Interview with Jose Maria Sison, target of the U.$. "war on terrorism"
The United $tates declared Philippine political refugee Prof. Jose Maria Sison to be a "terrorist" on August 12, 2002 and asked other governments to freeze his assets and restrict his travel. The government of the Netherlands where Prof. Sison resides issued its "Sanctions ruling on terrorism 2002 III" the following day, criminalizing Philippine Prof. Sison without benefit of due process. This ruling froze Prof. Sison's bank account and removed all state subsidies for food, housing, health insurance and other basic necessities which he received as a recognized political refugee.
Prof. Sison has a long history of activism on behalf of the exploited and oppressed and against U.$. imperialism. He helped found the Kabataan Makabayan (Patriotic Youth) in 1964 and led some of the first protests against Amerikan intervention in Vietnam--of particular relevance as the United $tates used the Philippines as a staging area for aggression in Southeast Asia.
He went on to found the Communist Party of the Philippines on December 26, 1968, the New People's Army on March 29, 1969 and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines on April 24, 1973. He was captured by the Marcos fascist regime on November 10, 1977 and stayed in prison until he was released on March 5, l986 soon after the fall of Marcos. He rejoined the faculty of the University of the Philippines. Then, he left for abroad for a global university lecture tour from September 1, 1986 to 1988. He applied for political asylum in The Netherlands on October 18, 1988 after the Aquino regime canceled his Philippine passport.
The Maoist Internationalist Movement conducted the following interview with Prof. Sison via e-mail on October 23, 2002. A longer phone interview is available on the web at http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/countries/phil/index.html and http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/agitation/philippines.html. Portions of this interview aired on "Voices for Global Justice" (KCSB 91.9 FM Santa Barbara) on November 5.
The website http://www.etext.org/Politics/MIM/agitation/philippines.html also contains petitions and other tools you can use to help defend Prof. Sison's democratic rights.
Q: Could you comment on the charge of terrorism against you? Why does it come now?
SISON: The charge of terrorism against me is pure rubbish. The U.S. government has fabricated it in a vain attempt to demonise and destroy me. It calculates that by targeting and discrediting me with the label "terrorist" and applying repressive measures on me, with the help of other imperialist governments, it can terrorize the progressive overseas Filipinos as well as the people back home in the Philippines. The attack on me is part of the U.S. drive to destroy all the forces in the world that stand up and fight against imperialism.
The United States is the super-terrorist of the world. It has killed millions of civilians in waging wars of aggression and in directing puppet regimes of open terror. It has killed a far greater number of people through the daily violence of imperialist exploitation. Those responsible for the September 11 attacks are former trainees of the United States in terrorism and their acts are small scale in comparison to the grand scale terrorism of U.S. imperialism.
The United States is using the pretext of waging a war on terrorism in order to wage a war of terrorism against the revolutionary movements of peoples and against countries assertive of national independence. A growing number of people are outraged that the U.S. postures as an avenger acting in the name of the victims in the September attacks in order to foment imperialist war and state terrorism and to grab the sources of oil and other natural resources, fields of investment, markets and salient points for military intervention.
Q: What do you see as the definition of terrorism? Do you think Bush is using a consistent definition of terrorism? What do you see as the solution to terrorism?
SISON: Terrorism consists of willful and systematic threats and acts to harm or destroy the lives and properties of the people mainly and essentially. To show what is terrorism and how to stand against it, we must know the principles, conventions and standards of respect for human rights under any condition and of humanitarian conduct towards civilians and incapacitated combatants under conditions of war.
Bush uses terrorism as a catchall and open-ended term for persecuting, repressing and warring on any entity that is opposed to U.S. imperialism. He uses the word for whipping up war hysteria and fascism within the United States and elsewhere in the world and for actually stepping up war production, launching wars of aggression and pushing puppet regimes of open terror.
The solution to terrorism is the resolute and militant struggles of the proletariat and people to defeat imperialism and all reaction. The only way to get rid of terrorism is for the people to get rid of imperialism and achieve national liberation, democracy and socialism. Imperialism is super-terrorism as well as the source of or stimulus for lesser terrorists like Al Qaedda and the Abu Sayyaf.
Q: Colin Powell also labeled the Communist Party of the Philippines a "terrorist" organization in August. At about the same time, the government of Macapagal-Arroyo declared all-out war on the CPP, taking up a new "terrorist" bogeyman after claiming that the Abu Sayaaf group was defeated. Similarly, the government in Nepal has called the Communists waging people's war there "terrorists" when appealing for military aid from the United $tates, China and others. Could you comment on the difference between a people's war and "terrorism"?
SISON: People's war is the revolutionary mass undertaking of the people for the purpose of national and social liberation. It is diametrically opposed to the counterrevolutionary violence or terrorism of the imperialists and their puppets. The imperialist wars of aggression and the repressive regimes of puppets clearly harm and destroy the lives and properties of the people all over the world.
Q: According to the latest reports we have, the Dutch government has frozen your bank account and canceled your subsidies for food, housing, health insurance, etc. Have any other official--or unofficial--punitive measures been taken against you? Members of the Philippine government have made thinly veiled threats against you--for example, that your house might be raided or that you could be deported to the Unites $tates. [We even heard the baseless rumor that you already had been deported to Guantanamo.] What do you think are the gravest threats against you right now? What can be done to counter them?
SISON: I face several grave threats which overshadow the freeze on my small joint bank account with my wife and the termination of social benefits previously accorded to me as a recognized refugee. I can be subjected to a raid and arrest for the purpose of humiliating and defaming me and even for the purpose of planting evidence and arresting me.
According to certain high officials of the Manila government, the US is poised to extradite me under the US-Dutch extradition treaty by fabricating a criminal charge. Supposedly I would be brought to any US military base, Guantanamo, Guam or Diego Garcia, to make difficult or impossible my access to a lawyer of choice for a long time.
A high military official of the Manila government, who is known to be a CIA asset, has been boasting that Bush is likely to order my assassination by the CIA if I do not push the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to capitulate by signing a "final peace agreement" prepared by the reactionary government.
What we can do to counter the punitive actions and threats against me is to expose the oppressive and exploitative character of the imperialists, arouse, organize and mobilize more people for the struggle and pursue various forms of struggle.
Q: You have said the charges against you are also meant to intimidate "all the panelists, consultants, staffers, and supporters of the Europe-based NDFP negotiating panel." Can you comment on concrete intimidations panel members or supporters of the NDFP have faced?
SISON: The panelists, consultants, staffers and supporters of the NDFP negotiating panel are well aware of the actions and threats publicly and discreetly directed against me. They also know why these are being done. These are intended to put me in a corner and pressure me and thereby begin to put the entire NDFP negotiating panel under duress.
Just consider the intimidating effects on others of the unjust acts already taken against me, such as the criminalization without due process, defamation or demonisation, the consequent threats to my life and liberty and the moral and material damages.
I think that the United States and Manila government actually want to destroy the peace negotiations. They are now doing everything to render impossible the resumption of these negotiations. These brats, Bush junior and Gloria Macapagal, think childishly that they can destroy the people's democratic revolution by persecuting me abroad and by intimidating the NDFP negotiating panel.
Q: We have also noted that the charges against you are meant to have a chilling effect here in the United $tates. Now, thanks to the "USA Patriot Act," people who would support even just the publication of the views of yourself or the CPP in the name of a fully informed public debate on something important, say, direct U.$. intervention in the Philippines--such people are meant to wonder whether they will be punished for supporting "terrorists."
SISON: It is true that the Bush administration is trying to put the Filipino community in the United States under a climate of fear. The Patriot Act and other related acts of the United States read like the fascist decrees of Marcos. The Filipinos and Filipino Americans must review how the Filipino people fought and prevailed against the deadly U.S.-sponsored Marcos fascist dictatorship.
They must work and struggle hard in the community and in cooperation with the people of various nationalities against the growing fascism and violent racism in the United States. In the United States and abroad, Bush is already known as a blustering dumbo. The broad masses of the people are muttering, "It's the economy, stupid!" The progressive forces, of course, are striving to spread the message that imperialism is the scourge to be extirpated.
Q: Moving on. George Bush claims that the United $tates must go to war with Iraq in order to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD). What do you think of this claim? What do you think can best be done to eliminate the threat posed by WMD? SISON: It is quite obvious that Iraq does not have the weapons of mass destruction. The United States knows this. That is why it is in a rush to launch a war of aggression in order to grab the oil resources of Iraq and install a U.S. colonial administration.
The claim of Bush that the United States must go to war to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is pure hogwash. His logic and bravado should bring him to war with India, Pakistan, China and Russia. But he will not go to war with any of these countries precisely because they have nuclear weapons. The best way to eliminate the threat posed by WMD is to generate within imperialist countries revolutionary movements of the people that can paralyse the use of these weapons by the imperialists and that can ultimately do away with these upon the global victory of socialism. The people cannot be absolutely safe from WMD until they can do away with the system of the imperialists.
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