HRW criticize blacklisting of Dutch activist
Thomas van Beersum deported following protest rant at crying policeman
Police take fingerprints of Dutch rights activist Thomas van Beersum after he was detained while trying to board a flight out of the country (AFP photo)
Human Rights Watch (HRW) today called on the government to revoke the blacklisting of a Dutch activist blamed for making a policeman cry during a protest last month.
Thomas van Beersum, 20, was deported and banned permanently from the country yesterday.
"Instead of harassing those who decry the continued violations of human rights, [President Benigno] Aquino should welcome them," Carlos Conde, HRW coordinator in the Philippines, said.
Van Beersum was about to board a flight on Tuesday back to the Netherlands when immigration officials detained him for 30 hours at Manila international airport.
Immigration chief Siegfred Mison said Van Beersum violated visa rules because he joined an anti-government rally on July 23.
The activist was also branded an "undesirable alien," put on an "alert list order" and blacklisted.
"That Van Beersum was arrested when he was already on his way out suggests this was nothing but harassment," HRW's Conde said.
He said the government’s behavior violates the guarantees of free expression and peaceful assembly to which foreign visitors as well as Philippine citizens are entitled under international law.
"It undermines Aquino’s claims that his administration respects human rights and values civil liberties," he added.
Van Beersum made headlines after a photograph showing him berating a policeman who was in tears went viral on social networking sites.
The activist was in the country to attend a human rights conference.
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