Over 130 community members and human rights advocates gathered to listen to stories of human rights violations and political repression from people who recently returned from the Philippines.
Vice-chair of Bayan USA, Rhonda Ramiro, stressed the climate of repression under Duterte as she met family members of the reported 14,000 victims of the drug war.
She also shared meeting with those in the evacuation camps displaced from Marawi during the intense fighting, and stories of various human rights defenders.
“We met Lumad children who told us about the harassment of them at their schools by the military, and the military coming in and killing their teacher and school administrator, because they’re living on land that is considered rich of resources that mining corporations want to take over the land and extract it,” Ramiro said.
Human rights advocates shared different actions that can be done in the US — like writing letters to representatives in Congress — urging them to stop sending military aid to the Philippines.
“We told them about being able to educate people in their communities about what’s happening, about companies that are doing businesses among those that are extracting resources or taking the land away from the people. Folks here can boycott or divest from.”
Activists here say that the message was well received from the community because they were able to see similar struggles that they are facing in comparison to the struggles of those in the Philippines.
“The denial of good health care, denial of education, being pushed off the land, all of that. There’s this commonality. So there’s a solidarity in that and genuine compassion for each other,” said Pam Tau Lee.
A number of attendees donated to the campaign, promised to write letters to their Congress representatives, and signed up to be involved in further actions and informational events.