Statement on Denial of Entry into United States of Filipino Civil Rights Advocate
We were surprised and disturbed to learn that Jerome Aba, a civil rights advocate from the Philippines, was detained at the San Francisco airport, held for 24 hours without access to a lawyer, and put on a plane back to his country by US Customs and Border Protection, despite having a valid visa to attend Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, DC and speak in several other US cities. Mr. Aba had been invited to the US by The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries and other religious organizations taking part in Ecumenical Advocacy Days, April 20-23.
Mr. Aba has been active in opposing the recent rise in killings and displacement of communities in the Philippines, especially in Mindanao, that has created a humanitarian and human rights crisis that targets the poor, indigenous and Moro communities, as well as human rights defenders. We were pleased to invite him to participate in a workshop at Ecumenical Advocacy Days in Washington, entitled, “Justice Uprooted: Widening Waves of Killings and Escalating Repression and Displacement in the Philippines—What Faith Communities in the US Can Do.”
That a human rights defender like Jerome Aba would be harshly mistreated and denied entry into the US with a valid visa underscores our concern about human rights everywhere. As people of faith we know that a threat to justice and dignity anywhere is a threat to us all and must be challenged. Our prayers are with Jerome, and we stand in solidarity with all who face violence and denial of their rights.
General Board of Global Ministries
The United Methodist Church