CAP-CPC calls for immediate release of Canadian student in Philippines

September 13, 2013

H.E. Benigno C. Aquino III
President of the Republic
Malacañang Palace
JP Laurel St., San Miguel
Manila Philippines

Re: Immediate release of Kim Chatillon-Meunier

Dear President Aquino:

On behalf of the Centre for Philippine Concerns (Centre d’appui aux Philippines) in Montreal, Canada, we call on the Philippine Government to immediately release Kim Chatillon-Meunier, a 24-year old student from Montreal who is currently being detained by Bureau of Immigration (BI) officials at the BI detention center in Camp Bagong Diwa in Bicutan, Taguig, Philippines.

According to immigration officials, Kim had been placed on a "watchlist" and is being held for allegedly participating in the State of the Nation Address (SONA) rally in July 2013. She was arrested at the airport as she was about to leave the country for Hong Kong on September 13, 2013 and was detained upon the order of BI Commissioner Siegfred Mison.

Kim Chatillon-Meunier, 24
Kim was in the Philippines as an intern from the international studies program of the University of Montreal, a project funded by the Canadian government. Her focus area of research and documentation has been the reproductive health conditions of women in poor communities in Tondo, Manila. Last July, Kim was a delegate to the International Conference on Human Rights in the Philippines and joined the international solidarity and humanitarian mission in Quezon Province prior to the conference.

Like many other Quebec students in the past, Kim has chosen to do her internship in the Philippines to learn from and share in the lives of the Filipino people, especially the poor and powerless. Is Kim’s arrest meant to instill fear and deter other internationalists from giving their support to the Filipino people’s struggle for basic rights and democratic freedoms? It certainly appears to be outright political harassment and a violation of the basic right to free expression. This detention is also reminiscent of the treatment of Dutch citizen Thomas van Beersum on his recent departure from the Philippines.

We are deeply concerned by these actions of the BI and the Philippine government and reiterate our call for Kim’s immediate release and her safe return home to Canada. We likewise request that such blacklists/watchlists be withdrawn or scrapped by the BI, as these are clearly tools for harassment and suppression of fundamental rights of those working to defend the human rights and basic dignity of the Filipino people.

We call on the Canadian government and its officials to apply the necessary diplomatic pressure on your government to ensure the immediate release of Kim Chatillon-Meunier and to deliver in the name of the Canadian people a strong statement of condemnation for this abuse and mistreatment of a Canadian citizen by Philippine officials.



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