Deported Dutch activist: 'I don't regret it'
MANILA, Philippines – Apprehensive but calm. This was how the lawyer of the 20-year-old Dutch activist Thomas van Beersum described his client as he went through the deportation process.
"He was calm during the entire time that he was in the BI (Bureau of Immigration) office, and took everything in stride, taking into consideration his situation," according to Atty Rey Cortez of the National Union of Peoples' Lawyers (NUPL), who acted as Beersum's lawyer during his ordeal.
Escorted by BI officers, Beersum boarded Cathay Pacific flight CX900 bound for Hongkong at 12:30 pm, August 7. From Hongkong, he will fly to Amsterdam in The Netherlands, his country.
For almost 30 hours, Beersum stayed at the holding area of the BI after he was prevented from flying out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Tuesday morning, August 6.
"He was able to eat. He was allowed to speak to his embassy, to his lawyer. He was even visited by his lawyer," Atty Tonette Mangrobang, BI spokesperson, told Rappler.
He is now blacklisted from entering Philippine soil for overstaying and violating the conditions of his tourist visa, making him an "undesirable alien," Mangrobang said.
"If you're a tourist, your purpose in the country must be for either pleasure, business, or health. The activities he did did not fall under those conditions," according to Mangrobang.
'I don't regret it'
But Beersum stood his ground. He remained confident he did not do anything wrong.
“I will still support protesters in my simple way as a human being, and I don’t regret it,” Beersum said before he left the country.
While on layover in Hongkong, Beersum posted on his Facebook account: "Although I've been blacklisted, I will still firmly support the just struggle of the Filipino people for social and national liberation. Mabuhay (Long Live)!
Violation of international law
During his stay, he attended an anti-State of the Nation Address (SONA) rally on July 22 near the Batasan complex, where he was photographed confronting PO1 Joselito Sevilla. The cop cried and photos and videos of the incident became viral.
“You are the ones that are hurting us! You started this conflict! Why are you doing this?” the young activist recalled telling the cop in a public letter he posted on his Facebook account.
Beersum was in the country to attend an international conference on human rights and peace.
The NUPL denounced Beersum's deportation, saying that it was a violation of international law.
"Though this may seem 'unpopular' or 'disagreeable' to others who are mostly unwittingly agitated by the jingoist demonization of a young foreigner whose candid views and youthful zeal sincerely questioned government's claims – even quite emphatically, the singular incident at the SONA rally obscures the real and more fundamental issues," Atty Edre Olalia, NUPL secretary general, said in a statement.
According to Olalia, Beersum did not surrender his right to freedom of expression at the immigration area. – Rappler.con