MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines is deporting a Dutch activist who was photographed confronting a police officer during a rally last month denouncing the policies of President Benigno Aquino III, authorities said Tuesday.
A deportation order was issued against Thomas van Beersum for violating conditions of his tourist visa, said Wilson Soluren, head of Manila airport's immigration intelligence unit. Van Beersum also was put on an immigration blacklist.
Soluren said van Beersum, 20, was prevented from boarding a Tuesday morning flight home because officials needed to verify if any Philippine court cases were pending against him. Clearance for his departure was obtained and he was booked on a Wednesday afternoon flight, Soluren added. He was spending the night at the airport immigration office, he said.
Van Beersum has said in an open letter that he joined left-wing demonstrators because he was outraged by alleged human rights violations in the country, including the killing of Dutch environmental activist Wilhelm Geertman last year. Geertman's shooting is unsolved, and a Protestant bishops' group believes he was the target of people who would be affected by his advocacy.
Van Beersum's confrontation with the police officer followed a brief clash between anti-riot squads and protesters demanding jobs and land for poor farmers outside the heavily guarded House of Representatives, where Aquino delivered a State of the Nation address on July 22. Police said at least 15 people were hurt.
Renato Reyes, secretary general of the left-wing coalition Bayan that organized the anti-government rally, strongly denounced van Beersum's detention. "It is ridiculous that a person already set to leave the country will be detained only to be eventually deported," Reyes said. "We demand that the Aquino regime stop its harassment of foreign activists showing solidarity with the struggles of the Filipino people."
Reyes said van Beersum was in the country to visit and show solidarity with different people's organizations and to support the campaign for justice for Geertman. Van Beersum has posted pictures on Facebook with Philippine communist leaders including Communist Party of the Philippines founder Jose Maria Sison, who lives in exile in Utrecht, the same Dutch city where van Beersum resides.