Hands Off Gill Boehringer! Hands off human rights defenders! - Karapatan

“We stress that Prof. Gill Boehringer should be allowed entry in the Philippines. He is suffering from serious ailments that need medical attention. He needs to be transferred to a medical facility with adequate equipment. The detention and blacklisting of an 84-year-old man with a medical condition show the cruelty of this regime, adamant to harass and intimidate rights defenders who have worked for years in defending and promoting human rights in the country,” said Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay, adding that Boehringer has been under custody of the Bureau of Immigration at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1 since midnight of August 8, 2018. As of this writing, Prof. Boehringer is still at NAIA 1. 

On August 9, Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that Boehringer was blacklisted by the Bureau of Immigration (BI) because he “engaged in domestic protest actions”, allegedly back in 2015. The Justice Secretary further added that while the law professor may appeal his case, delisting him is “purely an act of grace on the part of the sovereign state.”

“The Justice Secretary responds as if the person in question has done a heinous crime, when no evidence has been presented against Prof. Boehringer. Sec. Guevarra, delisting Boehringer is an act of justice that is likewise consistent with the people’s basic rights and fundamental freedoms. Criminalizing the expression of international solidarity is an act of repressive states desperate to hide their crimes and to prevent scrutiny by the international community,” said Palabay, reiterating that the BI order used as basis to detain foreign nationals such as Sr. Patricia Fox and Prof. Gill Boehringer is a violation of internationally recognized rights and freedoms that ALL governments should uphold and protect.

Palabay also assailed Sec. Guevarra’s statement that the BI is not targeting any group. “The Justice Secretary is feigning ignorance on the targetting and systematic repression of all human rights and people’s rights advocates, when his department and offices under him are among the primary implementers of this witch hunt. All of those pursued by the BI under Duterte, such as Australian missionary Sr. Patricia Fox, Methodist missionaries Adam Thomas Shaw (US), Tawanda Chandiwana (Zimbabwe), and Miracle Osman (Malawi), and Boehringer, have all conducted missionary and human rights work in Mindanao. All charges against them are reportedly based on reports of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA). Is this merely a coincidence? We don’t think so,” she said. 

“Clearly, there is targeting of individuals who uphold and defend human and people’s rights. It should be noted that NICA is among the agencies who supplied false information that the DOJ used in the drafting of its proscription petition. The said agency is also among those responsible for trumped-up cases against activists and rights defenders. This is the concerted handiwork of a defensive and paranoid government that constantly seeks to bury the truth on the real human rights situation in the Philippines,” Palabay further said.

“We call on the BI to immediately remove Boehringer and other rights defenders from the blacklist order, and allow the Australian professor entry into the country. This is indicative of the regime’s continuing contempt for human rights and all who advocate for it , whether Filipinos or foreign nationals,” concluded Palabay.

Reference:

Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831

Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580