NDFP, others join UN in call for ceasefire, release of prisoners

The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) and at least eight other organizations and alliances jointly welcomed the United Nations calls for an immediate global ceasefire and the release of political prisoners as important steps in the fight against Covid-19.

In a joint appeal released on May 5, the group noted that no UN member state has released political prisoners, though some, such as Turkey, Colombia, Spain, Myanmar and Iran have released criminals sentenced for even severe crimes. In contrast, civil society members and humanitarian aid workers continue to be detained in often overcrowded and unhygienic detention centers.

On March 25, the UN called on governments to reduce the number of people in detention and release those detained without sufficient legal basis. These include political prisoners and others detained for expressing critical or dissenting views. As for an immediate global ceasefire, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued an appeal for this on March 23 which he reiterated on April 3.

Unfortunately, many governments have not heeded the UN calls, the signatories lament. Some governments instead use the Covid-19 crisis as an opportunity to intensify their repressive policies, with state forces “opening new fronts and broadening their campaigns of military aggression,” the group said.

Signatories with the NDFP include member organizations of the Resistance and Liberation Movements Network, Inter Alia, the Basque Movement, Peace Dialogue Delegation-National Liberation Army-Colombia, Kurdistan National Congress, some ethnic armed organizations from Myanmar, Euro-Burma Office, and Dr. Sai Oo of the Union Peace and Dialogue Joint Committee of Myanmar.

The organisations also observed that a number of UN member states with internal conflicts use Covid-19 as a “quasi-biological weapon” whereby persons infected with the virus are sent to areas inhabited by their opponents or opposition sympathizers.

Listing six specific calls, the group cited in their list the implementation of the UN call for a global ceasefire, turning unilateral declarations into bilateral or reciprocal ones. Also included are calls for the resolution of political conflicts through meaningful negotiations that address the roots of the conflict; and the immediate release of all political prisoners.

The appeal likewise sought to end military escalation and opening up of new military fronts, including the de-militarization of humanitarian affairs; the urgent provision of Covid-19 pandemic assistance humanitarian aid through UN institutions directly to local civil society organizations for poor and vulnerable populations in areas of armed conflict; and the protection of human rights activists, human rights defenders, and members of social justice movements.

NDFP, others join UN in call for ceasefire, release of prisoners