Eleven Nobel Peace Prize winners have raised their voices to urge President Ferdinand Marcos to ensure justice and a fair trial to their fellow laureate, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa. Ressa, they say, has been “subjected to a rash of arrests, indictments, and prison sentences that we can only classify as political persecution.”
The signers on the open letter, which is available on The Democracy Report (thedemocracyreport.com), include all three 2022 Nobel Peace Prize laureates – Oleksandra Matviichuk from the Ukrainian Center for Civil Liberties, and Jan Rachinsky of Russian human rights group Memorial. Ales Viktaravich Bialiatski, a political prisoner in Belarus, is represented by his wife, Natalia Pichuk. Dmitry Muratov, who received the Nobel Peace Prize with Ressa in 2021, also contributed a video, where he asked President Marcos to consider, in viewing the charges against Ressa, how he wishes to be remembered by history.
A ruling is expected this week on charges of tax evasion against both Ressa and her online news site, Rappler. The charges stem from a reclassification of the company from a news outlet to a “seller of securities.” These will be followed by other charges, including being a foreign agent by receiving investment from an American investor, and “cyber libel” for an article suggesting that a Supreme Court justice had received financial favors from a local businessman. If found guilty on all charges, she could be sentenced to more than 100 years in prison.
The Nobel laureates are encouraged by Marcos’s campaign promises to unite and heal the Philippines, and say they “hope to watch the Philippines move into a new day under its new leadership, as it leaves the mistakes of its past behind.”
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