October 13, 2018
International, national organizations rally for justice for slain woman human rights defender in Maguindanao
In a statement signed by 40 international and national organizations, rights defenders strongly condemned the killing of Mariam Uy Acob, a woman human rights defender (WHRD) in Maguindanao province in Mindanao, Philippines. Acob, 43, a paralegal of Kawagib Moro Human Rights and a leader of Tindeg Bangsamoro, was gunned down by suspected military agents on the afternoon of September 23, 2018. She was targeted because she was a staunch critic of militarization in Moro communities, and subsequently denounced the aerial bombardment and military encampment in areas in Muslim Mindanao.
Mariam became active in human rights work after her relatives were forcibly disappeared in 2014. She has spoken in protests and remained active in campaigns against militarization and forced evacuations. She has had to seek sanctuary after exposing and calling out the injustices perpetrated against Muslim communities in the Philippines. She was a beneficiary of the Urgent Action Fund for Women’s Human Rights and was given a grant for relocation as she tried to secure herself amidst the threats to her life. She is survived by 5 children.
According to Tanggol Bayi and Karapatan, there are already 27 cases of WHRDs killed in the Philippines under Duterte’s term. The Philippines has yet to pass a domestic law which comprehensively provides protection and support for those who act in defense of human rights. The Human Rights Defenders bill still remains in Congress, and as the country continues to be battered by repressive policies such as Duterte’s counterinsurgency program and martial law in Mindanao, the environment where rights defenders do their work is as dangerous as ever.
Tanggol Bayi an association of WHRDs in the Philippines, likewise called for an end to martial law in Mindanao and the withdrawal of counterinsurgency program Oplan Kapayapaan, both of which are used to justify the escalation of rights abuses in the country.
“We demand an immediate end to the killings! We demand a thorough, prompt, impartial and transparent investigation on the killing of Mariam Acob and other human rights defenders. We reiterate our call for the perpetrators to be held fully accountable for these heinous crimes. We likewise call for an immediate end to the repressive policies that allow these killings to continue with brazen impunity. Justice for Mariam Acob!” the statement concluded.
Reference: Geri Cerillo, Tanggol Bayi Coordinator, 0918-9790580
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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.
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WHRDs Joint Statement_Justice For Mariam Acob.pdf