Karapatan welcomes release of rights worker Nimfa Lanzanas

Photo from Defend Southern Tagalog

Karapatan welcomes the release of our Southern Tagalog human rights worker Nimfa Lanzanas after 16 months in prison. Her release was based on a decision by Judge Cesar Benagua of the Regional Trial Court Branch 37 of Calamba City granting her demurrer to evidence and thereby acquitting her of the trumped up charge of illegal possession of firearms and explosives.

Nay Nimfa’s fortitude and the support of her family, colleagues and various groups, as well as steadfast defense of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers have shown that our collective efforts to assert the truth and push back against repression are important steps to uphold human rights.

Nay Nimfa was one of four activists arrested on March 7, 2021, based on a search warrant issued by Manila City 3rd Vice Executive Judge Jason Zapanta. Nine Southern Tagalog-based peasants, urban poor activists and indigenous people were killed in the course of the service of similar search warrants by the police and military. Known as the Bloody Sunday incidents, the killings and arrests were widely condemned by various groups and human rights advocates.

We emphasize that those responsible for these grave human rights violations have yet to be made accountable, even as Duterte ends his term tomorrow. The nefarious use of search warrants, planted evidence and deliberate falsehoods have been repeatedly justified by the NTF-ELCAC despite overwhelming evidence of violations on the rights to due process and against arbitrary arrests and detention.

As Nay Nimfa walks free from jail and as she vowed to continue her human rights work, we likewise call for the immediate release of our other detained human rights workers Alexander Philip Abinguna, Renalyn Tejero, Glendhyl Malabanan, and Alex Pacalda — who experience the same kind of injustice inflicted on Nay Nimfa and have remained courageous despite threats and imprisonment. We demand the release of all 802 political prisoners, 592 of them arrested under Duterte. We demand the end to the attacks including judicial harassment against our human rights workers in the government’s failed attempts to stop us from doing our work and advocacy and to suppress political dissent.

Cristina Palabay
Karapatan Secretary General