In solidarity with the Tinang 83
Statement by Divya Victor
We at Jacket2 are in solidarity with the artist/writer and activist Angelo V. Suárez and his partner, the choreographer/artist and activist Donna Miranda. Angelo and Donna are part of the group now called the Tinang 83, a group of eighty-three artists, writers, and activists from the Philippines who are advocating for agrarian and environmental justice, working on behalf of farmers in the region. In an early June incident of police and state brutality against farmers and their supporters in Tinang — a town in Concepcion, Tarlac, in the Philippines — eighty-three activists were accosted in the one of the biggest mass arrests in recent memory. Among those arrested with Angelo and Donna is the Biennale multimedia artist Cian Dayrit. Days before his arrest, ArtNet News identified Dayrit as one of brightest stars of the Bienniale circuit, along with established artists like Cecilia Vicuña, Superflex, and Forensic Architecture.
I have known Angelo for several years now, and worked more recently with him as the curator of a feature on Philippine literary production under fascism for Jacket2. For a considerable time, Angelo has worked with the Philippine peasant movement as a volunteer. He also is the coconvenor of Sama-Samang Artista para sa Kilusang Agraryo (SAKA, or Artists’ Alliance for Genuine Agrarian Reform).
Like others who have done so, I vouch for Angelo as an artist and writer who I have worked with. We at Jacket2 condemn the forceful arrests, inhumane detentions, false accusations, and violent acts against the Tinang 83. Such state-led repression of democratic activities spitefully undermines the well-being, health, safety, and dignity of artists, writers, and activists. Our hearts are with Angelo, Donna, and the other activists, as well as their families and children, whose safety and security could now be in jeopardy. The suppression of democratic action in the Philippines is an attack on hard-won global Indigenous and peasant rights and environmental justice efforts everywhere.
On June 9, 2022, a day before the thirty-fourth anniversary of the Philippine agrarian reform program, the eighty-three activists had joined state-recognized agrarian reform beneficiaries in Tinang to till farmland withheld from regional farmers since 1995. At this land cultivation effort, armed state forces rounded up the eighty-three activists without clear cause and with force. The group has been accused of a slew of charges, including membership in New People’s Army, the armed wing of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines, which is labeled a “terrorist organization” by the Philippine and US governments. Angelo denies this alliance. According to Angelo, the artists and writers were detained for four days at the Concepcion police precinct, and spent nights in unsanitary, cramped jail cells that put their health and safety at risk during an ongoing global pandemic. All the Tinang 83 are charged with at least five offenses. The first two — malicious mischief and illegal assembly — have been dismissed. Three more — obstruction of justice, disobedience to authority, and usurpation of real rights in property — remain as of this writing. Some of them have been horrified to learn that they have also been charged with two more offenses: human trafficking and child exploitation.
Amnesty International alleges that the state enforces the repression of dissent through a practice known as “red-tagging,” whereby those individuals and groups who work to defend human rights for peasants, Indigenous people, and economically oppressed communities are falsely linked to the CPP-NPA or branded enemies of the state. It is clear to us that Angelo, Donna, and others of the Tinang 83 have been victims of such “red-tagging.”
PEN International has recently called for the immediate and unconditional release of all those unjustly detained, like Angelo and Donna. According to Amnesty International, the current administration of the Philippines is characterized by a “lack of accountability” and the facilitation of “unlawful killings and other human rights violations.” In 2021, the International Criminal Court announced investigations into crimes against humanity.
You can advance efforts to help the Tinang 83. Please read about the State’s actions against Angelo, Donna, Cian, and the other artists/writers of the Tinang 83 here:
PEN International, “Philippines: Alarm over mass arrests of journalists, writers, artists, and other cultural workers,” June 11, 2022.
Rimbun Dahan, “In Support of Donna Miranda & the Tinang 83,” June 20, 2022.
Rebecca Ann Proctor, “Biennale Star Cian Dayrit Was One of Dozens of Artists Arrested in the Philippines for Supporting Farmers’ Rights,” ArtNet, June 14, 2022.
You can help amplify awareness about bail-funds efforts to help the Tinang 83.
You can sign this public petition to “Resist intensifying fascism in the Philippines” and to “Drop all charges against the Tinang 83.”
You can write directly to these parties to place pressure and let them know that an international network of artists and writers is watching:
1. The National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA). Address the letter to Arsenio Lizaso (firstname.lastname@example.org), NCCA Chairperson, but feel free to CC the following as well:
2. The Commission on Human Rights (CHR). Address the letter to Atty. Jacqueline Anne de Guia (email@example.com), Executive Director.
Please help Angelo and Donna and their compatriots. The suppression of democratic action in the Philippines is an attack on global peasant and Indigenous rights activism and environmental justice everywhere. Please stand by artists and writers who have placed so much on the line to be activists in their community.
In solidarity and in good faith,