Philippines Deports Australian Human Rights Defender

Karl Romano
180814_PH_Australian_1000.JPG Australian professor Gill Boehringer poses for a photo inside a “day room” at the Manila international airport, where he was allowed to live for almost one week after he was denied entry into the Philippines, Aug. 10, 2018.

Philippine authorities deported an 84-year-old Australian human rights activist Tuesday, almost a week after he was barred from entering the country for his alleged links to communist rebels, human rights groups said.

Gill Boehringer was forced to board a China Southern Airlines flight to Guangzhou, China, where he was expected to take a connecting flight to Sydney, said Peter Murphy, head of the International Coalition for Human Rights.

He is expected to land at the Kingsford Smith International Airport on Wednesday morning.

“Professor Boehringer was forced to board the plane without proper medical clearance and assessed fit to travel,” Murphy told reporters.

Rights groups said Boehringer’s deportation provides an indication that President Rodrigo Duterte’s government would continue its crackdown on legitimate groups questioning his deadly drug war.

Immigration officials prevented Boehringer’s entry into Manila last Wednesday and allowed him to live in Manila’s international airport after accusing him of violating visa rules for allegedly joining protests against Duterte’s bloody anti-drug campaign. He denied the allegations.

Boehringer, who is married to a Filipina, said that he had visited a school run by a tribal program on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in February, but emphasized that he made the trip as an academician while studying the circumstances for indigenous groups.

Boehringer, who holds an American passport and served as dean at Macquarie University Law School in Sydney, has also denied allegations of links to communist insurgents or any terror groups active in the country.

Lina Cabaero, of the rights group Migrante Australia, said Boehringer was returning to Sydney by virtue of the exclusion order issued by the Philippine Bureau of Immigration.

Boehringer was the latest foreigner ordered out of the Philippines, which had earlier deported three missionaries from the United States and Africa after accusing them of visiting Mindanao, where they had joined an international fact-finding mission looking into allegations of human rights violations.

An Australian nun had also been ordered deported by Duterte after accusing her of joining anti-government street protests.

Duterte had been angered by protests led by the Catholic Church questioning his government’s anti-drug war. More than 4,000 suspected pushers and addicts have died in police encounters, according to official records, although rights groups say the estimate could go as high as 12,000.

Boehringer told reporters before leaving the country that his own doctor has not cleared him for a long flight.

“What the bureau fails to understand is that you cannot predict that a person is fit to travel and not in danger from a deep-vein thrombosis, which I have previously suffered and nearly died from with a blood clot in my lung,” Boehringer said. “It seems to me that the bureau is putting my life at risk.”

Jeoffrey Maitem in Cotabato City contributed to this report.


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