Wednesday, February 17, 2010

EU President's sister condemns jailing of 43 health workers in the Philippines

A sister of the European Union's recently-elected President Herman Van Rompuy has added her voice to the growing international protests over the plight of 43 health workers wrongfully arrested and detained by the Philippines.

In a statement issued from Belgium, Christine Van Rompuy, who is a also nurse, called on Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to "immediately release" the health workers now known as "Morong 43" who are now incarcerated at Camp Capinpin.

"As a nurse who has visited the Philippines, I personally know and note that the organizations of these detained health workers do an excellent job. They provide primary health care in the poorest areas of the Philippines. They are brave men and women who defy very difficult circumstances to help their fellow citizens," said Van Rompuy.

"I object strongly to their illegal arrest and detention without a warrant," said Van Rompuy.

Van Rompuy said she was "horrified" when she learned that the Philippine Army allegedly tortured the imprisoned health workers.

Van Rompuy appear to have a keen interest in the Philippines and reminded the Arroyo government that "justice must be done" not just for the "Morong 43" but also for victims of 1,070 political killings and 202 enforced disappearances that have occurred since 2001, when Mrs. Arroyo first assumed the presidency.

The European Union last week started a 15-month, 3.9-million Euro project with the Arroyo government to stop and solve extrajudicial executions and enforced disappearances.

Dubbed as the "EU-Philippine Justice Support Program", the project's team leader on the EU side is Detlev Mehlis, a senior prosecutor and section head at Berlin's Office of the Superior Prosecutor.

Assisting Mehlis are Bo Åström of Sweden, head of the Swedish National Police Academy's international affairs division, and Benedetta Odorisio of Italy, who has worked extensively with the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Church organizations and churches across the world have condemned the Arroyo government over the plight of the "Morong 43" - including the World Council of Churches, the World Student Christian Federation, the United Church of Canada and the Presbyterian Church of the United States.

The Presbyterian Church has informed US President Barack Obama and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton about the case of the "Morong 43".

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Justice for the 43!