Dutch activist detained by immigration officials
By RONALYN V. OLEA, Bulatlat.com –
6 August 2013
“While notorious human rights violators and corrupt officials can freely
go in and out of the Philippines, Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum was
detained by the Bureau of Immigration today. Clearly, he is being
persecuted by the Aquino government for exercising his freedom of
expression…” – Karapatan
MANILA — A Dutch activist who joined the protest action during the State
of the Nation Address of President Benigno Aquino III was prevented from
leaving the country by immigration officials.
Thomas van Beersum is being held at the Ninoy Aquino International
Airport (NAIA). He became prominent when photos of him castigating a
policeman for the violent dispersal during the SONA demonstration came out.
In a phone interview with Bulatlat.com, Ephraim Cortez of the National
Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) who was able to talk to Van Beersum
over the phone, said the Dutch activist was being asked to get a
clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) before he can
leave the country. Cortez said a certain Soloren who introduced himself
as an intelligence officer of the Bureau of Immigration told him over
the phone that Van Beersum needs to secure a clearance from the NBI
stating that he is not facing any pending charges. As of press time,
Cortez is seeking ways to talk with the Dutch activist in person.
“He is not aware of any charges filed against him,” Cortez told
Bulatlat.com. “He did not do anything illegal and merely voiced out his
opinion regarding the human rights situation in the country. He was only
exercising his freedom of speech.”
Van Beersum was one of the more than 200 delegates of the International
Conference on Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines held last month
in Manila. In his open letter to Joselito Sevilla, the policeman whom he
was seen shouting at during the SONA protest, Van Beersum said: “I
attended the SONA protest because I had been outraged by the human
rights violations committed by the corrupt Aquino regime.” He mentioned
Dutch missionary Willem Geertman as a person he personally knew who was
murdered last July 3, 2012.
Cortez said the detention of Van Beersum is a clear case of harassment.
In a statement, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan denounced the detention of
Van Beersum and demanded for his immediate release. “We demand that his
rights be respected, that he not be paraded like a criminal,” Bayan said.
Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights alliance Karapatan,
said: “While notorious human rights violators and corrupt officials can
freely go in and out of the Philippines, Dutch activist Thomas van
Beersum was detained by the Bureau of Immigration today. Clearly, he is
being persecuted by the Aquino government for exercising his freedom of
expression, a right guaranteed by the UN International Covenant on Civil
and Political Rights even of non-citizens, and his support for the
campaign against extrajudicial killings and other human rights
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