The San Francisco Board of Supervisors planned to vote Tuesday on a resolution condemning the inhumane treatment of detainees held at San Francisco International Airport (SFO).
Supervisor Hillary Ronen is leading the push for the immediate adoption of the resolution, as well as an independent investigation into the detainment of a well-known human rights activist from the Philippines.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) detained Jerome Aladdin Succor Aba on April 17 as he was on his way to Washington D.C., where he was scheduled to speak about issues facing the Philippines' Muslim and indigenous populations.
Terry Valen, president of the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns and the executive director of the Filipino Community Center in San Francisco, said the activist, "suffered physical and psychological torture in the hands of the Customs and Border Protection and Homeland Security agents at the airport."
In a press release, Jessica Antonio, secretary general for the Filipino rights advocacy group Bayan USA, provided details of Aba's alleged treatment at the airport.
Despite having a valid U.S. visa and official invitations by church institutions and community organizations to speak at multiple events in the U.S., Aba was treated as an enemy combatant and subjected to rendition-style interrogation, including being forced to strip naked in front of an industrial fan blowing cold air. He was repeatedly asked if he was a “terrorist” or “communist,” of his affiliations with renowned mass leaders in the Philippines, and his opinion of U.S. and Philippine political relations by CBP officials, who held him for 28 hours without access to a lawyer.
Supervisor Aaron Peskin, a strong advocate of the proposal, said he expects all of the supervisors will back Tuesday's vote. He found the particulars of Aba’s case disturbing.