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Hundreds go on fast for political prisoners

At least 114 inmates and 500 legal workers join the protest

  • ucanews.com reporter, Manila
  • Philippines
  • September 14, 2012
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At least 114 alleged political prisoners, along with 500 lawyers, law students and paralegals, started a protest fast today to call for the immediate release of all prisoners of conscience.

The one-week fast coincides with the 40th anniversary of the declaration of martial law that led to the 20-year rule of Ferdinand Marcos.

"Today, the government denies the existence of political prisoners, while dismissing the fact that [these people] were imprisoned due to their political beliefs," said Angie Ipong, secretary-general of SELDA, an association of former political prisoners.

"Forty years after [martial law was introduced], there has been no genuine change."

According to the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers, the country’s largest human rights lawyers’ group, there are currently 385 political prisoners in the country.

Edre Olalia, NUPL secretary general, said it is "anomalous and anachronistic" to still have prisoners of conscience .

"It is as if we are living in a time warp and have only gone from one form of state repression or intolerance to another," he said.

A number of political prisoners are NUPL clients, including many elderly and sick people, said Olalia.

International lawyers groups, including the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and the International Association of People’s Lawyers, are supporting the protest and joining the call for the release of the prisoners, the NUPL said in a statement.
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