STATEMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS – November 29, 2016

November 29, 2016

For reference: Gerifel Cerillo, Tanggol Bayi coordinator (0923-1952550)

STATEMENT ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Today, the world commemorates the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders, a day which pays tribute to the work as well as the persisting challenges against courageous women who stood up against State repression and all forms of human rights violations and gender-based violence. Tanggol Bayi (Defend Women), an association of women human rights defenders in the Philippines, are humbled by the work of women activists who continue to fight in defense of women’s and people’s rights and today, we honor their lives and their struggles.

Tanggol Bayi remembers Filipina human rights defenders Juvy Capion, Cristina Jose, Sherlyn Cadapan, Karen Empeno, Benjaline Hernandez, Eden Marcellana, among so many others, who stood at the frontlines of the struggle and have been figures of resistance in the fight against systematic oppression and repression. Regardless of where our battles are – in the rural areas, the urban centers, inside schools, in indigenous communities, in offices – they remain our light, our inspiration in the face of momentous challenges. As we remember their struggles, we tread on the path towards demanding accountability, towards the pursuit for justice, and genuine freedom and democracy.

Women activists, given the nature of their work, have been targeted by counter-insurgency measures which seek to abolish any form of resistance. Oplan Bayanihan, the counter-insurgency policy of the Aquino administration which remains operative under the Duterte administration until December 2016, has claimed the lives of more than 300 persons, and has been used to justify the illegal arrest and detention of social activists.

As of October 31, 2016, there are 401 political prisoners, 33 of them are women. Detained for trumped-up charges and fabricated evidences, they remain a stark indication that underneath the rhetoric of democracy is the intolerance for dissent and opposition, for comprehensive and genuine social change. These women activists are community organizers, teachers, health workers, disaster relief workers, among others, who have dedicated their lives in the struggle for a world free from imperialist rule and plunder and State oppression.

Among these women political prisoners are Moreta Alegre, a 70 year old farmer who was a vocal critic against landgrabbing in their area, was arrested and wrongly convicted of murder. She is detained at the Correctional Institute of Women and have been in jail for more than 11 years. Maricon Montajes, 25, was a student filmmaker at the University of the Philippines – Diliman. It was during an immersion program with farmers in Batangas that she was illegally arrested in June 2010. Rhea Pareja, 31, on the other hand, is a volunteer teacher who was abducted by soldiers on March 5, 2010 in Quezon, and charged with fabricated offenses. Rhea is detained at the Taguig City Jail- Female Dorm, Camp Bagong Diwa (TCJ-CBD) and has been diagnosed with pulmonary tuberculosis stage 4. More recently on August 19, 2016, Amelia Pond, 64, regional coordinator and volunteer teacher of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines (RMP) in the Southern Mindanao Region (SMR) was arrested in Cebu City for trumped-up charges of double murder and frustrated murder. Amelia has dedicated her time in developing and teaching in indigenous, community schools run by RMP.

The criminalization of human rights and political activists continue, and are among the many forms of political repression in the course of their work of rendering services to the marginalized sectors of society. Women human rights defenders all over the country are thus one in calling for a general, omnibus, and unconditional amnesty to release all political prisoners in the country. They should never have been imprisoned; they should have been given honors for their relentless sacrifices instead. Every day that they spend in prison is another injustice done against them, and the only just recourse is their immediate and unconditional release.

Lastly, as Tanggol Bayi remembers and celebrates the lives of such exemplary women, we also express our solidarity with women human rights defenders all over the world. We stand as one in breaking down barriers of state repression and oppression, unified in the struggle of advancing women’s and people’s rights. For our sisters all over the world who became martyrs, we remember their cause, and we remain steadfast in the trenches of the struggle; for the continuing struggle of women all around the globe exemplify that resistance is built on hope, and to resist is to irradiate that hope.

 

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Justice for Omar Nayef Zayed, Justice for Palestine!

Justice for Omar Nayef Zayed, Justice for Palestine!

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle (ILPS) Commission 3 (In Defense of Human Rights and Political Prisoners) condemns in strongest terms the assassination of Omar Nayef Zayed, a former Palestinian political prisoner who sought asylum in Bulgaria.

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As we mourn the death of Zayed, we salute him for his courage and resilience in his life-long struggle for the freedom of Palestine and its people from the US-backed Zionist occupation. We also convey our sincerest condolences to his family and comrades in the movement for Palestinian liberation.

Zayed died after falling from a high storey of the Palestinian Embassy building in Sofia, Bulgaria.  He took refuge in the Embassy after Zionist and Bulgarian forces broke into his house on December 17, 2015 to arrest him for extradition to Israel. Earlier on, the Israeli Embassy wrote a letter to the Bulgarian Ministry of Justice demanding Zayed’s extradition as he is a fugitive from the law.

Zayed was arrested in 1986 and sentenced to life imprisonment for “targeting illegal Zionist settlers in Jerusalem.” He escaped Zionist prison in 1990 when he was transferred to a hospital while on a 40-day hunger strike. He stayed and raised a family in Bulgaria where he ran a grocery store in the Palestinian community in Sofia as he continued with his commitment for the liberation of his country.

Media reports on his fall did not exclude the possibility of foul play, of him being pushed down the building. The  Israeli media itself was the first to report that Zayed was assassinated although the Palestinian Ambassador refuted the allegation. The fact is Palestinians anywhere in the world have been continuously persecuted. More than 800,000 Palestinians have been jailed since the 1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.  The Israel State intelligence group Mossad is responsible for special operations overseas.

We hold Israel and its intelligence group Mossad, the Palestinian Authority and the Bulgarian government accountable for the killing of Omar Nayef Zayed. We demand justice for Zayed and for the Palestinian people.

ILPS Commission 3 members: Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights – Philippines, Hustisya Philippines, Society of Ex-Detainees against Detention and Arrest (SELDA), Desaparecidos, Bayan Southern Tagalog (Philippines), Pamalakaya, Amihan Northern Mindanao, Health Alliance for Human Rights Philippines, Fundacion Amancio Villatoro – Guatemala, Frente Popular Revolucionario – Mexico, Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili – Hongkong, Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Promotion for Church People’s Response – Philippines, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – US, Defend Job Philippines, SoCSKSarGenDS Agenda, Cordillera People’s Alliance – Philippines, Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Gabriela New York, Kalumbay Northern Mindanao, Filipino Women Migrant Workers Association – Hongkong, Pasaka-Southern Mindanao, Public Interest Law Center, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Northern Mindanao, Kasimbayan, MOVADEF-Peru, CRA Manipur, Kasama-Timog Katagalugan, New York Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines, Samidoun Palestinian Political Prisoners Network, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada

Additional endorser: Revolutionary Students Movement – University of Ottawa, Movement Etudient Révolutionnaire/Revolutionary Student Movement – Canada, Université d’Ottawa Groupe de recherche d’intérêt public de l’Ontario –  University of Ottawa, Ontario Public Interest Research Group

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Justice for Berta Caceres and Nelson Garcia! Justicia para Berta Cáceres y Nelson García!

Justice for Berta Caceres and Nelson Garcia! 

Justicia para Berta Cáceres y Nelson García!

The International League of Peoples’ Struggle Commission 3 (In Defense of Human Rights and Political Prisoners) strongly condemns the murders of Honduran activists compañera Berta Caceres, killed on March 3, 2016, and compañero Nelson Garcia, killed on March 15, 2016.

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Caceres was a co-founder of the Civil Council of Grassroots and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Consejo Civico de Organizaciones Populares Indigena de Honduras, COPINH), while Garcia is an active member of the said organization. Founded in 1993, COPINH is a social and political organization that has been actively campaigning for the rights of the Lenca people in Honduras amid the encroachment of US and other transnational corporations in their ancestral lands.

Caceres was a recipient of the 2015 Goldman Environment Prize for her leading role in the resistance to the Agua Zarca Hydro-Dam project that could have had detrimental impact on the environment and lives of the indigenous Lenca people in the Rio Blanco community. The dam project, which is constructed along the Gualcarque river, was partially controlled by the powerful Atala family in Honduras, which has billions worth of assets and businesses in the country and is suspected as among the backers of the 2009 coup in the country. The World Bank was among those who backed and supported the said project. It is reported that Agua Zarca goons and paramilitaries, supported by the Honduran military, are among the perpetrators of Caceres’ killing.

We extend our solidarity to the families of Caceres and Garcia, to the members of COPINH, to the Lenca and the Honduran people, in these difficult times when attacks against indigenous peoples and environmental activists are on the rise worldwide. From 2010 to 2014, one hundred one (101) environmental activists have been killed in Honduras.

We salute the courage and tenacity of Caceres and Garcia in their fight for a “free decolonized future from the three systemic forces – capitalism, racism and patriarchy.” Likewise, we share the rage of the Honduran people, especially the indigenous people, on the killing of Caceres and Garcia.

We likewise express our grave concern on the situation of Gustavo Castro Soto, coordinator of Friends of the Earth Mexico and director of Otros Mundos, who was shot twice during the attack on Caceres and survived the said attack by pretending to be dead. Soto remains in the custody of Honduran authorities, along with three of Caceres’ colleagues from COPINH, as the Honduran authorities try to whip up spectacular stories to whitewash the investigations and evade accountability on Caceres’ murder.

We share the rage of all peoples who have been victims of imperialist plunder and greed. We denounce the hand of US government in these crimes as proven in many similar cases the world over where US intervention, and economic and geo-political interests have come into play.

Caceres had been the subject of death threats for leading the resistance to the intrusion of multinational interests in their indigenous land and resources, with the backing of the US government.  She was even the number one target in a “kill list” leaked by the media that included activists, journalists and politicians who were critical of neoliberal projects of the government, such as destructive dams, mines and mega-agriculture.

Garcia was shot dead by gunmen in his house, about a hundred miles from Caceres’ home, after he came from another nearby community where more than one hundred police and military officers evicted dozens of families.

Since the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, said to have been maneuvered by the US, Honduran communities have been heavily militarized and human rights abuses have been prevalent. Honduras has at least 12,000 soldiers, one for every 717 people, whose generals have been trained, and in the US Army School of Americas (SOA)/Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Operation (WHINSEC). For over 68 years, the school has trained more than 60,000 Latin American soldiers in counter-insurgency techniques, sniper skills, commando and psychological warfare, military intelligence and interrogation tactics. The 2009 coup in Honduras was led by SOA graduates to install regimes propped up by the US government. Since the coup, the US has invested $45 million in the construction of a US military base, Soto Cano, commonly known as Palmerola. It has also brought in $5.25 million as direct military aid to the Honduran government, excluding funds for the training of at least 164 soldiers at the SOA.

All across Latin America and the world, the common denominators to ensure US hegemony are US aid, militarization, pillage of land and resources, and human rights abuses.

In Mexico, the Merida Initiative, a US aid program for Mexican security forces supposedly to fight organized crimes and drug cartels, has been unmasked as a ploy to protect US business interests on Mexico’s gas, oil and mineral resources and decimate activists, including young students, who are critical of the government’s guarantee for these business interests.

In Colombia, the US-funded Colombia Plan is aimed to solve not only the problem of drug trafficking but also the internal social conflict in the country resulting in the death of more than 200,000 people.

In the Philippines, indigenous peoples are in the same plane – killed or massacred for resisting the intrusion of transnational interests in their ancestral land and mineral resources. US military financing has supported, trained and equipped state security forces and paramilitary forces to quell the people’s resistance and protect foreign investments, in consonance with the Philippine government’s subservience to imperialist neoliberal policies.

Following Caceres’ murder, her children and mother Bertha issued the following statement:

“We want respect for her integrity as a figure of the resistance. She is an eternal fighter against racism, patriarchy and the oppressive and murderous capitalist system. Her struggle cuts across nations and is anti-imperialist, rejecting the coup financed and supported by the United States which spurred the delivery of national territory to transnational corporations at the expense of rights of the Lenca people and the Honduran people…

We know with complete certainty that the motivation for her vile assassination was her struggle against the exploitation of nature’s common wealth and the defense of the Lenca people. Her murder is an attempt to put an end to the struggle of the Lenca people against all forms of exploitation and expulsion. It is an attempt to halt the construction of a new world. Berta’s struggle was not only for the environment, it was for system change, in opposition to capitalism, racism and patriarchy.”

We demand justice for Caceres, Garcia and all Honduran activists. We hold the Honduran and US government accountable for their deaths. We vow to continue and intensify the struggle against US imperialism and all forms of reaction.

ILPS Commission 3 members: Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights – Philippines, Hustisya Philippines, Society of Ex-Detainees against Detention and Arrest (SELDA), Desaparecidos, Bayan Southern Tagalog (Philippines), Pamalakaya, Amihan Northern Mindanao, Health Alliance for Human Rights Philippines, Fundacion Amancio Villatoro – Guatemala, Frente Popular Revolucionario – Mexico, Pinatud A Saleng Ti Umili – Hongkong, Ugnayan ng mga Manggagawa sa Agrikultura, Promotion for Church People’s Response – Philippines, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan – US, Defend Job Philippines, SoCSKSarGenDS Agenda, Cordillera People’s Alliance – Philippines, Canada Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights, Gabriela New York, Kalumbay Northern Mindanao, Filipino Women Migrant Workers Association – Hongkong, Pasaka-Southern Mindanao, Public Interest Law Center, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas – Northern Mindanao, Kasimbayan, MOVADEF-Peru, CRA Manipur, Kasama-Timog Katagalugan, New York Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines, Samidoun Palestinian, Political Prisoners Network, Student Christian Movement of the Philippines, Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines – Canada

Additional endorser: Revolutionary Students Movement – University of Ottawa, Movement Etudient Révolutionnaire/Revolutionary Student Movement – Canada, Université d’Ottawa Groupe de recherche d’intérêt public de l’Ontario –  University of Ottawa, Ontario Public Interest Research Group

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RESIST THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP!

Dear friends and colleagues,

Greetings from the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)!

At the Asia Pacific Feminist Forum last June, women, civil society organisations and social movements from around the world came together and decided to launch a campaign against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. As the international community comes together in negotiating a new sustainable development agenda, another global agreement is on its way, one that would undermine national sovereignty and democracy; it is a binding agreement that would finalise corporatocracy!

Please find below a collective statement against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. We are calling for endorsements of groups who want to join our campaign against the TPP. Click this link to add your signature to our statement and also to receive more information about the campaign. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dG8yZXdqVGg2V2lQQTJyRkhrU1NwZkE6MA

We encourage you to share this widely with your networks.

In solidarity,
APWLD

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Resist the Trans-Pacific Partnership

We, civil society organisations, networks, and social movements from around the world, declare our unequivocal opposition to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). We believe that the TPP, which is currently being negotiated behind closed doors by governments, led by the United States (US) as the dominant player among 12 countries, and hundreds of corporate advisors, will significantly infringe upon people’s rights and freedoms and privilege the interests of corporations over the public interest.

The TPP is distinct from most trade agreements because of the extraordinarily broad scope of the rules it would impose on governments. In addition to conventional trade concerns, such as market access, it allows wealthy countries and large corporations to reach across borders and impose constraints on a vast array of domestic non-trade policies that impact the environment, public services, intellectual property, labour, health, communications, and visas, among others. The TPP’s main provisions are expected to require member-countries to remove any remaining barriers to investments, to strictly enforce intellectual property laws that would raise pharmaceutical costs and stifle digital innovation and freedom of expression, and to allow private corporations to sue states before an international tribunal. In effect, countries joining the TPP will have to surrender big chunks of their national sovereignty to the trade pact’s dominant players.”

The degree of secrecy surrounding the trade negotiations is completely unacceptable given the huge repercussions the TPP will have on people’s rights. It is particularly outrageous that legislatures, civil society, and the media have been excluded, yet more than 600 corporate advisors have access to—and influence over—the text. What we know about the TPP comes from leaked texts that confirm that a broad range of domestic policies must be brought into line with the terms of the TPP. The TPP represents a corporate coup to deceptively take over national policy making and democratic rights. This is an extraordinary violation of domestic policy space, representing unprecedented aggression against national sovereignty and democratic policy-making.

One aspect of the TPP that is especially concerning is the investor-state dispute resolution (ISDR) mechanism. This allows foreign corporations to sue governments if they enact policies, including laws in the public interest, that reduce their potential profit margin. Consumer laws, environmental protections, and public health laws can all be considered under ISDR to infringe on ‘investor rights’. In past cases, ISDR has been used by companies to sue governments for millions, even billions, of dollars, in foreign tribunals outside of domestic legal systems where there is no compulsion to publish decisions and no appeal mechanism. ISDR is an attack on the ability of developing countries to protect the rights of their citizens.

We are particularly alarmed about the implications of the TPP for women. Policies of privatization, deregulation, and liberalization have the most negative impact on women, who comprise 70% of the world’s poor. Women’s rights will inevitably be violated, particularly their rights to decent work and a living wage, adequate healthcare, and equal access to land and productive resources. By promoting the aggressive liberalization of all of these sectors, women living in poverty stand to lose the most as a result of the TPP.

Trade can be a way of empowering local economies and strengthening women’s economic autonomy. But the TPP is designed to entrench corporate dominance, inequalities, and exploitation. Whatever the international community commits to in the context of new Sustainable Development Goals will be comprehensively undermined by the TPP and its draconian enforcement measures. We call for an end to the TPP negotiations and for the main text to be publicly released. We know this will expose the TPP for what it is: a framework that further institutionalises profit over people.

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Women Living Under Muslim Laws – Appeal for women human rights defenders in the Philippines

Dear Tanggol Bayi,

Please find below a copy of the appeal that WLUML – Women Living Under Muslim Laws sent via mail and email to all persons concerned.

Best,

Yasmin Ghrawi

Communications and Advocacy Officer

Women Living Under Muslim Laws

International Coordination Office

Unit 23, 25-27 Bickerton Road, London N19 5JT, United Kingdom

Tel:            +44 (0)207 263 0285       – Fax:+44 (0)207 561 9882

Website: www.wluml.org

From: WLUML
Sent: 05 December 2012 11:00
To: ‘op@president.gov.ph
Subject: Appeal for women human rights defenders

His Excellency Benigno C. Aquino III,

We are writing to express our deep concern on the increasing number of government-sponsored violations against Filipina human rights defenders who defend their rights to land and life. These indigenous women leaders and environmental activists are leaders of their communities who speak up against the entry of foreign mining corporations to protect the environment and their ancestral domain. They have been targeted and vilified by state security forces. They have been killed, harassed and charged with trumped-up cases.

Among the cases of rights violations against women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in the Philippines are that of:

a)      The massacre of indigenous WHRD Juvy Capion and her two children in Davao del Sur by elements of the 27th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army;

b)      The abduction and illegal detention of Julia Manlusag in Sitio Kiranggol, Brgy. Dao, San Fernando, Bukidnon by paramilitary groups under the 8th Infantry Battalion of the Phil. Army;

c)       Threats and harassment against Benedictine missionary Sr. Stella Matutina, indigenous women leaders Bae Adelfa Belayong and Bebeth Calinawan Enriquez

We are concerned that the continuous implementation of the Philippine government’s counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan will cause more human rights violations as those inflicted on the abovementioned women human rights defenders and civilians.

The killings, threats, harassment, and military operations and occupation of communities are all being conducted under the guise of the military’s “winning the peace” operations, when in truth and in fact, the list of violations, especially among the indigenous peoples, farmers and environmental advocates defending their right to land and life, goes on.

In support of women human rights defenders we urge you to:

  1. Immediately act to stop the killings and attacks against women human rights defenders;
  2. Pull out military troops in communities and disband the paramilitaries;
  3. Stop the labeling and targeting of human rights defenders as “members of front organizations of the communists” and “enemies of the state;”
  4. Immediately render justice for those whose rights are violated and file cases against the perpetrators;
  5. Withdraw the counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan, which victimizes civilians and human rights defenders;
  6. Observe and respect all international human rights instruments such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and other major obligations.

Yours sincerely,
Fatou Sow

International Director

Women Living Under Muslim Laws – International Solidarity Network, London, United Kingdom

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