Yoshii Serves as Juror at People's International Tribunal
July 28, 2015
The Rev. Michael Yoshii, Alameda Buena Vista UMC, was one of the seven human rights specialists chosen as juror for the People’s International Tribunal (IPT) 2015 held in Washington D.C., from July 16 to 18.
A coalition of people’s rights organizations - National Lawyers Guild, International Association of Democratic Lawyers, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, and IBON International - convened the IPT to spotlight violations of international law committed against the Filipino people by Philippines President Benigno Simeon Aquino III and the U.S. government as represented by President Barack Obama. In two days, thirty-six witnesses gave testimony. Most witnesses came from the Philippines in person to testify, risking retribution to themselves and their loved ones. Some shared their stories remotely via Skype or testified on video recording.
First hand reports of torture, enforced disappearances, and extrajudicial killings by the Philippine Military and private paramilitary troops, with no attempts by the government to prosecute perpetrators, revealed a pattern of deliberate human rights violations. The jury declared a “guilty” verdict on July 18. Some participants served the verdict to the White House and the Philippine Embassy on July 20.
The Rev. Felicisimo Cao, Vallejo Wayside UMC, and Jean Reynolds, member of Richmond First UMC, heard the testimony and verdict. Yoshii, Cao, and Reynolds are members of the California-Nevada Philippine Solidarity Task Force. Transcripts and video of the IPT are available online, click here.
One witness, Melissa Roxas, recalled her 2009 abduction and six days of torture. She is the first U.S. citizen illegally seized and held by soldiers of the Philippine military. Her abductors demanded she confess to being a Communist and a member of the New People’s Army. In July 2009, Bishop Warner Brown, Jr. led the delegation of the California-Nevada Philippine Solidarity Task Force: they accompanied Melissa when she returned to the Philippines to testify.