Occupy Wall Street protesters support One Million Voices for Peace Campaign

New York – Hundreds of “Occupy Wall Street” protesters in New York, their supporters, passers-by and tourists signed the One Million Voices for Peace in the Philippines petition calling for a peaceful negotiated settlement to the armed conflicts in the country.

The petition signers ranged from organizers of other “occupy” movements in the US, Filipino-Americans, immigrants, former peace corps member based in the Philippines and even a kin of a legendary music icon.

Justin Smith, an organizer of the “Occupy DC” movement in the American government center in Washington, said that he signed the petition as the non-violent character of the “occupy” movement resonates with the call for a peaceful negotiated settlement in the Philippines which is essential to advancing the cause of justice all over the world. Smith, a volunteer at a hospice of dying government employees, went to Wall Street to learn from the organizers how they “run things” in the New York.

Kimberly Howard, 25, who is half Filipino, says she feels that the non-violent path should be the way to arrive at a conflicted situation such as in the Philippines. Howard says she resonates with everything the “occupy” movement represents as she could not even avail of student loans even if she paid taxes. She cited the $590 million in taxes for the production of an electric car but was instead manufactured outside the US.

?Former Peace Corps volunteer Ed Murphy, 58, said “I support this campaign because I know how it is in the Philippines, in Mindanao as my son who was a backpacker told me stories about the country which definitely needs peace”

Pancho Guthrie, who claims to be the relative of the legendary Woodie Guthrie, saluted the peace campaign as he signed saying that “peace somewhere is peace everywhere”.

A Jamaican illegal immigrant who has not seen her children for 16 years told the petition organizers “you are not doing this only for yourself, you are also doing this for others like us”.

Eight year old Darren Cho simply said “I want to help”.

?The One Million Voices for Peace in the Philippines is a campaign aimed at gathering “voices” of people in the country and around the world who are seeking a peaceful, negotiated political settlement of the two major conflicts besetting our country: the Moro/Mindanao issue and the communist-led insurgency. The voices can be expressed in multi-media forms: signatures to a simple petition, “likes” in the campaign’s Facebook page, a “tweet”, etc. The results of the campaign will be submitted to the peace panels of the government, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ( MILF) and the National Democratic Front (NDF).

Occupy Wall Street (OWS) is an ongoing series of demonstrations in New York City based in Zuccotti Park in the Wall Street financial district. They are mainly protesting social and economic inequality, corporate greed, corruption and influence over government?particularly from the financial services sector?and lobbyists. The protesters’ slogan, “We are the 99%”, refers to the difference in wealth in the U.S. between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population.

The first protest was on September 17, 2011. By October 9 similar demonstrations were either ongoing or had been held in 70 major cities and over 600 communities in the U.S.. Other “Occupy” protests modeled after Occupy Wall Street have occurred in over 900 cities worldwide.

The OMVP petition was brought to the Zuccoti Park in downtown Manhattan by Filipino peace advocates Gus Miclat and Carmen Lauzon-Gatmaytan of the Initiatives for International Dialogue, a Davao-based regional advocacy and solidarity organization that is spearheading the campaign. Miclat and Gatmaytan were in New York attending separate conferences on human security and on the UN Security Council resolution 1325 on the role of women in peace building. They were joined by Filipino nurse Cookie Benitez and her two children, Krishia and Niko Villaflor.


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