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Death threats against activists
Why Walden Bello needs your support

February 25, 2005 | Page 7

EDUARDO CAPULONG reports on the international campaign to defend Walden Bello and other activists in the Philippines.

THE COMMUNIST Party of the Philippines (CPP) has issued death threats against Walden Bello, a leading voice of the global justice movement, and other Filipino activists.

Last December, a CPP article branded a number of activists as "counterrevolutionary"--among them Bello, Liddy Nacpil, Etta Rosales, Sonny Melencio and Popoy Lagman. The article would have been laughable sectarianism were it not the case that some of the individuals named (such as Lagman) have already been assassinated (the CPP denies responsibility for Lagman's killing, but claims responsibility in other cases).

Some of the named individuals very well may have parted ways with the left, but one thing is clear: all have broken politically with the CPP. Indeed, an accompanying diagram suggests that most, if not all, of these so-called "petty-bourgeois reformist and pseudo-revolutionary groups" belong to the "rejectionist" bloc--activists who, in the early 1990s, rejected or criticized the CPP's Maoist strategy of militarily seizing power by "encircling the cities from the countryside."

The CPP denies that the diagram is a hit list. CPP leader Jose Ma. Sison maintains that those with mere ideological differences have nothing to fear. "But it is another matter," he continues in a response letter, "if for example there is a criminal complaint with sufficient evidence that Bello is receiving imperialist funds not only for holding conferences and issuing publications but for organizing groups dedicated to intelligence and psywar for the imperialists against the patriotic and progressive forces." Bello and the others, says Sison, are "agents," "highly paid" by "imperialist funding agencies," whose goal is nothing less than "the destruction of the CPP and the entire revolutionary movement of the people."

This is an outrageous accusation. Walden Bello is one of the most articulate and prolific voices on the international left. A prominent participant in World Social Forums, he has devoted most of his life to fighting imperialism and corporate globalization.

The CPP's attacks reveal a deadly intolerance for political competitors on the left. The message seems to be--if you don't agree with us and you try to assert political leadership, we will kill you.

Even if we were to accept its hollow denials, the CPP has already succeeded in sowing division in our movements and weakening us. The CPP should know--but perhaps must be reminded--that democratic debate and discussion, and unity in action, not thuggery, are the methods by which the left will prevail over war and injustice.

Because of his record, Bello has gained the support of hundreds of activists and organizations worldwide, among them Naomi Klein, Susan George, Europarliamentarian Vittorio Agnoletto, Tariq Ali, Medea Benjamin, ATTAC, 50 Years Is Enough, the Brazil Landless Movement (MST) and many others.

"[T]hose of us who dare follow a different path toward revolutionary change witness what the CPP leadership is doing with a mixture of deep sadness, frustration and anger," said human rights activist Liddy Nacpil. "They are squandering whatever gains and successes have been achieved in all these decades of well as [doing] terrible harm to the socialist cause."

Show your support for Walden, Liddy and other Filipino activists, and tell the CPP and its allied organizations that its methods are unacceptable.

Read more about the defense campaign at the Web site for Focus on the Global South.

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