Internet archive of ‘subversive’ publications launched
MANILA, Philippines — An “alliance,” as they call themselves, of teachers, researchers, and other professionals in the education sector has launched a website archiving progressive publications and documents deemed “subversive” by the military as it conducts an ongoing purge in various school libraries nationwide.
The Academics Unite for Democracy and Human Rights on Monday launched the “Aswang sa Aklatan” website (https://handsoffourlibraries.crd.co/), which will serve as a “free and easily accessible resource of endangered books and materials” that the government has deemed “subversive” and “mentally unhealthy,” the group said.
The website contains digital copies of books and articles classified under five main folders: Marxist-Leninist-Maoist Classics, Philippine Radical Thought, Martial Law Literature, Marxist Literature, and National Democratic Front Books and Writings.
Francisco Guiang of the University of the Philippines’ Department of History said the martial law folder, in particular, will help the public “brush up on the history of martial law, know important reading materials from primary sources like human rights statistics, studies on economic growth and testimonies of martial law veterans.”
The website also features a section that compiles links to news articles on the military’s book purging.
Another section contains a history of censorship in other countries, targeting books which cover such topics as racism and Nazism.
The alliance included as well a compilation of statements from librarians, teachers, publishers, students and activists who have expressed their concerns about the military’s purge.
The website offers options to join discussions, send statements and sign petitions to “protect libraries and universities from military and police incursion.”
The group has yet to determine how to secure the digital archive, but, according to Guiang, it will explore other platforms to share its materials if the website is threatened by censorship.
In a forum on Saturday on book censorship and academic freedom, UP Diliman Chancellor Fidel Nemenzo vowed to protect the university’s collection and defend the campus as a sanctuary of free ideas and activism.
UP Diliman, whose history is steeped in student activism, is home to books and research materials that could be tagged by the military as subversive, said Eimee Rhea Lagrama, the deputy university librarian.
This includes a special collection on the Marcos dictatorship consisting of brochures, flyers, manifestos and clippings on that era that were donated to the library.
UP’s collection also features the “Selda Papers,” named after the Marcos-era activist group Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Aresto (Selda).
That section includes police reports, eyewitness reports, and other legal documents on human rights violations during the dictatorship.
“UP Diliman categorically protests and condemns the military purge of what they call subversive books, documents, and materials from state universities. This is a violation of academic freedom to teach, research and expand knowledge freely and without prior restraint,” Nemenzo said.
UP Faculty Regent Ramon Guillermo said: “To intrude in our libraries is to intrude at the very heart of the university.”
“In defending our libraries, we must not yield even one centimeter… Freedom is not lost in a blink of an eye,” he added.
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