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Filipino nonukes group hails release of israeli whistleblower { April 21 2004 }

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Wednesday, April 21, 2004 8:42 PM
Filipino no-nukes group hails release of Israeli whistleblower

Filipino anti-nuclear activists trooped Wednesday to the Embassy of Israel in Makati to celebrate the release of Nobel Peace Prize nominee Dr. Mordechai Vanunu, who was kidnapped, drugged and imprisoned by Israel in 1986 for blowing the whistle on Israel’s secret production of nuclear weapons.

The demonstrators unfurled a banner that read “Mabuhay Vanunu! No Nukes!” and criticized the Israeli government for its “continuing inhumane treatment of a man of peace, who only acted according to what his conscience dictated.”

A brief skirmish ensued after Israeli security personnel tried to accost a photographer who was with the demonstrators. Witnesses said the security men made obscene remarks at the Filipinos. “Don’t f..k with us!” an Israeli security officer reportedly told one of the demonstrators.

“We publicly announced as early as Monday our... intention to visit the Embassy of Israel to give flowers to welcome Mordechai Vanunu and to register our disagreement with the restrictions that the government of Israel intends to impose on Dr. Vanunu,” said Renato Redentor Constantino, the spokesman for the Filipino Families for Nuclear Disarmament (FFND).

"The display of ugly behavior was uncalled for," Constantino said of the Israeli security personnel's actions. " After we gave the flowers and our letter to the Israeli ambassador, we left, consistent with the intentions we announced days ago."

FFND said: “Instead of sending a Philippine peacekeeping force to Iraq, the Arroyo administration should send a team to Israel to welcome and embrace this global icon of peace."

According to Constantino, “Vanunu continues to stand for the abolition of nuclear weapons. His message remains terribly relevant and highly urgent today. He should never have been punished for his act of bravery.”

Vanunu was due to be released Wednesday from Shikma Prison in Ashkelon, Israel after spending 18 years in prison, 12 of those in solitary confinement.

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