Geneva Workers University Cancels Secretary Bello Meeting With Filipino Community
Labour Secretary Silvestre Bello’s meeting with the Filipino community in Geneva, Switzerland was abruptly cancelled when civil society groups petitioned the authorities of the Université Ouvrière de Genève (UOG) composed of trade union organisations to reconsider its decision to have the event organised by the POLO at the University auditorium.
In a letter to the University authorities, the Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns (GFPC) appealed to the directors of the university to reconsider the authorisation for the meeting and cancel the event. They said, “As the UOG is a worker’s university that was founded on social justice and equality, -- to allow a representative of the Duterte government which has been accused for crimes against humanity would only bring the UOG's name into bad repute and would only serve to legitimize this tyrannical and brutal regime”.
An Athens-based Filipino migrant group, KASAPI HELLAS- the Union of Filipino Migrant Workers in Greece expressed its support to GFPC. It said in its letter to UOG, “We fully agree with the content of the letter of Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns. Indeed, the tragic situation in the Philippines is a matter of grave concern of all peoples, who care for justice, workers’ human rights. We believe that hosting Sec. Bello, who represents a repressive regime will be grossly inconsistent with the values and principles adhered to by the UOG”.
In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) and the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) wrote an endorsement letter saying “Our opinion coincides fully with GFPC. Allowing a representative of the Duterte administration to speak at the reputable Université Ouvrière de Genève would only lend legitimacy to the Philippine President’s War on Drugs cornerstone program, the only one seriously implemented and violently pursued and his adamant pursuit of Dictatorship in the Philippines. We must together face the fact that Duterte has put in place a permission structure for mass murder, a de facto social cleansing policy hereby he has effectively defined a particular section of Philippine society as the inconvenient sector worthy of elimination. This 'kill society’s undesired' program has resulted in the deaths of over 20,000 impoverished Filipinos and brought the rules of impunity to a whole different level.”
In its e-mail reply to the GFPC letter, UOG Secretary-General, Christophe Guillaume wrote, “I confirm that the UOG has done what is necessary to cancel the reservation made by the Mission of the Philippines for this Sunday, June 3 and that, therefore, the conference of Silvestre Bello will not take place within our walls.”
Bello, who is here in Geneva for the annual 107th Session of International Labour Conference meeting was scheduled to meet the Filipino community last Sunday, 3 June at 3 – 5 pm at the Université Ouvrière de Genève.
For information, contact:
Geneva Forum for Philippine Concerns,
36 rue de Zurich
1201 Geneva, Switzerland
Tel: 0041-22 7385026