UN rights expert, int’l rights groups express concern on the killing of Zara Alvarez

The international human rights community expressed concern on the killing of Karapatan paralegal and health worker Zara Alvarez, as various organizations in the Philippines and abroad conducted a global day of action today, August 19, against extrajudicial killings in the country. 

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor said, in a tweet on August 18 through @MaryLawlorhrds, that it is “so terrible to hear that WHRD [woman human rights defender] Zara Alvarez of @karapatan was shot and killed in the #Philippines last night.” She added that Alvarez had been “smeared, red-tagged and threatened for years.” 

 

 

In a statement, the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), a regional network of feminist organisations and individuals with 248 members from 27 countries in Asia Pacific, strongly condemned the killing of Alvarez. “The death of even one human rights defender is way too many...We demand justice for Zara along with other human rights defenders who have been victims of extrajudicial killings,” APWLD stated.

In a tweet through @ESCRNet, the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, with 280 members including Karapatan in 75 countries, expressed “outrage at the killings of human rights defenders in the Philippines.

 

 

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), urged Philippine authorities “to carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into her [Alvarez’s] murder, to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law.” They also called on their network to call on the authorities to “put an end to all acts of harassment against all human rights defenders in the Philippines, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals.”

In a series of tweets via @ISHRglobal, the International Service for Human Rights expressed solidarity with Karapatan “in grief and indignation” on the killing of Alvarez. “The Anti-Terrorism Law passed last month means threats and attacks against defenders have further increased in the Philippines,” ISHR said. It added that “together with national civil society and UN Special Procedures, we urge for an independent investigation mechanism into the human rights situation in the Philippines.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a Facebook post, Karapatan’s Belgium-based partner Viva Salud expressed solidarity with Filipino human rights defenders, upon hearing the news on the killing of Alvarez and peace consultant Randy Echanis. “My thoughts go out to Ka Randy and Zara's families and comrades in the Philippines. I feel their sorrow. But I'm also worried about my friends in the Philippine movement. I can imagine many of them fear for their lives now too. But I am convinced that international solidarity encourages them to continue their fight for the right to health and a just and lasting peace. Mabuhay! Padayon! Long live life!” Wim De Ceukelaire, director of Viva Salud.