Representatives of advocacy human rights groups went this afternoon to the Philippine Consulate office in Sydney to protest the imminent deportation of Professor Gill Boehringer.
The groups include Action for Peace and Development in the Philippines (APDP), Philippine Australian Union Links (PAUL), Migrante Australia, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), Association to Defend Freedom & Human Rights in Iran – Australia, GABRIELA Australia, Lingap Migrante, Philippines- Australia Women’s Association (PAWA), Pax Christi Australia, Missionaries of the Sacred Heart Justice and Peace Centre (Australia), and Migrante Southwest.
Letters addressed to President Duterte and statements condemning the immigration detention, the continuing threat of deportation and calling on President Duterte to intervene to cancel the blacklist order on Prof Boehringer were presented to the Consulate representative. The Consulate’s response was to outline how they will transmit the letters to the Philippines and say that they understand the groups’ concern.
The Consulate representative also stressed that it is up to the Bureau of Immigration in the Philippines to allow or deny a person entry to the Philippines even if they had been issued visa by the Consulate, and that a visa doesn’t guarantee entry.
The letters, signed by Peter Murphy – Chairperson of ICHRP’s Global Council and Secretary of the Philippines Australia Union Link, pointed out that the Duterte government is “creating a pattern of deporting aged Australians who witness the harsh social and economic situation in your country, even though you have yourself recognised these problems and promised to address them. This does you no credit. This is damaging the relationship between our two countries.”
In its statement, APDP stressed that “If President Duterte and his regime were upholding the dignity and rights of the Filipino people, they would welcome any interest in the human rights situation in the Philippines. Sr Fox and Prof Boehringer are true friends of the Filipino people upholding the dignity and rights of Filipinos, defending the rule of law, and overcoming poverty, injustice and violations of human rights.”
Peter Brock of APDP told the Consulate representative that, ironically, the Bureau’s decision to prevent Prof Boehringer from entering the country has instead brought massive media attention and internationalised further the issues that are close to Prof Boehringer’s heart – the lumads, the extrajudicial killings, the continuing human right violations, the injustices and exploitation of Filipino people and its resources.
The news is all over Australia, the groups said.
Meanwhile, Migrante Australia said in its statement that “the heartless and gutless action to deny Professor Boehringer to be with his wife as no different from President Duterte’s treatment of migrant workers who are forced to be separated their families in order to secure a brighter future for them.
“Blacklisting and deporting Professor Boehringer also mean that he will no longer have the facility to visit and spend quality time with his Philippine-based wife whenever he wants to. Duterte is tearing another family apart! How cruel is that!”
The groups staged a snap action in front of the Consulate whilst bearing placards with the slogans:
· Stop deportation of Prof Gill Boehringer! International solidarity is not a crime!
· Stop persecuting human rights defenders in the Philippines!
· Hands-off Prof Gill Boehringer! Hands-off human rights defenders!
· Cut Australian military aid to Duterte government!
· Cancel blacklist system for international human rights defenders!
· Cancel deportation orders on Professor Gill Boehringer and Sister Patricia Fox!
· President Duterte, how dare you break another family! Let Prof Boehringer stay with family in the Philippines!
· President Duterte: human rights violator! Prof Boehringer and Sis Pat: human rights defenders! Stop human rights violations in the Philippines.
*** Text & photos: Supplied