Press Release
21 August 2020

Reference:
Cristina Palabay, Secretary General, ‪+639173162831‬
Karapatan Public Information Desk, ‪+639189790580

More int’l rights groups, church formations condemn killing of human rights worker Zara Alvarez
More international human rights groups well as various church formations have joined the international human rights community in expressing concern and condemnation over the murder of Karapatan paralegal and health worker Zara Alvarez, who was gunned down in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental last Monday, August 17.

Marianna Belalba Barreto, Civic Space Research Lead of global civil society alliance CIVICUS, said that “[t]he cold-blooded murder of Zara Alvarez is a travesty and yet another addition to the growing list of activists who have been attacked and killed in the country with impunity…. exacerbated by the callous disregard for accountability and justice by the government” as she called on Philippine authorities to “take credible steps to investigate and hold the perpetrators to account.”

[Link to CIVICUS statement: https://www.civicus.org/index.php/media-resources/media-releases/4570-killing-of-another-human-rights-activist-highlights-climate-of-impunity-in-the-philippines]

Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) Executive Director Shamini Darshni Kaliemuthu stated that “[t]he endless killings of activists in the Philippines have become systematic in Duterte’s regime, and demonstrate the continuing impunity in the country.” FORUM-ASIA urged the Philippine government to “immediately end the killings of activists and human rights defenders and ensure credible, transparent investigations and accountability for the lives which have been lost.”

[Link to FORUM-ASIA statement: https://www.forum-asia.org/?p=32519]

Karapatan is a member of CIVICUS and FORUM-ASIA.

Front Line Defenders, meanwhile, said that Alvarez’ killing “follows a pattern of violence and ‘red-tagging’ of human rights defenders in the country, a form of political harassment against activists in which authorities under the Duterte administration label them ‘communists’, a label which carries lethal consequences including extrajudicial killings.”

[Link to Front Line Defenders statement: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/statement-report/philippines-front-line-defenders-abhors-killing-zara-alvarez]

Ecumenical movement Oikotree Global, an alliance of church groups Council for World Mission, the World Council of Churches (WCC), and the World Communion of Reformed Churches, considered the brutal killing of Alvarez — who also worked closely with churches in her human rights work — as “an attack on democracy at large” and that “such killings are not only frustrating but unacceptable too, because the empires do not allow the Justice-lovers to live anymore.”

The 2019 WCC Pilgrim Team Visit to the Philippines, for whom Alvarez was one of the hosts during their visit in Negros, also lamented her death. Negros team member Rev. Janet McKeithen of the United Methodist Church said: “Her death is personal for me. She’s not the only one! For the love of God, this has to stop! The people of the Philippines are in constant danger and being murdered by their own government with absolutely no recourse! Zara Alvarez lived her faith among, for and with the people. We are all called to put feet to our faith, and that’s what Zara did — intelligently, relentlessly and passionately with every fiber of her being.” ###
———————————————————————
PUBLIC INFORMATION DESK
publicinfo@karapatan.org
———————————————————————

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) 4354146
Web: http://www.karapatan.org/

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.