For the immediate and unconditional release of Jose Maria Sison (Philippines
The New Communist Party Netherlands (NCPN) and the Workers’ Party of Belgium (PTB) vehemently condemn the arrest and detention of Jose Maria Sison (68) by the Dutch authorities, last August 28 in the city of Utrecht. Simultaneously, police raids were held in the homes of other progressive Filipino refugees in the Netherlands and on the International Information Office of the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Dutch authorities accuse Sison falsely of ordering the assassination of two people in the Philippines, in 2003 and 2004.
Jose Maria Sison is the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). From 1977 to 1986, he was the most prominent political prisoner of dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He has been a political refugee in the Netherlands since 1987. This trajectory makes it clear that Sison has long lost any position of active or direct involvement in the leadership of the Philippine revolutionary movement, although he is still held in high esteem by the entire Philippine people’s movement, by democrats and progressives, by leading personalities of various persuasions, nationally and internationally. Currently, Jose Maria Sison is the Senior Political Consultant of the NDFP, the alliance of underground national democratic organisations in the peace negotiations with the Philippine government.
Sison will now be put on trial in the Netherlands, on trumped-up charges. But the real reasons for his arrest are political, not criminal. The United States and the Philippine government have been trying to silence Sison, one of the most influential and vocal critics of the Arroyo government, for many years and by any means. He has been the target of character assassination and judicial measures, impinging on his refugee status. He was labelled a ‘terrorist’, along with the NPA and the CPP, by the US, the European Union and the Netherlands, after Washington declared its so-called ‘global war on terror’ in 2001.
Last July 11, the European Court of First Instance in Luxemburg annulled the Council of the European Union decision blacklisting Sison as a ‘terrorist’, ruling that his rights and safeguards as well as proper procedures were violated. Last July 2, the Philippine Supreme Court dismissed as invalid the charge of rebellion against Sison and 50 other individuals and pointed out that the case was obviously politically motivated. And yet, the Dutch authorities deem it proper to recycle the same old and invalidated charges against him, without any factual basis.
It is ironic that police and judicial action is taken against Jose Maria Sison, himself a long-time victim of political repression and a long-time champion of the cause of a just and lasting peace in the Philippines, while the US-backed Arroyo government continues its campaign of blanket political killings against leaders and activists of the people’s movement in the Philippines with impunity, a campaign that has claimed over 850 innocent lives since 2001.
The move of the Dutch authorities against Jose Maria Sison does not bode well for the democratic rights of progressives and revolutionaries in Europe, which have come under increased attack over the past few years, in line with the US so-called ‘war on terror’. The arrest and detention of Sison hamper rather than help the resumption of peace talks between the NDFP and the Philippine government. In the interest of democracy and peace, we call upon the Dutch authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Jose Maria Sison, drop all charges against him and safeguard his rights.