On Friday April 19th, the 1-year anniversary of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detention, torture and deportation of Jerome Aba, a Philippine Human rights advocate, the International Migrants Alliance (IMA) in the U.S. joined dozens of supporters at an action at SFO’s International Terminal to continue the campaign for “Justice for Jerome” and for Human Rights in the Philippines.
On that very same day, IMA got word that a Mexican human rights attorney and defender Alejandro Alberto Ruiz-Eldredge Goicochea was “detained isolated in customs cells, permanently handcuffed, strongly beaten” at LAX, allegedly also by Customs and Border Protection. While the Coalition for Humane Immigrant Rights of Los Angeles (CHIRLA) and the L.A. Raids Rapid Response Network are still confirming details, the Mexican consulate confirmed that the young lawyer was deported to France since his passport is from that country.
These egregious and ironic violations of the human rights of human rights advocates are coming to light from the dark corners of major U.S. international airports. This, after the CBP under Trump has been thoroughly exposed as both inhumane and incompetent in their treatment of children, families, refugees and asylum seekers at the Mexico-US border where the numbers of the “Migrant Exodus” are now reaching tens of thousands. While the U.S. CBP has also recently been exposed harassing and impeding the freedom of movement of human rights attorneys and activists supporting the Migrant Exodus at the southern border, harassment and even worse beating and torture, are clearly happening in blacksite-like operations in the airport facilities of major cities like Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Members of IMA have integrated with the forced migrants of the Exodus, both in their journey through Mexico City and at Tijuana/San Diego, Juarez/El Paso, and soon at the Arizona border area as well. The desperation and lack of any real option but to migrate north to the U.S. was very clear in every visit with the migrants and asylum seekers. This highlights the systemic forced migration that makes this current Migrant Exodus both a symptom of the deeper problems of neoliberalism and historic U.S. military intervention in Central America, and now a very clear act of resistance by the people most impacted by U.S. imperialism’s attacks on the people of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. Now, we are witnessing the clear targeting, harassment, illegal detention and apparent criminal torture of human rights advocates from our home countries who are powerful voices helping to expose these endemic crises.
Several participants at the rally at SFO were present at the action last year that helped bring national attention to the gross violations of Jerome’s freedom of movement, right to due process, and habeas corpus. Others shared their experience just 2 weeks ago in Washington D.C. lobbying U.S. congressional representatives to cut all military aid to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) who are responsible for close to 30,000 extrajudicial killings combined. These recent figures are an intensification of the very same human rights abuses that Jerome would have testified to a year ago as a first-hand witness, but he was nonetheless prevented from entering the country despite having a 10-year multiple entry visa on the invitation of churches and human rights groups from across the U.S.
Tareq Samman, the Community Defense Coordinator from the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC), who was at SFO for several hours during Jerome’s detention in April 2018, vowed to continue the fight with everyone present “until all human rights defenders and travelers including Muslims, activists, and asylum seekers, are treated with dignity and respect and until we systematically address the devastation of our homelands and the human rights crises from Palestine to Mexico to the Philippines.” Recently, CBP harassment and the extended detention of Muslim, Arab, and even a plane load of Chinese travelers have also been reported by AROC and Chinese for Affirmative Action at SFO since the torture of Jerome just last year. Samman closed by saying, “We will not let them silence us with this inhumane torture and treatment, right in our backyard at SFO, in 2019!”
IMA will continue to expose these human rights abuses and violations at the Mexico-U.S. border and throughout the U.S. interior at major international airports around the country. The impunity of CBP’s illegal human rights violations must stop, and there must be accountability and Justice for Jerome, Alberto, and all human rights defenders, travelers, migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Most importantly, we will continue to call for justice and peace in our home countries and to expose the human rights crises that force us to arrive at U.S. land, sea, and air borders without fear or intimidation. We will continue to organize and advocate for the rights of the Migrant Exodus’ asylum seekers, for human rights in the Philippines, against the deadly Israeli assault on the Great March of Return in Gaza, and we will never be silenced!
Accountability, Not Impunity for CBP Human Rights Violations!
Justice for Jerome!
Justice for Alberto!
End Forced Migration!