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Philippine officials arrest controversial Dutch activist

Thomas van Beersum detained as he was trying to leave the country

Philippine officials arrest controversial Dutch activist

Thomas van Beersum was arrested as he was trying to leave the country

ucanews.com reporter, Manila
Philippines

August 6, 2013

Authorities today arrested a Dutch activist who made headlines in the Philippines after reducing a policeman to tears while shouting at him during a protest rally last month.

Thomas van Beersum was arrested by immigration officials while he was about to leave the country.

Wilson Soloren, head of the Immigration Bureau's intelligence unit, said Beersum would be deported after the National Bureau of Investigation clears the activist of any pending case.

Beersum is the subject of summary deportation proceedings for violating the terms of his stay as a tourist in the country by joining a protest action during President Benigno Aquino’s State of the Nation address on July 22, Soloren said.

The Dutch national made headlines after a photograph showing him shouting at a police officer went viral on social networking sites. 

Beersum was in the country to attend a human rights conference.

The activist said he attended the protest rally because he had been "outraged by the human rights violations committed by the corrupt Aquino regime," including the murder last year of William Geertman, a Dutch missionary.

"I am tired of the extrajudicial killings, the illegal arrests, the forced demolitions, the land-grabbings, the puppetry to US-imperialism, tired of all the oppression and exploitation of the workers, farmers, students, women, indigenous, urban poor, LGBTs, and all other oppressed groups," he said in an open letter posted on his Facebook page.

Renato Reyes, secretary-general of the activist group New Patriotic Alliance, denounced the Beersum’s detention, calling it "plain harassment."

The Kilusang Mayo Uno labor center said in a statement that Beersum’s detention has "no legal basis whatsoever and is political harassment pure and simple."

"When the Arroyo government was committing human rights violations with impunity, and Aquino was nowhere in sight to oppose such violations, foreign activists like Beersum spoke up for the rights of the Filipino workers and people," the group said.

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