Human Rights, Just Peace and the Canada-PH Solidarity
Marie Hilao and members of International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) Canada met with MPs in Ottawa after her visit to Toronto. As a result of the meetings, NDP Members of Parliament, Paul Dewar (foreign affairs critic) and Wayne Marston (international human rights critic) sent a letter to the Canadian Government (see letter at right) urging that it support the call for the resumption of the Peace Talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines.
VANCOUVER– Making local and global connections thus, providing solidarity and nurturing partnership, the United Church of Canada through its Partners in Mission program, facilitated and supported the Canada-wide tour of Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of KARAPATAN (Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights) and co-convener Ecumenical Voice for Human Rights and Peace (EcuVoice).
During the Martial Law regime in the 1970’s, Enriquez was arrested, detained and tortured along with a brother and two sisters, one of whom was executed while in detention. “But I lived, and must have survived the ordeal to give voice to the voiceless and speak the truth on the rocky road to peace,” she said.
From the Philippines to Ottawa, Montreal, Toronto, Winnipeg and Vancouver, Enriquez spoke about the worsening human rights situation in the Philippines particularly the extrajudicial killings of political activists, human rights defenders, journalists and leaders of opposition parties and community organizations especially of the indigenous peoples.
At her meeting with the government officials in Ottawa and the CUPE-Global Justice Solidarity, she appealed for their support to urge the Philippine government to resume the peace talks with the National Democratic Front in the Philippines. Reports from investigation by the UN Special Rapporteur and international human rights organizations, point to the Philippine military and police as part of its counter-insurgency campaign. Enriquez said that peace negotiations to end the armed conflict are absolutely necessary to protect people’s most basic right to life.
On May 30, 2014, members of the Justice Advisory Circle of BC Conference, church leaders, social justice and human rights advocates received Marie Enriquez at a solidarity luncheon spearheaded by Rev. Marianna Harris, convener of the Justice Advocacy Circle (JAC) with Rev. Doug Goodwin, Executive Secretary of the BC Conference of the United Church of Canada.
Also present were Mable Elmore, MLA-Vancouver-Kensington, Rev. Deb Hinksman, Ellesmere United Church, proponent of the Legal Defense Fund-Rev. Stuart Lyster, Rev. Brad Newcombe of Lakeview United, Aiyanas Ormond of the Alliance for People’s Health, Leo Alejandria of Migrante BC, Lori Keenan, Dave and Teresa Diewert of Streams of Justice and Beth Dollaga, of Ellesmere United and CPSHR.
Enriquez received a copy of the Terms of Reference for the Legal Defense Fund (Philippines) from Rev. Deb Hinksman. This is a legacy of Ellesmere United Church in Burnaby, BC to assist in the legal process and representations to victims of human rights violations, human rights defenders in their work. It is an agreement between the National Council of Churches in the Philippines and the United Church Foundation in cooperation with the National Union of People’s Lawyers and KARAPATAN.
On May 31, 2014, Enriquez completed her cross-Canada tour with a public forum in Vancouver, BC at Lakeview Multicultural United Church. According to Enriquez, the current Aquino administration professes to respect human rights, has supposed progressives and civil society leaders in government, and its internationally praised for its “good governance. Yet, KARAPATAN has documented 192 extrajudicial killings (EJKs), 22 enforced disappearances, and 482 political prisoners with zero accountability. “These human rights violations of EJKs, enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention and others continue. And because they are State-sponsored they continue with impunity,” said Enriquez. Long-time ally and supporter, Atty. Gail Davidson, Executive Director of the Lawyers Rights Watch Canada (LRWC) also shared about the UN working group on human rights work on individual cases of alleged human rights violations and abuses. She offered to assist and continue to support the call. LRWC has a consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations.
Enriquez thanked the peace-loving Canadians and the faith community. “We know we are not alone, we are ever grateful for your accompaniment. We are millions of people believing in mobilizing and taking action for a just and peaceful Philippines.” Enriquez concluded.
The forum was organized by the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada), Canada-Philippines Solidarity for Human Rights (CPSHR) sponsored by the Justice Advisory Circle of BC Conference, Amnesty International, Alliance for People’s Health, and the Lakeview Multicultural United Church.