March 28, 2018
We civil society organizations from all over the Asia Pacific region that have gathered in Bangkok, Thailand in March 2018 stand in solidarity with human rights, women, and environmental defenders under attack by the Philippine government of President Rodrigo Duterte.
The rights and environmental defenders along with other leaders from the ranks of labor, farmers, women, Indigenous Peoples, urban poor, migrants, among many others were listed and branded as “terrorists” by the country’s Department of Justice. The listing puts at risk the lives and security of these individuals, as well as their families and fellow activists given the irresponsible, arbitrary, malicious, and repressive motives behind the petition.
Among the unjustly accused are global coordinator of Indigenous Peoples’ Movement for Self Determination and Liberation and co-chair of CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness Beverly Longid, executive committee member of Karapatan National Human Rights Alliance and former interim regional coordinator of Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development Elisa “Tita” Lubi, co-convener of Indigenous Peoples Major Group on Sustainable Development Joan Carling, former UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Jose Molintas, chairperson of Sandugo Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance Joanna Kintanar Carino, regional coordinator of DEFEND Ilocos and member of the Save The Abra River Movement Sherwin de Vera, and UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Vicky Tauli-Corpuz.
The climate of terror and impunity in the Philippines occurs in the context of the government’s shift toward authoritarianism. In 2017, Pres. Duterte and his allies in the Congress railroaded the imposition of Martial Rule in the resource rich island of Mindanao on the pretext of fighting fundamentalist groups. However, it has become evident that the real targets are the Indigenous Peoples who are protecting their ancestral lands from greedy foreign extractive corporations.
Human rights defenders are not terrorists. They stand in the front lines of the struggle against neo-liberal globalization, corporate plunder, and militarism. Many of the names in the list are women and indigenous peoples actively engaged in campaigns against destructive foreign mining, agribusiness, and development aggression projects.
The virtual hit list drawn up against activists and rights defenders in the country is dangerous given that President Duterte is notorious for his strong contempt of human rights and wanton disregard for accountability.
Shrinking space for civil society is a growing concern not only in the Philippines but also in many countries in the Asia Pacific region. CSOs are under significant pressure as states deploy a range of formal and informal actions to undermine CSOs’ credibility, security, and legal protection. Killings of rights defenders have taken place in Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Pakistan, and Thailand. Enforced disappearances have continued to be a common tactic of intimidation and repression in Pakistan and China. Detention, arrests, and summonses have been deployed in Cambodia, Sri Lanka, and Vietnam. Increased use of restrictive legislation have been seen in Malaysia, Myanmar, and Maldives.
We demand that the Philippine government withdraw the justice department’s arbitrary petition, stop the threats, intimidation and harassment of human rights, women, and environmental defenders, adhere to international human rights and international humanitarian laws, and bring justice to victims of rights violations.
We call on all governments in the region to respect and protect civil society space and recognize the vital work civil society organizations perform as independent development actors.
We appeal to international bodies and platforms to ensure human rights in the Philippines and hold to account the government for its gross human rights violations, including the crackdown of civil society.
We call for international solidarity in upholding human rights and development justice. ###
Ivan Phell Enrile
People Over Profit
3/F 114 Ibon Center
Timog Avenue, Quezon City
+63 2 927 7060 to 61