March 8 Message from Angie Ipong, political prisoner recently released

Message of Angie Ipong, former political prisoner, on the occasion of the International Women’s Day 2011

Angie Ipong, a peace advocate who devoted her life to the cause of peace and human rights, was arrested in Aloran, Misamis Occidental on March 8, 2005 by armed men who identified themselves as members of the CIDG. Upon her unjustified arrest, Angie was disappeared for 14 days and further subjected to violation of the rights of an arrested person, among them unjustified detention, sexual abuse and torture. She was later incarcerated at the Pagadian City Jail and slapped with fabricated cases of arson and murder. In February 17, 2011, upon dismissal of the cases filed against her, 66-year old Angie was finally released from prison.

Below is Angie's letter written in English.

At last I am free! After 6 years of prison life, I cherish with great joy the freedom won, dismissed of all the charges.

Today, International Women's Day, the day I was abducted brings back the memory of that terrible ordeal I passed through in the hands of my captors. Illegally detained, tortured, sexually molested and landed in jail to stay for 6 years.

Now, I could not imagine how I have managed to cope up with all the fears, anguish, boredom, loneliness, and all the challenges I went through in these 6 years. I know my captors wanted me to rot in jail, get cowed and bow down but I always believe that to give ourselves for service to our people, to do what is good, what is right and just, in the end, the truth will triumph. Imprisonment becomes an integral consequence of our commitment.

Indeed in my 6 years of prison life I never felt I wasted my stay. The guiding voice I clung to which gave me the strength could be summed up in these few quotes:

"Bloom where you are planted"

"Prison walls, iron bars and barbed wires can only imprison the body but not our mind, our thoughts and what we stand for.

With these I tried to learn many things in jail and put them into practice. Whether it was creating and tending the organic vegetable garden, or sewing, making indigenous cards, cooking, sharing and bonding with inmates, making culture and arts flourish, pushing for reforms inside the jail. All these kept me busy and productive.

Of course my 6 years in jail would have been really unbearable without the help of our fellow political detainees, fellow inmates, good and understanding jail authorities and guards.

The untiring efforts of my brother and sisters, my daughter, my closest kins, my lawyers, human and women's rights advocates here and abroad have helped so much in giving us comfort through visits, hastening resolution of our cases, helping us with our needs.

All these buoyed up my spirit, gave me the strength and courage and kept me whole and intact. Thank you so much.

I wish that the ordeal I suffered in the hands of my captors would never happen again. It is demeaning to one's womanhood.

I know there are still so many political prisoners languishing in jail especially women political detainees. I hope they too would soon be freed. There is no sense and no humanity in keeping them rot in jail when their productive and reproductive capacities could be tapped and maximized and be of great service to our people as moulders of our youth and society.###



CONFERENCE – Saturday, March 5 UQAM, Pavillon Hubert-Aquin, room A-2885, 400 Ste Catherine east (corner St-Denis), (métro Berri-UQAM)
Simultaneous Interpretation; childcare available : Voluntary contribution $5 (no one turned away)

International Women's Day Demonstration  - Tuesday, March 8,  Cabot Square (Atwater metro), starts 6:00pm.

The 8th March Committee of Women of Diverse Origins [WDO] celebrates International Women’s Day with the theme “The Slaves of the Slaves Rise Up!” an historic slogan adopted by women struggling for change and equality in different parts of the world at various historic junctures. It is a call from those brave women, oppressed in their own societies, who have been at the heart of their people’s struggles against regimes and tyrants who themselves were servants to imperialist masters.

As feminists, dedicated to a world of equality in all spheres, we oppose capitalism, imperialism and patriarchy in all its manifestations, within the home and outside the home, in political, economic and religious spheres .  The WDO has contributed to a new militancy and awareness in the women’s movement locally, across the country and even beyond. We have much to celebrate following the successful Montreal International Women’s Conference which we hosted in August, 2010  and in the formation at that time of a militant, anti-imperialist, anti-patriarchal and anti-racist International Women’s Alliance.

This year we are inspired by the historic revolts sweeping North Africa and the Middle East where women once again are on the frontlines, the backbone of resistance. After decades, people again around the world are throwing off the shackles of fear and oppression and rising up against authoritarian rulers and oppressive regimes that themselves are controlled by imperialist and neo-liberal powers. Their living situations with rising prices and increasing lack of human dignity have reached boiling point and are spilling over. Political and economic exploitative systems are being revealed in all their starkness.

There will be a conference on Saturday 5th March from 10am till 5pm with speakers from Tunisia, Iran, Haiti and the Philippines and presentations on Québec and Canada – welfare rights, violence against women, indigenous women, cutbacks affecting women and marginalized communities.

There will be discussion, debate and celebration, especially as this is also a year of landmark anniversaries – groups that are part of the 8th March WDO -- PINAY, the Filipino women’s group celebrating 20 years, the South Asian Women’s Community Centre, celebrating 30 years, the Mouvement contre le viol et l’inceste with 35 years and the WDO itself celebrating its first decade.

And on Tuesday 8th March – International Women’s Day demo – Ste-Catherine Street, starting at Cabot Square (Atwater) at 6 pm.

All are invited to both events.  Celebrating strength, advancing struggles!   Info: email:wdofdo@gmail.com

LES ESCLAVES DES ESCLAVES SE LÈVENT! -- la journée internationale des femmes à Montréal

CONFÉRENCE – Samedi 5 mars  10h à 17h à l’UQAM, Pavillon Hubert-Aquin, salle A-2885, 400 rue Ste Catherine Est (coin St-Denis), (métro Berri-UQAM)  - Interprétation fournie; garderie disponible : contribution volontaire $5 (personne ne sera refusée)
MARCHE de la Journée des femmes  - Mardi 8 mars, Carré Cabot (métro Atwater), départ 18 h
Le Comité du 8 mars des Femmes de diverses origines (FDO) célèbre la Journée internationale des Femmes, sous le thème "Les esclaves des esclaves se lèvent!", un slogan historique adopté par les femmes en lutte pour le changement et l’égalité dans différentes parties du monde à divers tournants historiques.  C’est l’appel de femmes courageuses, opprimées par leurs propres sociétés et qui sont au cœur des luttes populaires contre des régimes et des tyrans qui sont eux-mêmes les esclaves des puissances impérialistes.

En tant que féministes qui œuvrent pour un monde d’égalité dans tous les domaines, nous combattons le capitalisme, l’impérialisme et le patriarcat sous toutes ses formes, à l’intérieur et à l’extérieur du foyer, dans les sphères politique, économique et religieuse.  Le FDO a contribué à l’émergence d’un militantisme nouveau et à une prise de conscience dans le mouvement féministe sur la scène locale, nationale et au-delà.  Nous avons de grandes réussites à célébrer, telle que le succès de la conférence internationale de Montréal que nous avons accueillie en août 2010 et la formation subséquente d’une Alliance internationale des femmes, militante, anti-impérialiste, anti-patriarcale et antiraciste.

Cette année, nous sommes inspirées par les révoltes historiques qui balayent l’Afrique du Nord et le Moyen-Orient où encore une fois les femmes sont sur les lignes de front et forment l’ossature de la résistance.  Après des décennies, les peuples du monde secouent à nouveau les chaînes de la peur et de l’oppression pour se soulever contre des dirigeants autoritaires et des régimes oppresseurs qui sont eux-mêmes contrôlés par les puissances impérialistes et néolibérales.  Des conditions de vie marquées par la hausse des prix et la négation croissante de la dignité humaine ont conduit à cet état d’ébullition et on assiste maintenant aux débordements.  Les systèmes politiques et économiques exploiteurs sont mis à jour dans toute leur brutalité.

Il y aura une conférence le samedi 5 mars, de 10 heures à 17 heures, avec des conférencières de Tunisie, d’Iran, d’Haïti et des Philippines ainsi que des exposés sur la situation au Québec et au Canada dans les domaines suivants – les droits sociaux, la violence contre les femmes, les femmes autochtones, les coupures qui affectent les femmes et les communautés marginalisées.

Il y aura des discussions, des débats et des célébrations car c’est aussi une année d’anniversaires marquants pour les groupes qui forment le Comité du 8 mars FDO – PINAY, l’organisation des femmes philippines du Québec fête ses 20 ans; le Centre communautaire des femmes sud-asiatiques fête ses 30ans; le Mouvement contre le viol et l’inceste fête ses 35 ans et le FDO lui-même fête sa première décennie.

Et mardi le 8 mars - la manif de la Journée internationale des femmes partira à 18 heures du Carré Cabot (Atwater), rue Ste Catherine Ouest à 18 heures.

Vous êtes toutes et tous invitées aux deux événements. Célébrer nos forces et faire avancer nos luttes
Info : courriel : wdofdo@gmail.com