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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