Nobel laureate Tutu backs people’s tribunal vs Arroyo

Nobel laureate Tutu backs people’s tribunal vs Arroyo

Manila, Philippines

Manila, Philippines

South African bishop and Nobel Peace Prize Desmond Tutu has endorsed an international tribunal that is set to try the Arroyo administration for human rights violations, particularly the continued extrajudicial killings in the country.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the Philippines will hold its second session from March 21 to 25 at The Hague, The Netherlands.

A statement from the tribunal secretariat quoted Tutu, who is archbishop emeritus of Cape Town, South Africa, as saying that he “wholeheartedly supports the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal on the Philippines in their noble cause and pray that all of us through them will succeed in this pursuit of justice and peace in the Philippines!”

“Our brothers and sisters in the Philippines who are fighting for justice and wellbeing for all…are being slaughtered as we speak,” Tutu said, as he urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to “stop the terror inflicted on those who seek justice in your land. Stop using the so-called war against terrorism to oppress and kill your own people.”

The tribunal will be hearing charges filed by the groups Hustisya, Desaparecidos, Selda, and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan against Arroyo and officials of her administration, US President George W. Bush, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank, World Trade Organizations, and multinational corporations and foreign banks operating in the Philippines.

The charges involve alleged gross and systematic violations of civil and political rights, gross and systematic violations of economic, social and cultural rights, and gross and systematic violations of the right to national self-determination and liberation.

The Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, founded in June 1979 in Italy by law experts, is an international opinion tribunal, independent from any state authority, which examines and judges complaints regarding violations of human rights and rights of peoples that are submitted by the victims themselves or groups representing them.

Although its verdicts are non-enforceable, the tribunal has helped bring pressure on governments it has tried.

In 1980, the tribunal heard a case against then president Ferdinand Marcos brought by the National Democratic Front and the Moro National Liberation Front and became the first international juridical body to condemn the Marcos dictatorship.

Marcos was later ousted by a popular uprising in February 1986.