Thursday, April 1, 2010

Acupuncture Advocates Call For Release of 43 Filipino Health Workers

To: The Philippine and U.S. Government:

We, the undersigned advocates of acupuncture, strongly condemn the Philippine police and military’s illegal raid and abduction of 43 community health workers, acupuncturists and doctors during a health skills training in Morong, Rizal, Philippines on Saturday, February 6, 2010. The health workers and acupuncturists were participating in a First Responders Training, sponsored by the Community Medicine Foundation, Inc. (COMMED) and Council for Health and Development (CHD). In news interviews, Lt. Colonel Noel Detoyato, the spokesperson for the Philippines Armed Forces 2nd Infantry Division, justified the arrest on grounds that the health workers possessed acupuncture needles and had low educational background.

We refute the validity of military representatives who call acupuncture needles a trademark of armed rebel groups. Acupuncture is a legal and accepted practice in the Philippines. We affirm the role of acupuncture protocols in providing health care in all sectors of society, especially the poorest areas of the world including the Philippines, where a shortage of doctors illuminate severe health disparities and community workers prove vital to acupuncture and health care delivery and prevention. Health workers like the detained 43 health workers have historically been unjustly targeted, harassed, restrained and arrested because they serve the poor and the underserved. These health workers are among the first responders that have tirelessly served the communities affected by the flooding and landslides in the aftermath of Typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng last year.

According to reports by the media and the human rights alliance Karapatan, approximately 300 soldiers and police of the Southern Luzon Command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Rizal Philippine National Police (PNP) forcibly entered the farmhouse of Dr. Melecia Velmonte at 6:15 AM. The training participants were then lined up, violently frisked, blindfolded, and taken to Camp Capinpin, headquarters of the 202nd Infantry Brigade, AFP where they have been detained incommunicado. The Court of Appeals has dismissed the petition for the writ of habeas corpus filed by the relatives of 43 health workers. The victims report instances of sexual abuse, interrogation using physical torture including electrocution and intimidation during late hours of the night.

We are deeply concerned for the safety of these health workers and acupuncturists. We are equally concerned that it is U.S. tax dollars that are being sent to finance the Philippine government and its military in on-going operations that are clear violations of basic human rights. We support the following demands so that they can immediately return to their families and the communities that they serve without further violations of their human rights.
  1. The immediate release of the health workers who are illegally arrested and illegally detained at Camp Capinpin, Tanay, Rizal.
  2. The government must ensure the safety of the victims and that they are not harmed; their belongings be returned immediately to them.
  3. The immediate formation of an independent fact-finding and investigation team composed of representatives from human rights groups, the Church, local government, and the Commission on Human Rights that will investigate the raid and illegal arrest of the health workers conducting health skills training in Morong, Rizal.
  4. The military to stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders, community health workers, and acupuncturists as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state.”
  5. The Philippine Government to be reminded that it is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that it is also a party to all the major Human Rights instruments, thus it is bound to observe all of these instruments’ provisions.
  6. The immediate withdrawal of US military aid to the Philippine government and military that continue to perpetrate violations of human and civil rights.

Michael O. Smith, MD, DAc
Founding Chairperson
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association

Kenny O. Carter, MD, MPH
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association

Elizabeth B. Stuyt, MD
Medical Director
Circle Program, Colorado Mental Health Institute at Pueblo
Board Member, National Acupuncture Detoxification Association

Carol B. Taub, MAT, LAc
President Emeritus and Board Member
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association

David Eisen, L.Ac., MSW, OMD (AM) Sri Lanka
Co-Founder and Past President
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association
Executive Director, Quest Center for Integrative Health

Executive Committee
Oregon College of Oriental Medicine

Laura Cooley, LAc
Policy Advocate
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association
Malula Productions

Wendy Henry, LAc
Community Relief and Rebuilding through Education and Wellness

Susana E. Mendez, L.Ac, LCDC, ABMPP, CAS, NBCCH
Board Member
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association
CEO of the Acupuncture Department of the International Institute of Health for Treatment Research and Education

Cally Haber, LAc
Board Member
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association
Santa Cruz Medical Reserve Corps

Carolyn Reuben, LAc
Board Member
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association

Lisa Rohleder, LAc
Working Class Acupuncture

David Wurzel, LAc and Beth Cole, LAc
National Acupuncture Detoxification Association Registered Trainers

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Justice for the 43!