Greta Thunberg, climate activists join call to #JunkTerrorLaw

“The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 undermines constitutionally protected rights to political expression and dissent by equating activism with terrorist activities that are defined under the law.”

By MENCHANI TILENDO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — Swedish teen environmental activist Greta Thunberg and other international climate leaders pledged to support Filipino environmental defenders’ campaign against the newly-enacted Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.

“I stand in solidarity with the environmental activists in the Philippines. Junk the Anti-Terror Law now,” Thunberg said in a solidarity video message.

“The proposed Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 undermines constitutionally protected rights to political expression and dissent by equating activism with terrorist activities that are defined under the law,” Thunberg also wrote on her Instagram post.

Thunberg is joined by award-winning author and journalist Naomi Klein, Right Livelihood Award laureates Bill McKibben and Nnimmo Bassey, human rights group Global Witness campaigner Rachel Cox, and various other environmental leaders across the world in launching a global petition against the law. They maintained that the said law would worsen the already atrocious human rights situation in the Philippines, tagged as the world’s deadliest country for land and environmental defenders in 2019.

According to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, the Philippines is home to two-thirds of the earth’s biodiversity and between 70 percent and 80 percent of the world’s plant and animal species. The Asian Development Bank also assessed the Philippines to be the fifth most mineralized country in the world, with an estimated $840 trillion worth of mineral reserves beneath its small islands.

These natural riches attract destructive transnational mining companies, big logging and agribusiness, and infrastructures that are considered by government as ‘vital installations’ and ‘critical investments. With this undeniable ‘resource curse’ as context, the archipelagic nation was deemed the second most climate vulnerable country in the world last year in GermanWatch’s climate vulnerability index.

“In the first three years of the Duterte Administration, environmental defenders and advocates have been attacked in all fronts as they protect at least 6.2 million hectares of watershed forests, agricultural lands, coasts, and seas,” the petitioners stated.

With the law’s vague definition of terrorism, human rights defenders reiterate that Duterte’s Anti-Terror Council will even have greater room to identify, detain, and eliminate the administration’s dissenters and critics.

In 2019 alone, 47 environmental defenders were killed in the country, according to Kalikasan-People’s Network for the Environment.

“The Anti-Terrorism law’s provisions allowing detention up to 24 days without charges, warrantless arrests, and  the suppression of freedom of expression and right to privacy threatens the work of Filipino indigenous people, small farmers, artisanal fishers, forest workers, and environmental activists operating in one of the global frontlines of the ecological and climate crisis,” the petition read.

As of July 7, four days after the law was signed, at least eight groups in the Philippines filed petitions with the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of its provisions.

“In this era of runaway climate crisis and pandemics emerging from nature under siege, we have to resist laws that undermine our ability to protect our rights to a balanced and healthful ecology, and most especially, the right to life of everyone,” the petitioners said.()

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