Stop governmental harassment of education trade unionists

Stop governmental harassment of education trade unionists

In its resolution adopted at its 52th meeting, the Education Internationals Executive Board condemns the profiling and red-tagging/terrorist-tagging of, and death threats against Alliance of Concerned Teachers/Philippines leaders.

 

Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) leader and Education International (EI) Executive Board member for Asia-Pacific Raymond D. Basilio gave a moving speech about the constant harassment and threats faced by ACT members and leaders, as well as his own experience. This was at the 52th EI Executive Board meeting held in Brussels, Belgium, on 2-4 April.

Besides receiving death threats on his personal mobile phone, one call coming during an ACT press conference on 11 January 2019, Basilio explained that “one day, one man came to me and told me: ‘you are next’”.

He went on to say: “I cannot sleep in my own bed anymore, I cannot see my family nor go to the union office where I am probably awaited by public forces. I have to change my email and contacts every two weeks at the latest.”

Basilio pointed out that “I could to go to another country, but I will not abandon my members; I want to be with them. That’s where I belong.”

“Public support and international pressure, such as that of Education International, is extremely important for us. I’ll bring back with me your heartfelt support to my fellow educators and Filipinos,” he concluded.

Serious concerns about the Philippine National Police’s coordinated. yet illegal and undemocratic profiling of ACT members

In a resolution adopted condemning the profiling and red-tagging/terrorist-tagging of, and death threats against ACT/Philippines leaders, the EI Executive Board firmly “reaffirms EI’s commitment to uphold teachers’ rights to self-organisation and to free expression as fundamental rights essential to achieving the goal of quality education and as strong foundations of democratic discourse, and consequently urge governments to be held accountable for their responsibility to uphold and protect such rights”.

Noting “with great concern the worrying developments that have been documented by EI affiliates in the Philippines, with regard to the state security forces’ profiling and red-tagging/terrorist-tagging of, and death threats against ACT-Philippines leaders,” it “expresses serious concerns about the Philippine National Police’s nationally coordinated yet illegal and undemocratic profiling of ACT members in Manila, Malabon, Las Pinas, Zambales, Bulacan, Rizal, Mindoro, Sorsogon, Agusan Del Sur, implemented thru various unnumbered memoranda dated December 26, 2018; December 27, 2018; January 3, 2019; January 7, 2019; and January 14, 2019, which tramples upon teachers’ rights to self-organisation and to free expression and sows terror among some teachers who are only striving for their voices to be heard in a supposedly democratic country”.

The EI top leaders also condemned “documented death threats – after the instances of profiling –  against ACT leaders such as ACT Sec. Gen. Raymond Basilio,” and deplore that “Philippine National Police and Armed Forces of the Philippines officials also ceaselessly demonise ACT and its affiliate organisations as communist or communist front organisation, with a recent official news release even bragging that the Philippine government has included ACT in its list of progressive people’s organisations and foundations which government officials erroneously label as communist-front organisations.”

They observe that “these documented cases of profiling, death threats, and red-tagging of ACT members and leaders pose formidable obstacles to teachers’ rights to self-organisation, specifically in establishing and expanding their unions, and all these occur within the context of past and present signs of tyrannical rule in the Philippines such as Tokhang killings, massacre of farmers, violent dispersals of workers’ strikes, Martial Law extension in Mindanao, intensified military operation in Negros, Samar, and Bicol, closure of military encampment in Lumad (indigenous people) schools in Mindanao, all of which are aimed at silencing dissent and imposing a climate of impunity”.

The resolution calls on “all EI affiliates in all parts of the world, to help collect, publish and disseminate data and evidence on these cases of profiling, harassment, red/terror tagging, and death threats against ACT-Philippines leaders and members,” and “expresses firm resolve to bring these cases to the attention of international human and labour rights organisations, and in more formal United Nations fora”.

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