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Details of torture of Filipino activist in San Francisco airport

By staff |
April 24, 2018
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Chicago protest demands justice for Jerome.
Chicago protest demands justice for Jerome. (Fight Back! News/staff)

Chicago, IL - In a press conference Saturday morning, April 21, in the Philippines, Jerome Aladdin Succor Aba spoke about the 28 hours of torture he suffered by an agent of Homeland Security inside the San Francisco airport earlier last week.

Jerome, a 25-year-old Moro, or Filipino Muslim, is a highly respected peace and human rights leader. He was invited by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Global Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas to speak on the movement for peace in the Philippines at the Ecumenical Advocacy Days, one of the largest gatherings of faith-based groups in the U.S. taking place over the April 21 and 22 weekend in Washington D.C.

He was seized in customs, held incommunicado for 28 hours, and subjected to interrogation during which he was forced to strip naked in a cold room in front of an industrial fan and threatened with death. Jerome was offered no food other than ham, and wasn’t allowed to sleep after a trans-continental flight. At one point, a gun and a hand grenade were left on the table in the room while agents left him alone with them.

U.S. democracy a lie

At the protest rally for Justice for Jerome held in Chicago on Friday, April 20, Ligaya McGovern, a sociology professor from Indiana University, spoke out for justice for Jerome. Explaining she had met Jerome last year when she was in the Philippines, she said, “I was researching the effects of multinational corporate mining on indigenous communities. Jerome is a leader in Sandugo, an alliance of Moro and Indigenous Peoples. I heard Jerome speak so eloquently about human rights and social justice at an encampment in the University of the Philippines where more than 2000 indigenous people temporarily lived during their caravan to Metro Manila to defend their right to ancestral lands, which they are rapidly losing to transnational corporations and due to militarization and forced evacuations.”

McGovern was so upset when she learned that Aba was held incommunicado by Customs and Border Patrol that she could not sleep. “The U.S. claims to be the most democratic country in the world. This government even goes to war to impose democracy on others. Where is the security of people in this country, that a human rights activist can be treated as a combatant by Homeland Security? It’s shocking.”

Click here for a video about Jerome’s case.