Solidarity for the Survivors of Typhoon Haiyan
Marking Human Rights Day:
VANCOUVER–Braving the cold December weather, at least 40 Filipinos and Canadians held lighted candles at the vigil as a demonstration of solidarity with the people of the Philippines last December 7. It was also an occasion to remember the Filipinos who died, were displaced and are homeless and hungry. Lighted candles on the pavement pointed to the cardboard signs that declared: “Relief Operation, not militarization!and “No to corruption, all aid must go directly to affected communities!” and “No to militarization!”
Above the traffic noise, the Solidarity Notes Labour Choir with choir conductor Earle Peach offered their gift of solidarity through their presence and their songs — the Tagalog version of “El pueblo unido” and a couple of justice songs.
Tom MacKenzie of the Alliance for People’s Health read the statement that denounced state of relief and rehabilitation efforts in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the relief efforts are hampered by endemic corruption in the Philippine government; the insistence of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in continuing its ‘counter-insurgency’ which targets peasant communities and progressive organizations even in areas severely affected by the Typhoon; and the U.S. agenda to re-establish a military presence in the Philippines under cover of the relief efforts.
Beth Dollaga of the Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights read the urgent call for mobilization by Bayan of all its chapters and groups in the Philippines and overseas for the relief efforts.
Aiyanas Ormond of the Canadian chapter of the International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) and the Alliance for People’s Health (APH) announced that donations were welcome for a medical mission to the Philippines by the APH and also called for the release of one of the many political prisoners in the Philippines, Zara Velasco. Philippine political prisoners were on their second week of fasting to call for the release of political prisoners.
Among the crowd were friends from the Sunnyside United Church, Filipino temporary foreign workers and caregivers, Migrante members, PANCIT art collective, and the members of the organizing groups of the ILPS-Canada, the Alliance for People’s Health, the Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Migrante BC and supporters from the Solidarity Notes Labour Choir of the Vancouver and Labour District Council.
The vigil was an early reminder of International Human Rights Day on December 10th. The vigil ended with strong chanting of “Ang tao, ang bayan, ngayon ay lumalaban!” in Tagalog, Spanish and English.