March 2010

Doctrine Divides, Action Unites

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Community Health Service Is NOT a Crime: Release the 43!
Necta Montes-Rocas

In the early hours of Feb. 6 this year, 300 soldiers and police officers in the Philippines raided a farmhouse in Morong in Rizal Province east of Manila where a health training workshop was taking place. They conducted a search of the premises without a proper search warrant and arrested 43 health workers. Among those arrested was Dr. Alexis Montes of the Community Medicine Development Foundation (COMMED), who was allegedly tortured into confessing that he was a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), the military wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

To protest the illegal arrest and detention and alleged torture of the health workers, the Hong Kong Campaign for Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP) held a demonstration at the Philippine consulate in Hong Kong on Feb. 18. Necta Montes-Rocas, a niece of Dr. Montes, spoke at the demonstration. [Read her remarks]

Alex Montes: A Doctor to the People, Hurt and Broken
Marya Salamat

Dr. Alex Montes, one of the 43 health workers arrested on Feb. 6, 2010, in the Philippines, is described in this profile as a doctor who used his medical training and knowledge to serve the health needs of the poor. This article also provides a summary of the ordeal the health workers experienced during their sudden arrest and subsequent detention in a military camp through his testimony at a habeas corpus hearing in the Court of Appeal on Feb. 15. Read more at .

Community Health Workers: Unsung Heroes of a Failed Health System
Arnold Padilla

The arrest of 43 health workers in the Philippines can only aggravate the current shortage of health care professionals in the country, according to this article, which will ultimately affect the lives of the poor. Read more about the crisis of health care in the Philippines at .

Child Labor in Nepal: Children without Childhoods
Laxmi Pathak

Child labor, however, cannot be viewed in isolation because this is a cause and consequence of the country’s socio-economic and political reality. Child labor is not a new phenomenon in agriculturally dominant countries, like Nepal. For years, it has remained a part of the feudal economy. Like other developing countries in South Asia, rural communities in Nepal live with social injustice, economic exploitation, deprivation and landlessness. Unemployment and unplanned urbanization have also contributed to an increase in the magnitude of the exploitation of child labor in the country. The constant poverty, unemployment and lack of basic needs in the villages force parents to send their children to work in the cities for additional income to ensure the subsistence of the family. [Read more]

Bangladesh Cracks Down on Burmese Muslim Refugees
Larry Jagan

“Since we were born, we have always been on the run!”
This view of life of one Rohingya refugee from Burma living now in Bangladesh could well be the sentiment of hundreds of thousands of Rohingyas who have sought refuge in Bangladesh. In recent weeks, the Bangladeshi government has indicated that the country is no longer a safe haven as refugees have faced beatings, rape, hunger and their greatest fear—deportation. Read the Mizzima News article at .

Post-presidential Election Realities
A Statement by a Group of Bishops

Catholic and Anglican church leaders in Sri Lanka share their concerns in this article in the wake of the country’s presidential election on Jan. 26, 2010. The incumbent president, Mahinda Rajapaksa, won a new six-year term after an electoral campaign that was tainted by hundreds of complaints of violence, including at least four murders, and other irregularities. Moreover, after the election, the main opposition candidate, Gen. Sarath Fonseka, the former commander of the army, was arrested on Feb. 8. It is in this context that some of Sri Lanka’s religious leaders issued their statement. [Read more]

Muslims Helping Haiti
Wajahat Ali

As the Jan. 12 earthquake this year in Haiti begins to recede from people’s minds and the news media, this article reminds us of the efforts that the world’s Islamic community has made in responding to the suffering and destruction of the magnitude 7 earthquake. [Read more]

Haiti: The Rest of the Story Is Ours
Joan Chittister

The recent earthquake in Haiti thrust the Western Hemisphere’s poorest nation further into poverty. The author of this article for the National Catholic Reporter in the United States shares with readers why Haiti was so poor before the earthquake struck on Jan. 12. This story also reminds us that rebuilding Haiti will be a long process that cannot afford compassion fatigue, that Haiti is a nation that cannot be forgotten, that even more is at stake than just rebuilding a devastated country. Read more at

The Prophet Muhammad’s Promise to Christians
Muqtedar Khan

A prescription for peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Christians is contained in the words of the Prophet in the seventh century. In today’s world, the difficulty is following them. [Read more]

Reflections from the School of Peace: Forgiveness
Max Ediger

The 2010 School of Peace (SOP) conducted by Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) is being held from Feb. 1 to May 14 this year with 20 young people from Bangladesh, Burma, Cambodia, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam taking part. During the next few months, faith and peace will share some of the reflections of the participants and resource people from this year’s SOP.

The first reflection is by Max Ediger, ICF coordinator, on Feb. 4 about the shooting of members of the Amish community in the United States and the reaction of the Amish community to it. [Read more]

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