Paintings by Voltaire Guray
As of June 2017, over 400 political prisoners are detained in prisons in the Philippines. Often, political prisoners are activists and revolutionaries targeted for their criticisms of the government. Illegally arrested under false or trumped up charges, they endure physical & mental torture and interrogation. In the exhibit Sa Timyas ng Paglaya (In the Spirit of Genuine Freedom), which opened July 27th at E.M. Wolfman General Interest Bookstore, artwork by six Filipino political prisoners share their expressions of resistance and struggles for land, human rights and the Filipino people’s self-determination.
Miss ko na ang (i miss you) by Eduardo Sarmiento
Hosted by GABRIELA San Francisco, an international chapter of GABRIELA USA and part of the National Democratic Movement in the Philippines, the group was able to obtain artwork through Karapatan, a human rights organization and SELDA (acronym in Filipino of an organization of former and current political prisoners).
GABRIELA San Francisco is a grassroots organization struggling for the liberation of Filipino women, children, queer and gender non-conforming people. With the exhibit, the organization aims to highlight the repression and silencing of the state, as well as the resistance and resilience of political prisoners who have been doing the same work we have.
Tanaw mula sa selda (View from cell) by Gerald Salonga
Peace Wall Daw (Peace Wall, They Said) by Alan Jazmines
The artwork of 21-year-old activist Voltaire Guray – arrested in January 2012 and released earlier this year – highlights the dark and surreal conditions with which political prisoners, such as himself, are subjected to on a daily basis. His “Lumad” series features striking portraits of indigenous people of Mindanao, one of the largest islands in the Philippines, who have worked to protect their ancestral lands from state-run and private mining and logging corporations.
Sigaw (Cry) by Gerald Solanga
Under the recent declaration and extension of martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2017 by President Duterte, the Lumad have become targets of the armed forces, the paramilitary groups and have been forced to evacuate their land. As activists themselves, the Lumad people have become vulnerable to harassment and detention.
Taysan by Maricon Montajes
Continuing the near-daily aerial bombings, security checkpoints, curfews, and writ of habeas corpus (which protects an individual’s freedom by requiring a reason for detention), martial law with its increasing direct military control over government makes room for continued illegal arrests, human rights abuses, and authoritarian rule by the state. Historically, martial law has been declared in different parts of the Philippines with the longest lasting from 1972 to 1981 under the Marcos administration. During that time, 70,000 people were imprisoned, 34,000 tortured, 3,200 killed, and 400 disappeared. Under Duterte’s martial law, already 300,000 have been displaced and 369 killed in Marawi alone as of June 23, 2017.
Kapirasong Langit (Piece of Heaven) by Eduardo Sarmiento
Martial law in the Philippines also comes at a critical time when the government is in the midst of peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines, the revolutionary united front organization of the Filipino people. The peace negotiations seek to end the ongoing armed conflict in the country between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the armed members of the Communist People’s Party of the Philippines, the New People’s Army, and National Democratic Front of the Philippines, by identifying and resolving the root causes of the conflict. More information can be found at justpeace.ph.
EDSA Noon at Ngayon (People Power Revolution, Then & Now) by Alan Jazmines
Sa Timyas ng Paglaya (In the Spirit of Genuine Freedom) will be on view at E.M. Wolfman until the closing party on August 25th. Proceeds from purchased artworks – including the art on display, as well as select prints, postcards and stickers – will go towards organizations like Karapatan (karapatan.org) supporting political prisoners and communities currently impacted by martial law.