We don’t deserve bullet

By Bikas Gurung

Watch Full Video of the Event [Begins @ 33:56]


Dying Democracy: A Public Forum on the War on Drugs and the Human Rights Situation in the Philippines. #DyingDemocracyPH #StoptheKillings

โพสต์โดย Advocacy Network Against Killings in the Philippines - ANAK บน 5 ตุลาคม 2017

We don’t deserve bullet.

Speaking before a hall full of participants representing overseas Filipinos living in Thailand, media, regional and international organizations, human rights defenders and UN agencies, Mr. Anand Chabungbam from the Asian Network of People who Use Drugs (ANPUD) said –

“We don’t deserve bullet on our back simply because I/we use drugs”.

Anand spoke along with five other panelists at a session titled “Dying Democracy: A Public Forum on the War on Drugs and Human Rights in the Philippines” that was organized by the Advocacy Network Against Killings in the Philippines (ANAK) on October 5, 2017 at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Thailand in Bangkok.

The other panelists were Dr. Agnes Callamard from the UN Special Rapporteur on Extra-Judicial, Summary, or Arbitrary Executions; Commissioner Leah Tanodra-Armamento from the Commission of Human Rights of the Philippines; Ms. Luzviminda Siapo, mother of Raymart Siapo who was killed in the Philippines war on drugs; Mr. Imesh Pokharel from the Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights Regional Office for Southeast Asia; and Dr. Sriprapha Petcharamesree from the Mahidol University Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies.

Among all the panelists, Anand represented the voice and perspective of people who use drugs. While sharing his personal experiences on drug use he underscored the significance of harm reduction services in saving lives of people who use drugs in the Philippines – “At one point of time I have even been in the street. My family threw me out and I had to go through all the challenges in my life. I had to beg, had to survive with torn clothes, with a slipper, which was tied with barbed wire. That’s how I was living when I was using. Having said that, when those [harm reduction] services were made available to me, I made an effort to pull myself out and to come back to the mainstream society and here I am today in front of you. This can be the same with the brothers and sisters in the Philippines”.

“We are trying to be responsible not only for our community- reaching out to them, helping them out, trying to get them access to services, trying to link them with facilities and counsel them peer to peer to help them out. We are also responsible for our own family. Our own family depends on us. Tomorrow if I am shot there are three lives depending on me”, he further added.

Dr. Callamard, along with the extra-judicial killings, raised the concerns around the secondary victimization happening to the people inside prisons via spreading of Tuberculosis. She informed the participants about the reluctance of Philippines government to invite independent UN-led investigation or to even provide report of any state investigation. Emphasizing the international human rights obligations she said –

“It is not enough to say a person was killed in lawful police operation. Police operations can be lawful but killings are unlawful”.

Commissioner Leah focused her speech on the ground reality of Philippines and the life threatening challenges of human rights defenders and witnesses while documenting the extra-judicial killings. Mr. Pokharel echoed the importance of these documentations to bring justice in the near future. Based on his experience working in other countries, he also highlighted that it is imperative to build network of families of victims not only to advocate but to care and share with each other, the pain and suffering caused to them as a result of the war on drugs waged by the Philippines President Duterte. Dr. Sriprapha shared the experiences of Thai war on drugs and how these policies brought more harm to a person and society than the drug itself.

The session was emotional and full of tears for many participants and Ms. Luzviminda (Minda) who shared the story of her child who was shot dead while she was in Kuwait. Minda, single mother of two children, was an overseas Filipino worker (OFW). Her son Raymart Siapo was disabled by birth. Fourteen armed men on motorbikes took him and shot him twice in the head on March 29, 2017.

The heart-breaking incident that happened to Minda could happen to anyone. In fact, the 17-year old Kian’s mother was also one of the OFW. At least 54 children have been killed – many of whose parents are OFW – by police and unidentified gunmen in the war on drugs since July 2016. Minda believes that every young person will mature at some age and will realize the path he/she has chosen is wrong. It is not correct to kill a young person and not give him/her a chance to mature.

In June 2016, President Duterte won the election with landslide. Many Filipinos including the victims of the war on drugs and OFW voted him, ostensibly to see a safe and prosperous Philippines. However, such Filipino dreams have been destroyed by bloody war and sufferings. Over 13000 people suspected of using or selling drugs have been killed, thousands arrested and millions affected in the Philippines.

Duterte based his war on drugs on myths, misconceptions and false statistics. He swayed public to believe that drug users are not human and their brains are not functional. Outraged by the atrocities, Bikas, one of the participants representing ANPUD went up to the microphone and called Duterte a liar. Addressing to the Duterte followers he said, “Your president has been a liar all this time.”

“I am a drug user, fully functional in front of you. I work. I support my family. I am not a zombie. I am a human being standing right in front of you with my brains intact”; he further added explaining why he called Duterte a liar.

The event concluded with the official Statement of Overseas Filipinos Living in Thailand. The Advocacy Network against Killings in the Philippines (ANAK) is an informal group of Thailand-based Filipinos deeply concerned about the human rights situation in the Philippines.


โพสต์โดย Advocacy Network Against Killings in the Philippines – ANAK บน 5 ตุลาคม 2017