PRESS RELEASE: Rally Outside Trump Hotel in D.C. Today Featured Participants as Putin, Duterte, Kim Jong-un and Other Authoritarian Leaders Holding Trump Puppets

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: October 27, 2020

CONTACT:        David Borden, (202) 236-8620, borden@drcnet.org
                          Eric Lachica, (202) 246-1998, us.filipinos.dc@gmail.com

Rally Outside Trump Hotel in D.C. Today Featured
Participants as Putin, Duterte, Kim Jong-un and Other Authoritarian Leaders Holding Trump Puppets
New Video Profiles Trump Support of Duterte's Deadly Drug War

Today in front of Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. advocates under the banner Stand with Human Rights and Democracy gathered for an "Autocrat Fair," warning of a rise in authoritarianism around the world. Participants wore protest masks representing eight foreign autocrats including: Putin (Russia), Erdogan (Turkey), Duterte (Philippines), Kim (North Korea), Orban (Hungary), bin Salman (Saudi Arabia), bin Zayed (UAE) and Bolsonaro (Brazil). (Watch the full rally on NowThis Politics here.)

Each autocrat figure held a marionette of U.S. President Donald Trump, representing the idea that foreign autocrats are able to manipulate Trump for their benefit. A ninth person represented Trump himself as the autocrat, manipulating the GOP. (Downloadable photos and videos of today's rally are available here.)

Campaign founder David Borden told the rally: "These autocrats all have in common their relationships with Donald Trump, who despite his ability to corrupt the norms and institutions of our own country, is weak on the world stage." Borden said the campaign calls for "heightened international action for human rights," supports "laws like the Global Magnitsky Act, that hold rights abusing officials accountable without harming their peoples' economies," and "calls for an immediate end to the Trump administration's sanctions against the International Criminal Court and its staff."

The Autocrat Fair was co-organized by Movement for a Free Philippines; and StoptheDrugWar.org (led by Borden), which has advocated since 2017 for a stop to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's extrajudicial drug war killings. The Stand with Human Rights and Democracy campaign also released a video today entitled Trump and Duterte – Allies in Violence, that can be seen here. It highlights Duterte talking about his drug war killings, Trump encouraging violence, and the connection between the two.

Maurese Oteyza-Owens of Movement for a Free Philippines told the rally: "President Duterte campaigned on a promise to kill hundreds of thousands of drug law violators, and a massive campaign of extrajudicial killings began immediately on his taking office in 2016."  Oteyza-Owens noted the continuing imprisonment of Philippine Senator Leila de Lima and the persecution of Rappler publisher Maria Ressa.

Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland released a statement for the rally, which said: "President Duterte is one of many authoritarians – from Bolsonaro in Brazil, Erdogan in Turkey, Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and Putin in Russia – who are exploiting the global pandemic crisis to violate human rights, attack democracy, consolidate executive power, and criminalize basic freedoms of speech and assembly…President Trump and his Administration have cozied up to all these bullies and enemies of freedom and democracy while turning a blind eye to victims of their violence and tyranny." The statement also highlights Raskin's co-sponsorship of the Philippines Human Rights Act of 2020.

Democracy for the Arab World Now (DAWN), which was founded in 2018 by journalist Jamal Khashoggi three months before he was assassinated in the Saudi embassy in Istanbul, also provided a statement for today's rally: "President Trump has called the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) a 'friend.' Jared Kushner has called him a 'good ally' of the United States. MBS is something else too – the brutal dictator of Saudi Arabia who has waged war against his people at home, and caused the largest humanitarian crisis in the world [Yemen]. " The full DAWN statement can be seen here.

Stand with Human Rights and Democracy grows out of work organizers have done to focus world attention on President Duterte's extrajudicial drug war killings. Human rights organizations estimate that at least 30,000 people have been killed in Duterte's drug war. President Trump praised Duterte's drug war post-election in 2016 and again in April 2017.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) is currently conducting preliminary examinations of human rights situations in nine countries, including the Philippines. Duterte transmitted notice of the Philippines' withdrawal from the ICC's Rome Treaty in March 2018, following shortly after ICC Prosecutor Bensouda announced her office's Philippines examination. The withdrawal became effective a year later, but doesn't limit the Court's jurisdiction over crimes committed before that date.

Today’s Autocrat Fair featured signs displaying Duterte quotes about killings; as well as a tenth autocrat figure representing China's Xi Jinping holding a Duterte marionette – a current resonant image in Philippine politics.

"The Philippines under Duterte has been the world's premiere laboratory for authoritarian strongmen using demonization and social media manipulation to advance their goals," said longtime Filipino American advocate Eric Lachica, speaking for Movement for a Free Philippines. "Duterte is following in the footsteps of his idol, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and has also called for Trump's reelection."

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Statement of Rep. Jamie Raskin, US Congress

Statement of Rep. Jamie Raskin, US Congress
provided for "Autocrat Fair," event of the Stand with Human Rights and Democracy campaign
October 27, 2020

I'm proud to co-sponsor H.R. 8313, the Philippines Human Rights Act of 2020. This bill imposes limitations on providing assistance to the police or military of the Philippines until the government investigates and holds accountable individuals responsible for the systematic human rights violations occurring under the false pretenses of a "drug war." Until President Duterte stops sending his forces to commit extrajudicial killings, the U.S. should stop sending military or police assistance.

President Duterte is one of many authoritarians—from Bolsonaro in Brazil, Erdogan in Turkey, Mohammed Bin Salman in Saudi Arabia and Putin in Russia—who are exploiting the global pandemic crisis to violate human rights, attack democracy, consolidate executive power, and criminalize basic freedoms of speech and assembly. President Trump and his Administration have cozied up to all these bullies and enemies of freedom and democracy while turning a blind eye to victims of their violence and tyranny.

It is incumbent that we in Congress stand strong against authoritarians and autocrats the world over. While I cannot be physically with you today, I commend your campaign to "stand with human rights and democracy," and thank you for peacefully exercising your rights to make your voices heard. Together, we can successfully defend human rights and democracy around the world.


Invitation: Autocrat Fair, Tuesday October 27, Noon, DC

Autocrat Fair

first event of "Stand with Human Rights and Democracy"
Tuesday October 27, noon Eastern Time
outside Trump International Hotel in Washington, DC

Please join us for Autocrat Fair, first event of Stand with Human Rights and Democracy. We will gather in front of the Trump Hotel in downtown Washington, to warn about the rise in global authoritarianism.  We will start at exactly noon on Tuesday, October 27.  Please RSVP here or email borden@drcnet.org or us.filipinos.dc@gmail.com.

(Strict mask-wearing and six-foot social distancing required.)

Autocrat Fair will feature protest mask figures of ten autocratic world leaders, eight of them holding a Trump marionette and pulling its strings, representing President Trump's weakness on the world stage and his willingness to subordinate US interests to his personal interests. Visit https://DemocracyStand.global for more info.

Autocrat Fair is organized by Movement for a Free Philippines, and by StoptheDrugWar.org, an organization focused on President Rodrigo Duterte's extrajudicial drug war killings in the Philippines in which more than 30,000 people have been killed since 2016.  Trump has praised Duterte's drug war two times, and the Manila Trump Tower came up in the recent New York Times story on Trump's tax returns.

Stand with Human Rights and Democracy also supports the International Criminal Court, and calls for an end to the Trump administration's sanctions against the court and its staff. The ICC is in the late stages of a Preliminary Examination of the Philippine drug war.

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The Autocrats

The Autocrats

 

Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil

President Jair Bolsonaro has advocated torture, and has praised Philippine President Duterte's extrajudicial drug war killings.  His term has been marked by a wide range of human rights abuses.  He has pardoned police convicted for illegal use of force, and undermined attempts to end torture in the nation's prisons.

He has harassed independent media and restricted access to government information.  Deforestation of the Amazon has gone up more than 80% under Bolsonaro, following the gutting of environmental enforcement budgets.  During his campaign, Bolsonaro praised the days of Brazil's military dictatorship.  Extrajudicial killings in Brazil have risen during his term.

Trump invited Bolsonaro to the White House in 2019, and praised Bolsonaro effusively, saying he was "honored" by comparisons of Bolsonaro's presidential campaign to him.  He praised Bolsonaro's response to last year's massive Amazon fires, while other were blaming Bolsonaro for allowing fires to rage so the forests could be logged.  Bolsonaro has endorsed Trump's reelection.

 

Rodrigo Duterte, Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte campaigned on the promise to kill hundreds of thousands of drug law violators.  A massive extrajudicial killing campaign commenced immediately on his taking office in 2016, with human rights organizations estimated the number of victims as at least 30,000.  His term has also been marked by attacks on media outlets and contrived legal cases against opposition leaders.

Shortly after being elected, Duterte called President Barack Obama a "son of a whore," following Obama's criticism of Duterte's drug war killings, prompting the White House to cancel a planned meeting between the two leaders.  In 2017 Trump met with Duterte at the ASEAN Summit, appearing hand-in-hand with Duterte at the summit's opening.

Trump has praised Duterte's drug war two times, and expressed a desire to host him in the White House.  The Manila Trump Tower figured prominently in the recent New York Times story on Trump's taxes, and Duterte appointed the businessman who made the Trump Tower deal a special envoy to the US.

 

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey

In 2019, Trump abruptly ordered the withdrawal of US troops from Syria's border from Turkey, paving the way for Turkish troops to invade.  The move altered years of US policy, and blindsided US defense officials.  Turkey's subsequent invasion and bombing displaced 200,000 Kurds.  Kurdish forces fought for the US in Iraq, and relied on US protection.

In 2017, Erdogan bodyguards in Washington, DC beat Kurdish protesters in Sheridan Circle near the Turkish Embassy.  The US government waited for a month before taking legal action, only filing charges against two of them after the House of Representatives passed a resolution calling for charges.  The charges were dropped a short time later, in advance of a high-level meeting between Erdoğan and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

President Erdoğan has made use of Islamism to move Turkey in an authoritarian direction.  His time in office has been marked by a one-man rule approach including the jailing of critics, state control over media outlets, and the abolishing or neutralizing of other institutions of power in the country.

Trump's decision to withdraw US troops is reported to have been made "instinctively" following a phone call with Erdogan.  There are two adjoining Trump Towers in the Şişli district of Istanbul, one business and residential.

 

Kim Jong-un, North Korea

North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un leads a cult-of-personality regime that is one of the world's most repressive regimes.  His time in office has been marked by purges, assassinations of family members and other potential rivals, and and expansion of the poverty-stricken nation's nuclear weapons program.

Trump has touted a "good relationship" with Kim, and hoped that Kim would end the North Korean nuclear weapons program because of the relationship.  He has held two direct meetings with Kim, that were criticized by the foreign policy establishment as lacking preparation or strategy.

Domestically these meetings were propaganda coups for the Kim government, whose state-owned media outlets ran footage of them for days.  Kim however, failed to provide meaningful concessions, only closing a reactor that was already past its useful lifespan.  Trump continues to talk about the good relationship he enjoys with the brutal dictator.

 

Viktor Orban, Hungary

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban is broadly condemned as having destroyed Hungary's democracy, destroying the free press and attacking civil society and academia.  Trump has praised Orban on multiple occasions, and in 2019 invited him to the White House, breaking with a long US practice of ostracizing him.  Trump claimed that Orban is "respected all over Europe," adding "like me, [he's] a little bit controversial."

Orban, with Putin worked to undermine the Ukrainian government's standing with Trump. Orban's efforts to paint the government as hopelessly corrupt coincided with Trump's attempts to pressure Ukraine into manufacturing legal controversies involving then-prospective presidential candidate Joe Biden and his family.

 

Vladimir Putin, Russia

President Putin's manipulations of Donald Trump are as uncountable as his authoritarian outrages.  The authoritarian leader destroyed Russia's fledgling democracy, has assassinated critics and other opponents, and controls Russian media.

President Trump has engaged in denialism over 2016 and continuing Kremlin interference in US elections, despite US and foreign intelligence agencies concluding the Kremlin did interfere and did so to benefit Trump.  Trump has ignored or denied intelligence findings that Russia paid bounties to the Taliban for killing US soldiers in Afghanistan.  Trump has stayed quiet about the poisoning of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny, despite other parts of his administration condemning the poisoning.

While Trump has denied taking Russian money for his businesses, Donald Trump Jr. has said Russian money plays a disproportionate role for them.

 

Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, known as "MBS," was initially viewed as a social reformer after taking power.  But MBS drew widespread international condemnation in 2018 following the murder of Saudi-born US resident and Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, in the Saudi Embassy in Istanbul.

In an interview with Bob Woodward for the book Rage, Trump reportedly bragged about protecting bin Salman from Congressional scrutiny.  Trump told Woodward he didn't believe MBS had ordered the assassination of Khashoggi, despite conclusions by US and foreign intelligence agencies that he had.  Shortly after the murder, Trump authorized $8 billion in US arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, vetoing three Congressional resolutions to block the sale, and another that would have blocked continuing US support to the much-criticized Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

MBS cultivated a relationship with Trump son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner, and bragged that he had Kushner "in his pocket."  Staffers at the US Embassy in Riyadh have raised concerns over being kept in the dark about details of Kushner's meetings with members of the Saudi royal court.  The Saudi government has been paying money to Trump hotels since he took office.

 

Mohammed bin Zayed, United Arab Emirates

In June 2017, the United Emirates under Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ), with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Egypt imposed a blockade on the country of Qatar.  The Trump administration, initially reported to be divided about the matter, decided to support the blockade, departing from long-running US policy toward Qatar, a military and economic ally of the US.

The blockade followed an April meeting between the Kushner family business and Qatar's Minister of Finance, in which Qatar declined to provided financing to rescue the Kushner family's struggling 666 5th Avenue office building in New York.

The UAE under MBZ has grown increasing authoritarian, as the government increases its hostility toward criticism and restricts digital freedoms.  British PhD student Matthew Hedges was detained for six months over accusations of spying, much of the time in solitary confinement and suffering other bad living conditions.

Trump has pursued business opportunities in the UAE since 2005, and a private real estate conglomerate in 2013 made a deal to build a $6 billion Trump-branded golf club. A second club is in development. The UAE was exempted from the Trump administration's infamous travel ban targeting most Muslim countries.

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Media Advisory: Putin, Duterte, and Kim Jong-un Among Authoritarian Leaders to Be Featured Holding Trump Puppets at Tuesday Rally

MEDIA ADVISORY & Photo-Op: Tuesday, October 27, Noon ET, Washington, D.C.

CONTACT: David Borden, borden@drcnet.org | Eric Lachica, us.filipinos.dc@gmail.com

 

Putin, Duterte, and Kim Jong-un Among Authoritarian Leaders to Be Featured Holding Trump Puppets at Tuesday Rally

Photo-Op at Trump International Hotel, Tuesday, October 27, Noon ET

 

On Tuesday, October 27, advocates organized under the banner “Stand with Human Rights and Democracy” will gather (socially distanced) at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C.  for an “Autocrat Fair,” warning of a rise in authoritarianism around the world.  Participants will be wearing masks representing eight foreign autocrats including: Putin (Russia), Erdogan (Turkey), Duterte (Philippines), Kim (North Korea), Orban (Hungary), bin Salman (Saudi Arabia), bin Zayed (UAE) and Bolsonaro (Brazil).  They will each be holding a Trump marionette (see photo mock-up below).  A ninth mask will represent Trump himself as the autocrat, manipulating the GOP.

WHAT: Autocrat Fair calling for heightened international action to defend human rights and democracy

WHEN: Noon Eastern Time, Tuesday October 27, 2020

WHERE: Outside Trump International Hotel, 1100 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC

WHO: Movement for a Free Philippines, StoptheDrugWar.org, Stand with Human Rights and Democracy/Global Campaign for the Philippines

Background

Stand with Human Rights and Democracy grows out of work the organizers have done to focus world attention on the human rights situation in the Philippines since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, promising to kill hundreds of thousands of low-level drug law violators.  Human rights organizations estimate that at least 30,000 people have been killed in Duterte’s drug war.  President Trump praised Duterte’s drug war post-election in 2016 and again in April 2017.  The Autocrat Fair will link to Philippines issues through signs displaying Duterte quotes about killings; and with a tenth autocrat figure representing China’s Xi Jinping holding a Duterte marionette – a currently resonant image in Philippine politics.

The gathering will also call for an end to the Trump administration’s sanctions against the International Criminal Court.  The ICC is currently conducting preliminary examinations of human rights situations in nine countries, including the Philippines.  Duterte transmitted notice of the Philippines’ withdrawal from the ICC’s Rome Treaty in March 2018, following shortly after ICC Prosecutor Bensouda announced her office’s Philippines examination.  The withdrawal became effective a year later, but doesn’t limit the Court’s jurisdiction over crimes committed before that date.

Longtime Filipino American advocate Eric Lachica said, “The Philippines under Duterte has been the world’s premiere laboratory for authoritarian strongmen using demonization and social media manipulation to advance their goals.  Duterte is following in the footsteps of his idol, the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, and has also called for Trump’s reelection.”

Campaign founder David Borden added, “People need to come together across societies and political boundaries to address the challenges faced by global human rights and democracy, and support the institutions built to defend them.”

Partial mock-up of Tuesday’s Photo-Op including six of the foreign autocrats:

Click here for more photos of our protest art.