Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pinoy Communist Riot

No Super Champ Burgers for you!

Police clash with activists protesting arrest of Philippine communist leader

Philippine police used truncheons and shields to beat back some 100 left-wing activists who tried to march to the Dutch Embassy on Thursday to protest the arrest of a Philippine communist leader in the Netherlands.

Rally organizers said their affiliates in the United States, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Australia, Canada and Europe launched similar protests against the arrest of Jose Maria Sison. They also called for a boycott of Dutch products until Sison is released from jail.

Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People's Army, was arrested Tuesday in the Netherlands for allegedly ordering the murders of two former allies in Manila.

The Philippines has braced for fallout from the arrest, with the military going on red alert as Sison's supporters vowed to intensify their insurgency. Leftist groups worried about a possible crackdown and all-out war.

Senior Superintendent Jaime Calungsod, the district police chief, said the rally had no permit. He ordered police to arrest organizers and confiscate their streamers and other rally materials. Negotiations averted arrests, but Calungsod said police will pursue illegal assembly charges.

Luis Jalandoni, chairman of the communist umbrella organization National Democratic Front, in a statement issued from the Netherlands, called the arrest "a conspiracy between the Dutch and Philippine governments" to force the NDF to capitulate in stalled peace negotiations with the government.

At least five protesters suffered bruises in a scuffle with police shortly after the start of Thursday's march, said Carl Ala, spokesman of the Philippine Peasants' Movement.

The activists demanded Sison's immediate release from jail in the central Dutch city of Utrecht, chanting "Arrest Gloria, not Joma," referring to President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Sison's nickname.

"The Arroyo government is sorely mistaken when it thinks that it can intimidate the people's movement for national liberation and democracy," said Carol Araullo, chairwoman of the left-wing group Bayan. "The whole world is seeing the insincerity of the Philippine government in pursuing the peace negotiations."