Bayan Canada National Organizing Committee+++++
Victoria, BC, 04 August 2008 – A public commemoration service for a murdered human rights advocate was held last August 2 at the Selkirk Montessori School. Two years ago this week, Alice Claver, a human rights worker, was killed in an ambush by suspected government agents in the Philippines. Her husband, Dr. Constancio Claver, and their three daughters survived, and have fled to Canada. They have been waiting in Victoria for more than a year for the Immigration and Refugee Board to hear their case for a refugee claim.
The commemoration service was followed by a Forum on Human Rights and the Philippine Situation, sponsored by the Victoria Philippine Solidarity Group and the Stop the Killings in the Philippines Network. “As of today, we still have no justice for Alice. No effective police investigations have happened, and those who planned and perpetrated her death are still at large.” Dr. Claver explained.
The video presentation entitled “The Philippines: Waging War on the People” was publicly shown for the first time in Victoria. The video indicates how on that fateful day on July 31, 2006, two riflemen hosed down the Claver family car containing the couple and one of their daughters. Alice did not survive her seven gunshot wounds. Dr. Claver and his daughter, though much wounded, survived. Since then, Dr. Claver has linked up with human rights groups in an international campaign called the Stop the Killings Campaign.
Alice Claver was one of 903 Filipinos victims of extra-judicial killings since 2001. Most of the victims were members and leaders of legitimate progressive social organizations working for social changes in the Philippines. Local and international bodies and investigators, notably from the United Nations, have indicated the direct involvement of the Philippine military in these killings. In his talk, Dr. Claver said, “. . . the present Philippine rule is a de facto martial rule, a far cry from the so-called ‘vibrant democracy’ that even the present Canadian government seems to stubbornly think and adhere to.” The killings have been linked to the Philippine Government counter-insurgency program – a program strongly and directly supported by the United States War on Terror.
The Stop the Killings in the Philippines Campaign has spread into numerous countries around the world. This culminated in a process involving the filing of charges against Presidents Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and George W. Bush at the Permanent Peoples Tribunal. This international opinions court found both Arroyo and Bush guilty of crimes against humanity. “International solidarity of peoples across the world has made this possible.” Claver said. But he added, “The number of killings may have noticeably decreased in the last 6 months due to the local and international pressure, but (the killings) definitely have not stopped. . . . Getting Arroyo and Bush out of the scene may not be the total answer, but may be a start for better things to come.”
He appeals to Canadians to continue to lobby their government to review Canada’s trade relations with, and military aid to the Philippines. He urged that Canada should find “means of making truly sure that Canadian tax payer’s money is not being used to make the Armed Forces of the Philippines a more efficient killing machine”. ###
Victoria Philippine Solidarity Group