Filipino Muslim Rights Activist Denied Entry To US

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A Filipino Muslim activist has been denied entry into the United States and is believed to be held at San Francisco International Airport, a human rights group in the Philippines reported.

The Sandugo-Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination, a group based in Mindanao, said Jerome Aladdin Succor Aba has been in the airport’s holding facility since his arrival on April 17.

It was believed that Aba, chairman of the group Suara Bangsamoro, was detained by American immigration officials over “visa problems.”

The activist was supposed to speak before religious and U.S. government officials, including members of the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives.

Aba was also scheduled to speak on the human rights situation in the Philippines at the National Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice in Washington D.C. on April 20-23.

The event is an annual national gathering of churches on peace and social justice issues that includes lobbying visits to Capitol Hill.

“Is the U.S. government afraid that its role in the atrocities against national minorities and peasants in Mindanao will be exposed?” read a statement from Sandugo.

“We seek help from peace advocates in the U.S. to help us demand the U.S. government to release Aba.”

Amirah Lidasan, former president of Suara Bangsamoro, blamed President Donald Trump’s “discriminatory and xenophobic Muslim ban policy” as the reason for Aba’s detention.

“This is the first case wherein a Muslim from the southern Philippines was arrested, detained and denied entry into the U.S. since Trump’s presidency,” said Lidasan.

Human rights activists have posted pictures of a group of people protesting at San Francisco International Airport to demand his release.

CBS television in San Francisco reported that Aba was being held in a secured area of the airport with access to food, water and a restroom while he waits for a flight back to the Philippines.

A statement from U.S. Customs and Border Protection said it does not consider the country of origin or human rights activism to be determining factors for admissibility to the country.