11 Backpackers Tortured

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11 Backpackers - Tortured! February 27, 2006 Monday

11 Backpackers - Tortured!

This is a very compelling issue that needs immediate action. This story is 2 weeks too late. I feel terribly bad that it has taken me this long to react to it.

Background
On Feb. 14, 2006, along the Halsema Highway, 11 backpackers including a 15-year-old girl, were detained, arrested and tortured by military elements on false accusation that they were members of the New People’s Army rebels that attacked Camp Cabilen the day before, killing two soldiers and a militia man. The backpackers belonged to the Punk's Not Dead crusade and were hitching their way on a dumptruck from Baguio to Sagada when the incident happened.

e-Groups
Word spread fast within the e-groups of various outdoor orgs about the torture. Mountaineers, mountain bikers, sport climbers and hikers discussed the ramification of the incident within their community and their concern for the current conditions of the detainees. There was a lot of buzz and talk.

Punks to the Rescue
While all this talk and speculation was happening, 30 of the punk contingent from Pangasinan, Metro Manila, Tarlac, Laguna and Davao City setup camp in Benguet demanding the release of the backpackers, who were still detained at the provincial jail. I tip my hat off to them for taking care of their own.

We're All in this Together
This is definitely not just a punk issue. Since the punks were arrested while backpacking along a popular stretch of road frequented by outdoor people, the military could easily have picked us up instead. A backpacker issue is a mountaineer issue is a mountain biker issue is a hiker issue, etc. Let us rally behind our backpacker breathren by doing what we can....in anyway we can.

Petition (lifted from e-group forums)
As the Sagada 11 group's friends, comrades, fellow musicians, and peace-loving people who respect human rights, we demand for:

  1. The immediate and unconditional release of the Sagada 11
  2. A public apology to be issued to the victims and their families
  3. The termination of the responsible people from their duties as police officers and government workers, whether they are directly or indirectly involved.

FREE THE SAGADA 11!
STOP POLICE REPRESSION AND BUTALITY!
RESPECT HUMAN RIGHTS!

Please go to this link and sign the petition for the release of the Sagada 11. Together, we can make a difference:
http://www.petitiononline.com/sagada/petition.html

Write to: Jail Warden James Simon, Benguet Provincial Jail, Justice Hill, La Trinidad, Benguet 2601, Philippines

--- TheLoneRider

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