Tanggol Bayi: Defend women and queer human rights defenders! Drop trumped-up charges!

Tanggol Bayi stands with human rights defenders against rampant rights violations, particularly the attempted murder charges against human rights defenders Elisa Tita Lubi and Jay Apiag, and the arrest and detention of Renalyn Tejero and Nimfa Lanzanas, to name a few of the many human rights workers harassed and threatened by state elements of the Duterte administration. We stand firm that all these attacks are an outright machination of the Duterte administration to judicially harass and silence human rights workers and progressive individuals.

Elisa Tita Lubi, 79, is a seasoned woman human rights defender, a long-time advocate of women’s rights and human rights, herself being a victim of unjust arrest and detention as a political prisoner in the time of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship. As chairperson of Karapatan, she has led the organization in braving the attacks on human rights defenders and the people, inspiring many to continue the work in documenting, reporting and exposing the worsening human rights situation in the country.

Renalyn Tejero, 25, is a young woman human rights worker of Karapatan Caraga, a member of the Lumad indigenous people who stood in defense of the rights of her people against vicious attacks of intensified militarization, destruction and closure of Lumad schools, and the killings, abduction, arrest and detention of Lumad elders, youth and students, farmers and members of various organizations supporting their defense of their ancestral lands against landgrabbing and large-scale mining and agro-business plantation of monstrous foreign business and local landlords.

Jay Apiag, 33, is a human rights worker of Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region, a National Council member of Karapatan, a member of the LGBTI community and an advocate as well. Despite experiencing wave upon waves of redtagging and harassment in the region, he remained steadfast in standing with the multitudes of people of Mindanao in defending their communities, including farmers under attack, workers stripped off of their rights in the workplace, activists and progressives, including women, who are thrown to jail because of their political beliefs and advocacies.

Nimfa Lanzanas, 61, is a mother, grandmother and paralegal officer of Karapatan Southern Tagalog. She has gone from end to end of the region to visit political prisoners, request documents from courts, lead and participate in fact finding missions in communities that face various attacks on their lives and livelihood. She has worked tirelessly despite the threats against her.

Daisy “Jackie” Valencia, 43, is a mother of twins, a human rights worker of Karapatan Cagayan Valley and a National Council member of Karapatan. She has committed to work for justice and human rights for more than a decade now, heading quick response teams and reaching out to mostly farmers and rural poor of the region. She has never backed down amid the red-tagging and harassment against her by state forces, which has been there for as long as she has been performing human rights work.

Tita, Renalyn, Jay, Nimfa and Jackie are among the many human rights workers who are under constant red-tagging and vilification. Trumped-up charges that are filed against them are from perjured and fabricated testimonies, and the dirty handiwork of planting evidence supposedly seized during police raids on their homes and offices.

We demand that detained women HRDs Renalyn and Nimfa be released. We also demand the release of other detained human rights defenders Teresita Naul and Alexander Philip Abinguna, both arrested in 2020.

We call to dismiss the trumped-up charges against Tita, Jay and Jackie, among other women human rights defenders. We likewise condemn all forms of judicial harassment faced by human rights workers, like the perjury case filed by National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. against Karapatan’s national officers.

While the state calls human rights workers and advocates as “terrorists,” there is clearly no worst form of terrorism than state-sponsored attacks from a regime that stays in power by silencing the people. The real terrorists are those who coddle killers, abductors and criminals in their midst, and use their might and power against the poor and oppressed.

However, we women human rights defenders will raise our voices whenever and wherever, behind bars, beneath our face masks, and from all ends of our communities and the country. In the face of threats, judicial harassment, State repression and terror, we will prove that we are women unbound.

Women human rights defenders, raise our voices against continuing attacks on our rights!