Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing & Justice (PATH) was formally organized in 2002, pioneering in its focus on human rights violations by a non-state armed group. Composed of torture survivors, families, relatives and friends of victims missing or executed during the anti-infiltration campaigns within the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in the 1980s, PATH seeks truth and justice from the CPP-NPA and other Left blocs involved in the anti-infiltration campaigns.
PATH believes that all non-state armed groups, including those not from the Left movement, should observe human rights in the conduct of their resistance against the State. Ultimately, PATH holds the State accountable as well for the purges, and for military atrocities during martial law and throughout successive administrations.
Goals & Objectives
PATH's goals and objectives are as follows:
1. Complete the documents of the cases of all victims during the purges and all those involved.
2. Organize a national community of human rights defenders and advocates composed of survivors, families, relatives and friends of victims during the purges.
3. Facilitate the healing of survivors as well as the families, relatives and friends of purge victims.
4. Conduct exhumations so that victims are given due respect and proper burial.
5. Conduct a comprehensive advocacy work. Its main components will be public information and campaign, solidarity-building and lobbying at the local, national and international levels.
6. Deepen and popularize the culture of human rights through artistic and popular education, productions and other cultural endeavors.
7. Come up with case studies of country experiences on the setting up of Truth and Justice Commissions and strive for the creation of a Truth and Justice Commission in the country together with other human rights organizations and individual human rights advocates.
Research & Documentation. Documents stories and produces a database of victims in aid of locating burial sites; conducts research to surface facts and circumstances of the purges; publishes materials as tools for justice campaigns; ensures confidentiality and security of records and files.
Recovery of Victims' Remains. In cooperation with the victims' kin, locates gravesites, retrieves the remains and arranges their proper burial; mobilizes the services of forensic experts and other professionals; initiates dialogues with the victims' families as well as with perpetrators.
Counseling & Therapy. Facilitates healing sessions that address the long-term trauma of surivivors and victims families; mobilizes professionals in the fields of psychology and psychiatry; builds support groups for victims and their families towards eventual closure.
Communications & Popular Education. Develops education programs, including theoretical materials and tools for reflection, that revolve around human rights and respect for human dignity; holds commemoration activities and builds memorials for the victims; develops external communications through publications and mass media.
Legal & Security. Leads in the initiation and pursuance of legal actions for victims; assist in the handling and protection of material evidence in coordination with the RVR Committee; conducts research on the possibilities of a Truth Commission; studies the implications of PATH's work on the peace negotiations between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the CPP-NPA-NDF; and ensures lines with established institutions that will help strengthen PATH;
Arts & Culture. Produces musical compositions, literary works, plays, video documentaries, films, and other cultural works from the stories of survivors and victims.
Organizing & Advocacy. Reaches out to survivors and victims' families in different regions and encourages solidarity in their journey towards justice and healing.
(Angola) Amnesty International today released a report revealing the scale and extent of forced evictions in Angola, and expressing particular concern at forced evictions carried out by Angolan authorities, apparently at the request of the Catholic Church in Angola.
The organization said that nearly all of the forced evictions were accompanied by excessive use of force, which sometimes involved police beatings of children and women -- including one pregnant woman -- and indiscriminate shooting at residents attempting to protect their homes.
According to the report, Lives in ruins: forced evictions continue, thousands of families have been forcibly evicted since 2001 -- nearly always without notification to the families affected. Tens of thousands have been left without shelter, with hundreds of families still living their lives in ruins.
Since September 2004, the homes of residents in the Kilamba Kiaxi municipality have been demolished repeatedly to make room for public and private housing projects. In 2006, the Angolan government publicly acknowledged the right to compensation of those forcibly evicted, and proclaimed that it was reviewing its housing strategy with a view to responding to the housing needs of its urban population. Thus far, none of the affected residents of Kilamba Kiaxi has received compensation or alternative adequate accommodation.
"Despite these claims by the government, the housing situation in Luanda has not improved -- in fact, hundreds of families are still homeless after having been forced from their homes," said Tawanda Hondora, Deputy Director of Amnesty International's Africa Programme. "Disturbingly, many forced evictions in the last two years have been carried out apparently at the request of the Catholic Church."
In 1998, the Angolan government formally returned to the Catholic Church land the Church owned prior to independence, in response to a request by the late Pope John Paul II when he visited Angola in 1992. However, families have been living on this land -- in the Wenji Maka neighbourhood of Luanda -- for several years, or even decades in some cases.
When granting the land title to the Catholic Church, Angolan authorities reportedly did not take into consideration those people already living on the land, and national police have repeatedly tried to expel over 2,000 families in the area where the Catholic Church intends to build a sanctuary.
In response to Amnesty International's request for information regarding the Catholic Church's involvement in these forced evictions, the Archbishop of Luanda stated the Church, when reclaiming title over land, had asked the government to provide land in other areas for the affected individuals. The Archbishop also alleged that in many instances individuals put up constructions on land when they found out that the Church had intentions to use the land. The Archbishop further justified the actions of the Church by saying "summum ius summa iniuria" (extreme law, extreme justice) -- or, as the Archbishop interpreted it, "justica absoluta pode desembocar em injustica" (absolute justice can result in injustice).
"The Catholic Church should not ask the Angolan authorities to evict people occupying land to which the Church has been granted title," said Tawanda Hondora.
"However, the primary responsibility for forced evictions rests with the Angolan government, which must not only stop all such illegal action, but also provide assistance to victims of previous forced evictions who remain without shelter and issue clear orders to law enforcement personnel that they must not take part in any further forced evictions and prosecute those responsible for human rights violations."
Background The Angolan government is reportedly planning the biggest urban project ever attempted in Africa, and is implementing other construction projects with the support of the Chinese government. The resulting increased pressure for urban land is resulting in forced evictions of the poorest families of Luanda from various neighbourhoods in the capital city, driving such families into ever deeper poverty.
Bus Driver Raped by Police Faces New Risk of Torture
Egyptian Authorities Responsible for Safety of Torture Victim Sentenced to Prison
(Cairo, January 13, 2007) — A criminal court in Giza this week sentenced `Imad al-Kabir, a 21-year-old microbus driver tortured and raped by police last year, to three months in prison for resisting authorities and assaulting an officer, Human Rights Watch said today. Al-Kabir now risks being sent back to the same police station where he was tortured by police officers who later circulated a video of his rape.
Al-Kabir told Human Rights Watch that two plainclothes officers detained him on January 18, 2006, after he intervened in an altercation between the officers and his cousin. He said that the officers took him to Bulaq al-Dakrur police station, where they beat him, tied him by his wrists and ankles, and raped him with a stick while one of the officers made a video of the torture with his mobile phone. The video shows al-Kabir screaming and begging for mercy while being raped. A police report dated January 18, 2006, indicated that al-Kabir was arrested for “resisting authorities” and assaulting a civil servant performing his duties. On January 9, roughly a month after after al-Kabir complained to prosecutors about the abuse he suffered in custody, Judge Samir Abu al-Mati sentenced al-Kabir to three months is prison. “Egyptian authorities are responsible for `Imad al-Kabir’s safety in custody,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East Director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities must not send al-Kabir back to face further harm or intimidation, and they should take immediate steps to prosecute the people who tortured him.” According to al-Kabir, police told him they circulated the video among other microbus drivers from his neighborhood to “break his spirit.” Egyptian bloggers posted the video in early November, sparking intense press interest and public outcry. In early December, al-Kabir publicly identified two of the officers who tortured him as Capt. Islam Nabih and Corp. Rida Fathi of the Bulaq al-Dakrur police station and filed a complaint with the public prosecutor. The prosecutor summoned al-Kabir on December 12 for questioning regarding his complaint and on December 24 ordered the two held for questioning. In a separate hearing on January 9, Judge al-Mati, the same judge who sentenced al-Kabir to prison, also denied bail to the two police officers, whose trial is scheduled to begin in March. “The state has an obligation to protect al-Kabir as a witness in a torture case,” Whitson said. “Sending a torture victim back to the same place where he said he was tortured on charges brought by his alleged torturers raises enormous concerns about his safety.” The Convention Against Torture, which Egypt ratified in 1986, requires that anyone alleging torture and any witnesses to the torture should be “protected against all ill-treatment or intimidation as a consequence of his complaint or any evidence given.” The same Convention states that Egypt is obliged to prohibit any form of torture or ill treatment and to protect victims by carrying out thorough, impartial and prompt investigations into allegations of torture and filing criminal charges where appropriate. Article 42 of Egypt’s constitution provides that any person in detention “shall be treated in a manner concomitant with the preservation of his dignity” and that “no physical or moral (ma`nawi) harm is to be inflicted upon him.” But article 126 of Egypt’s Penal Code gives a narrow definition of torture as physical abuse alone occurring only when the victim is “an accused,” and only when it is being used in order to coerce a confession. This definition improperly excludes cases of mental or psychological abuse, and cases where the torture is committed against someone other than “an accused” or for purposes other than securing a confession. Human Rights Watch and Egyptian lawmakers have repeatedly called on the government to change the Penal Code to incorporate Egypt’s obligations under international human rights law and also to amend laws that allow the government to hold detainees incommunicado for months at a time. Incommunicado detention makes it easy to mistreat suspects with impunity and have allowed torture to become commonplace in Egyptian detention facilities, Human Rights Watch said. “The fact that the people who tortured `Imad al-Kabir videotaped their crime suggests that they thought they could get away with it,” Whitson said. “The government must end the shadowy culture of impunity that the video exposed.”
Congress Should Restore Detainees’ Access to Courts
(Washington, DC, January 5, 2007) – As the fifth anniversary of the Guantanamo Bay detention center approaches, Human Rights Watch denounced the ongoing detentions there as a shameful blight on US respect for human rights. Human Rights Watch called on the Bush administration to bring criminal charges or release the nearly 400 detainees, and restore their access to federal court.
" Detaining hundreds of men without charge at Guantanamo has been a legal and political debacle of historic proportions. It’s time to close Guantanamo. The Bush administration should either charge or release the detainees trapped in a nightmarish limbo. " Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch On January 11, 2002, the first 20 detainees in the “war on terror” arrived, hooded and shackled, at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Today, close to 400 men remain there without charge, unable to challenge the lawfulness of their detention before federal court. “Detaining hundreds of men without charge at Guantanamo has been a legal and political debacle of historic proportions,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “It’s time to close Guantanamo. The Bush administration should either charge or release the detainees trapped in a nightmarish limbo.” Since establishing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, the Bush administration has sought to shroud it in secrecy and insulate its actions from judicial review. After the Supreme Court ruled that detainees could challenge the lawfulness of their detention in courts, the Bush administration pushed legislation through Congress that revokes that right. The same legislation strips detainees of the right to challenge their treatment, even if they have been tortured, and even after they have been released. “The first order of business for the new Congress should be to restore the detainees’ right to habeas corpus,” Roth said. “It’s a vital mechanism for preventing abuse of detainees and for protecting people who shouldn’t be in detention.” The administration has sought to justify its ongoing detentions at Guantanamo by labeling those held as “enemy combatants” without regard to the requirements of the laws of war. The Department of Defense claims it is giving the detainees basic due process rights through so-called Combatant Status Review Tribunals, cursory administrative hearings in which detainees can contest their designation as enemy combatants. However, these hearings do not even come close to anything like an independent judicial review: they are neither independent nor fair. In the Combatant Status Review Tribunals, the government relied extensively on secret classified evidence – putting the detainee in the impossible situation of rebutting evidence that he had never seen. In many cases, the detainee was never even told what specific activities he was accused of doing that would supposedly make him an “enemy combatant.” Coerced statements – even if obtained by torture – were admissible against the detainee and, like all of the government’s evidence, presumed to be “genuine and accurate.” And detainees could not be represented by lawyers, and in most cases were not able to produce any witnesses or evidence apart from their own statements. “If the US believes that these men have committed acts that legally justify detention, it is hard to understand why it is so fearful of meaningful and independent judicial review,” Roth said. Although they have been labeled “combatants,” most of the detainees were picked up far from any battlefield. According to the Pentagon’s own records, the US has not even accused the vast majority of them of carrying a weapon or fighting US or coalition forces. Hundreds of the detainees were sold to the US by bounty hunters or turned over by rival clan members, while high-level Taliban and al Qaeda operatives with the resources to buy their freedom got away. Detainees include: men who were arrested in Bosnia and have been cleared of wrongdoing by Bosnian courts; an Afghan who opposed the Taliban and joined the transitional government but was turned over to US forces by a rival clan; and more than a dozen Chinese Uighurs who have been slated for release but cannot be returned to China because they will likely be tortured. They have nowhere else to go and have been refused asylum in the US. The Bush administration claims it plans to charge up to 70 of the Guantanamo detainees in the military commissions authorized by Congress in October 2006. That leaves more than 300 men still held in Guantanamo without charge and without any clear explanation of what they are accused of doing. Many should have been released long ago under the laws of armed conflict. “Not a single one of the allegedly high-level terrorists has been brought to trial for his crimes,” Roth said. “The victims of September 11 and the American public deserve to see justice done.”
Peace Advocates for Truth, Healing and Justice (PATH) 45 Matimtiman St., cor. Magiting St., Teachers' Village East Quezon City 1101, Philippines Tel. No: (632) 921-8049 Telefax: (632) 926-2893
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The book about the CPP-NPA Purges
"Bobby Garcia provides a riveting account of the Communist Party of the Philippines' "killing fields" and situates it within the context of a revolutionary movement that was nobly motivated but also tragically flawed. To Suffer Thy Comrades goes beyond Garcia's narrative of his and other survivors' harrowing experiences and explains why the purges took place, how both torturers and victims coped and made sense of their plight, and how they survived in the aftermath of the purge. The book sheds light on the darkest and deepest secrets of the revolutionary movement and provides insights that are useful now that the communists are negotiating peace with the government" - SHEILA CORONEL, Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism
"...Bobby Garcia had the courage to write about the 'killing fields' despite some people's efforts to dissuade him. Bobby was one of its victims -- he was 21 when his entire future was nearly taken away from him -- who was lucky enough to survive. And who is even luckier to retain a huge sense of humor and equanimity, even when talking about his ordeal, at least with friends. His book is called "To Suffer Thy Comrades"...It is certainly not something that will set your mind at rest. But read it anyway. Its virtue is to be found in that biblical observation, 'The truth shall set you free.' - CONRADO DE QUIROS, Philippine Daily Inquirer