Ericson Acosta: writing…and singing, for his freedom

The following speech was part of an event attended by 70 people to mark International Human Rights Day on Saturday, December 10, in Montréal, Québec. Participants shared stories of the struggle of political prisoners from Palestine, Egypt, Palestine, the U.S., Philippines and beyond. Entitled Freedom for All Political Prisoners! Stop Criminalization of Dissent! the presentations and candlelight vigil that followed were organized and endorsed by the Centre for Philippine Concerns, PINAY, Women of Diverse Origins Network, Immigrant Workers Center, Certain Days Political Prisoners Calendar, Tadamon, and PASC.
by Joyce Valbuena
member of the Centre d’appui aux Philippines / Centre for Philippine Concerns

In the Philippines, we have no political prisoners… that is according to a statement by the Presidential spokesperson in my country. Because what the government is doing is criminalizing political actions.

But as far as human rights activists are concerned, there are about 360 political prisoners in the Philippines, 77 of whom, were arrested and detained under the administration of President Noynoy Aquino. Human rights violations have continued unabated. Between July 2010 and October 2011 there have already been 64 extrajudicial killings and 9 enforced disappearances. Human rights groups have monitored thousands and thousands of victims of demolitions, forced evacuations, threats, harassment, intimidation and physical assaults, and other military abuses in the communities since Aquino was elected as President 18 months ago.
Interesting to say, President Aquino’s famous father, Ninoy, was martyred during the Marcos dictatorship as an exiled political prisoner in the 1970s and 80s.

Today I am going to share the story of a political prisoner who happened to be my schoolmate in the University of the Philippines.

His name is Ericson Acosta, an artist, journalist and cultural worker illegally arrested by members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on February 13, 2011 in Samar province which is in the South of the Philippines. He faces trumped-up charges of illegal possession of explosives and is currently detained at the Calbayog City sub-provincial jail.

He was interrogated for at least eight hours non-stop. Up to this day, he is being detained without any formal charges issued by the court.

Ericson's counsel filed a Petition for Review of his case before the Philippine government's Department of Justice last September 1. It stated several irregularities and human rights violations in Ericson's arrest and detention including arrest without warrant. He was not informed of the reason for his arrest at the time of his arrest. He was denied the right to counsel and make phone call or contact his family or his lawyer. He was subjected to prolonged interrogation for 44 hours. He was physically and psychologically tortured during tactical interrogation. He was deprived of sleep, threatened, intimidated, coerced and forced to admit membership in the New People's Army (the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines). The grenade that was "confiscated" from him was planted. He was detained in a military camp, which is not of civilian jurisdiction.


Saturday Dec. 10: Liberté pour prisonniers politiques / Free all Political prisoners - Montréal

(voir français en dessous)
Freedom for All Political Prisoners!
Stop Criminalization of Dissent!
Marking International Human Rights Day Saturday December 10, 2011
On Saturday, December 10, join us to share stories of struggle of political prisoners
from Palestine to the Philippines and beyond.
Also : Enjoy a new political satire skit from Pinay and friends
PNoyed : A Filipino Christmas Carol
Where:  St James United Church, 463 St Catherine West
                (metro McGill) entrance 1440 St-Alexandre St.
When:    1pm –3 :30pm for panel and skit
                3 :30pm – 4 :30pm vigil and march ending at the U.S. consulate
Speakers on the Philippines, Egypt, Palestine, Latin America, and the United States.
Whisper translation will be provided.

Coffee will be served.
Organized/Endorsed: by Centre for Philippine Concerns, Pinay, Women of Diverse Origins Network,
Immigrant Workers Centre, Certain Days Political Prisoners Calendar, Tadamon, PASC
Liberté pour les prisonnier-ières politiques!
Fin à la criminalisation de la contestation!
Pour marquer la Journée internationale des Droits humains
Samedi, le 10 décembre, 2011.
Samedi le 10 décembre, venez nous joindre pour partager des histoires de résistance
des prisonnierEs politiques, de Palestine aux Philippines et ailleurs.
Aussi, le nouveau sketch satirique :
PNoyed : A Filipino Christmas Carol par le group Pinay et ses ami-e-s
Où:         St James United Church, 463 Ste-Catherine Ouest
                (métro McGill)entrée 1440 St-Alexandre
Quand: 1pm – 3h30pm panel et sketch;
                3h30pm – 4h30pm vigile et marche au Consulat américain

Les panélistes parleront des Philippines, d'Égypte, de Palestine, d'Amérique Latine et des États-Unis.
Traduction chuchotée sera disponible.
Café sera servi.

Organisé/Appuyé par le Centre d’appui aux Philippines, Pinay, Réseau des Femmes de Diverses Origines, Centre des Travailleurs-euses ImmigrantEs, Calendrier des Prisonniers Politiques Certain Days, Tadamon, PASC