Manila: The global human rights group Amnesty International expressed apprehensions over government moves to deport foreign activists, saying that such gestures constitute an apparent suppression on dissent.
“Amnesty International is gravely concerned over the recent crackdown by the Philippine government on the exercise by non-nationals of their rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly,” Amnesty International (AI) said in an August 16 statement.
AI was referring to the August 14, 2018 deportation of 84-year-old Australian lawyer Gill Boehringer, Zimbabwean Missionary Tawanda Chandiwana (deported in July), the blacklisting of American Adam Thomas Shaw and Malawian Miracle Osman, who are also members of the United Methodist Church, and the denial of entry in April of Giacomo Filibeck, an Italian who was denied entry into the country for partisan political activity.
Aside from this, another elderly Australian activist, sister Patricia Anne Fox was ordered to leave the country in July, but remains in the country while appealing the deportation order issued against her by the Bureau of Immigration for allegedly engaging in partisan political activity.
AI said that like that Fox, Boehringer “had visited the country on numerous occasions over the past decade.”
“(He) was expelled by the Philippines’ Bureau of Immigration (BI) who cited his alleged participation in ‘domestic protest actions in the past.’”
“Amnesty International urges the Philippine authorities to end its harassment of peaceful activists who enter the country and to respect the rights to freedom of expression and assembly of all peaceful activists, including non-nationals,” AI added.
Boehringer arrived in the Philippines last August 8 via a China Southern Airlines flight from Guangzhou, China. He was forced to stay for six days at the airline’s exclusion room as he was barred entry to the country, because his name appeared on the immigrations blacklist.
Boehringer left for Sydney, via Canton in China.
Earlier, the Philippines-based National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) appealed for humantatian consideration to allow Boehringer to stay in the country. “We pray that Mr. (Gill Hale) Boehringer’s exclusion order be immediately recalled so he can be checked by a doctor and recuperate until he is fit to travel back home,” Edre Olalia, president of the NUPL said in a letter.
Deportations of foreign activists is not a particular trait to the current administration under President Rodrigo Duterte.
In August 2013, 20-year-old Dutch activist Thomas Van Beersum deported after he made a police officer cry during a rally against former president Benigno Aquino’s state of the nation address.
Photos of Beersum yelling at a weeping riot police officer during the protest outside the Congress building in Quezon City made the rounds of social media.