Relatives of rights violations wish Pope Francis hear their stories

Press Statement

January 7, 2015

Families of the desaparecidos, political prisoners and victims of
extrajudicial killings welcomed the visit of His Holiness Pope Francis
to the country and asked him to join in their pursuit for justice.

“We ask Pope Francis to hear our stories. Ours are stories of
oppression, injustice and struggle. Our loved ones were illegally
arrested and detained, or killed, or disappeared for believing that a
just and peaceful society is possible,” Nikki Gamara, daughter of
political prisoner Renante Gamara said during the gathering. Nikki’s
father was a workers’ union organizer when he was arrested April 3, 2012
for false charges of kidnapping and murder. “My father has been in
prison for nearly three years now, facing a crime he never committed,
because this government has great disdain for his political beliefs and
activism for the workers,” Nikki said.

“The thoughts of Pope Francis on ‘the current economic systems as unjust
at its root’ are the same evil economic and political system that
brought our loved ones to their fate. Hearing the Pope speak of social
reforms which favour the poor and the oppressed give us continued hope
that together with the Pope and church leaders, we can seek justice
along with them,” the young Gamara continued.

Also at the gathering was Mrs. Linda Cadapan, mother of Sherlyn Cadapan
who disappeared in 2006 with fellow student Karen Empeno.
“Disappearances is something that Pope Francis know all too well for
this happened in his country Argentina. Unfortunately, in the
Philippines, enforced disappearance is not yet a thing of the past. It
is continuing and has victimized my daughter and many others,” Mrs.
Cadapan said. “We hope that these similar experiences, the similar
struggles in finding justice be our point of unity with the Pope,” Mrs.
Cadapan said.

During the gathering, the families of victims of human rights violations
announced their plan to hold activities in the coming days to call on
His Holiness to intercede for the release of political prisoners and
justice for victims of human rights violations. ###

Reference: Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, +63917-3162831
Angge Santos, Media Liaison, +63918-9790580

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
2nd Flr. Erythrina Bldg., #1 Maaralin corner Matatag Sts.,
Central District Diliman, Quezon City, PHILIPPINES 1101
Telefax: (+63 2) 4354146Web:

KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs,
human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and
individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s
rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human
rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education,
training and campaign.