, and Media
Cooperation at the Commission on Human Rights of the
Philippines (CHR) also participated in the online discussion
and answered questions. (Note: CHR is an independent GRP
body that investigates human rights cases. End Note.) In
addition to Mission's informing a wide array of contacts
about the event beforehand, an article entitled "Reopened US
Embassy sets rights 'chat'" publicized the event in the
"Philippine Daily Inquirer," a major local newspaper, on
December 11.

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3. (U) Full transcripts of the chat session will be
available on the Virtual Consulate website
(http://www.usvirtualconsulatedavao.org.ph) on December 15.
(Note: Transcripts of previous virtual chats are also posted
on the website. End Note.) Some highlights of the online
discussion follow:

-- Larin of PhilRights highlighted the killings of political
activists and journalists during the year, as well as
extrajudicial killings in Davao (see refs A, C-D), and
claimed that there have been no human rights success stories
in these cases. Larin also emphasized that the government's
primary responsibility was to protect its citizens and he
asserted that the GRP was not doing enough in this area.

-- Diansuy noted that the CHR's current priorities were
protecting and promoting the rights of Internally Displaced
Persons and indigenous peoples, and advocating the abolition
of the death penalty in the Philippines. He also emphasized
that civil society and local communities play an important
role in protecting and promoting human rights.

-- Participants in the online discussion asked questions
about proposed anti-terror legislation; capital punishment;
the rights of migrants; the role of the CHR in investigating
human rights complaints; human rights advocacy at the U.N.;
the importance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
and the allegations that the U.S. practices or condones
torture. (Note: In regard to questions in the latter area,
poloff cited the Secretary's recent remarks on this matter.
End Note.)

4. (U) At the conclusion of the discussion, online
participants expressed their appreciation for Mission's
engagement with the public on the matter of human rights.
One participant noted how important such events were in the
"battle for hearts and minds." Larin and Diansuy also
expressed their interest in participating in future online
chats on human rights.

Upcoming Outreach Event
-----------------------

5. (U) On December 14, poloff will speak to a group of
approximately 100-150 students at Silliman University in
Dumaguete, Negros Oriental Province in the central
Philippines, on the topic of "Promoting Human Rights and
Democracy: A Cornerstone of U.S. Foreign Policy." The event
will be part of Silliman University's ongoing lecture series
in commemoration of International Human Rights Week. Poloff
will also visit a USDOL-funded anti-child labor project while
in Negros.

6. (U) Mission will seek further opportunities to highlight
human rights issues, including during the rollout of the
annual Human Rights Report in early 2006.
Jones

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