Subject: [Karapatan HR update] Women human rights defenders (WHRDs), various organizations in Asia Pacific join the call for the immediate lifting of martial law in Mindanao
Press Statement
June 16, 2017

Reference:  Gerifel Cerillo, Tanggol Bayi Coordinator, 0995-5658306 
                        Karapatan Public Information Desk, 0918-9790580

Women human rights defenders (WHRDs), various organizations in Asia Pacific join the call for the immediate lifting of martial law in Mindanao

Women human rights defenders (WHRDs) from different organizations in Asia and the Pacific gathered on June 12, 2017 in Chiangmai, Thailand for a solidarity action with the people of the Philippines. The activity, organized by the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and Tanggol Bayi, called for an end of the aerial bombings and the immediate lifting of martial law in Mindanao.

Photo: Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) hold up signs that spell out ‘We Stand with Marawi’ in a solidarity action with the people of the Philippines last June 12, 2017 in Chiangmai, Thailand. (c) APWLD

In a solidarity statement signed by 19 organizations and 25 individuals, they expressed solidarity “to the victims of the Marawi siege who have been battered by acts of terror coming from the ISIS-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, as well as from the Philippine government. We strongly condemn this blatant display of disregard for human life and people’s rights. We add our voices to the growing call to lift martial law in Mindanao and stop aerial strikes in Marawi.”
Tanggol Bayi, an association of WHRDs in the Philippines, said that “unrest often grows and thrives in environments of exploitation and inequalities. Imposing martial law, another militarist approach, will aggravate the curtailment of civil and political rights and will never address the social, economic and political structures that have ignited the conflict.”
Different individuals and organizations reminded the Philippine government of its obligations as primary duty-bearer in the respect and promotion of human rights, as well as the State’s accountability for acts of violence committed by State instruments. The group said that international conventions and other agreements in which the Philippine government is party to should be upheld, for these are mechanisms to ensure the rights of women and those most marginalized sectors are respected.

“We reiterate our call for the government of the Philippines to quickly end martial law in Mindanao and cease aerial strikes in Marawi. As the primary duty-bearer, the Philippine Government is accountable for acts of violence committed against women and girls by military, non-military, state and non-state actors. Thus, we remind the Philippine government of its domestic and international human rights obligations to protect women, girls and all peoples from all forms of gender-based violence, such as rape and other forms of sexual abuse, and all forms of violence in situations of armed conflict in accordance with the Beijing Platform for Action, CEDAW, Convention against Torture, International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, among others,” they said. 
The statement further added that “equality of wealth, resources and power between countries, between peoples, between men and women is the best path to peace, harmony and development justice.”
“Despite our different backgrounds, we will continue to pursue paths towards peace based on justice. We will remain vigilant as we strive towards a safe environment where human rights are respected and given priority over ego and the desire to appear tough and masculine. We stand together as sisters in solidarity against political, economic and social violence against women and all peoples. For as long as repression and exploitation – in all its forms – exist, we will continue our struggle and build just alternatives,” the statement concluded.

Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights
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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.