Thousands of “Tsinelas,” Flip Flops Displayed Outside U.S. Capitol Asks Biden Administration for Passage of Philippine Human Rights Act Ahead of Summit for Democracy

By Miles Ashton, World BEYOND War, November 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC — This Thursday, November 18, Communications Workers of America (CWA), International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), Malaya Movement USA and Kabataan Alliance advocating for human rights in the Philippines unveiled over 3,000 pairs of “tsinelas,” displayed across the National Mall. Each pair represented 10 killings in the Philippines, representative of 30,000 killings and counting under the Duterte regime.

Kristin Kumpf of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines explained, “Tsinelas is a common footwear worn by the everyday people of the Philippines, and represents the lives taken by the Duterte regime. They were everyday people, mothers, fathers, children, peasants, educators, activists, the poor, indigenous, and those who wished for a more democratic and just society in the Philippines.”

Ahead of the Summit for Democracy, activists are calling for Congressional support of the Philippines Human Rights Act, introduced by Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA) and cosponsored by 25 other representatives in response to the increasingly dangerous actions of the Duterte regime to punish and execute trade unionists, human rights activists and members of the media.

Julia Jamora of the Malaya Movement stated, “The Biden Administration has an upcoming summit to address democracy, human rights and oppose authoritarianism around the globe, but how can you hold a human rights summit if you don’t even take action on the Philippines.” Under the Biden administration, the U.S. State Department has approved major arms sales to the Philippines totalling over 2 billion dollars worth of weapons sales.

Activists called for the passage of the Philippine Human Rights Act, a bill introduced by Representative Susan Wild this past June.  “The danger to labor leaders and other activists in the Philippines from the brutal regime of Rodrigo Duterte increases with each passing day,” said CWA’s Senior Director for Government Affairs and Policy Shane Larson. “We cannot turn our backs on them. The Philippine Human Rights Act will save lives, and CWA members are proud to support this bill.”

Michael Neuroth of the United Church of Christ – Justice & Witness Ministries Speaks at the Stop the Killings Rally

The Philippines Human Rights Act blocks U.S. funds for police or military assistance to the Philippines, including equipment and training, until such time as human rights conditions are met. The Philippines is the top recipient of US military aid in the Asia-Pacific region. To date, over 30,000 have been killed in Duterte’s Drug War. In 2019, the United Nations Human Rights Council called for an independent investigation on the human rights situation in the country.

Specifically, the Philippines must meet the following conditions to lift restrictions set by the bill:

  1. Investigating and prosecuting members of the military and police forces who are credibly found to have violated human rights;
  2. Withdrawing the military from domestic policy;
  3. Establishing protections of the rights of trade unionists, journalists, human right defenders, indigenous persons, small-farmers, LGBTI activists, religious and faith leaders, and critics of the government;
  4. Taking steps to guarantee a judicial system that is capable of investigating, prosecuting, and bringing to justice members of the police and military who have committed human rights abuses; and
  5. Fully complying with any and all audits or investigations regarding the improper use of security aid.

Other legislators, Rep Bonamici and Rep Blumenauer of Oregon made a statement in support of the bill on the same day as the action.

Other organizations supporting the bill include: the AFL-CIO, SEIU, Teamsters, American Federation of Teachers, Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines, United Church of Christ – Justice & Witness Ministries, United Methodist Church – General Board of Church & Society, Migrante USA, Gabriela USA, Anakbayan USA, Bayan-USA, Franciscan Network on Migration, Pax Christi New Jersey, and National Alliance for Filipino Concerns.


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