The Oikotree Global expressed its anguish over the killing of an young grassroot human rights activist Ms. Zara Alvarez (39) of Negro Province in the Philippines on August 17, 2020. She was gun-downed in Bacolod City in the Western Visayas Region of the Philippines. Ms. Alvarez was a volunteer for the Church-workers’ Solidarity Group in San Carlos Diocese.
She was working among the landless farmers, sugar cane workers, daily wage agriculture labourers and such socially economically vulnerable communities who lost their life and employment due to the new-development policies of the Governments.
She was voicing out for these voiceless communities by initiating and launching solidarity campaigns challenging the policies that make people vulnerable in all sides.
She won the confidence of the people. She was a charismatic community organiser and committed and honest social worker.
The Oikotree considers the brutal killing of Ms. Alvarez was an attack on democracy at large. Such killings are not only frustrating but unacceptable too, because the empires do not allow the Justice-lovers to live anymore. It is a very painful incident to hear indeed! Such human rights violations cannot be accepted by any sound-minded community.
All over the globe, the States have become the agents to serve the corporates and the powerful instead of the people who live at the edges of the societies. The States are becoming inhuman in nullifying and erasing the voices that uplift and uphold the Rights of every vulnerable community. Unfortunately, they even justify such extra-judicial killings, red-tagging, and naming them as anti-nationals saying that these progressive voices are against the Nation and its developments instead of being and becoming a pro-poor they allied with rich and corporates.
Therefore the Oikotree:
· Expresses its solidarity with the progressive movements that advocate and affirm the Earth Rights including Human Rights all over.
· Condemns such brutal, illegal and unconstitutional attacks over the people’s representatives by red-tagging and extra-judicial killings.
· Suggests the Central and Provincial Governments of the Philippines to considerable grant of a compensation to the family of Ms. Zara Alvarez.
· Demands to appoint an independent probe under the sitting judge of the Apex Court of the Philippines.
· Asks the National Human Rights Commission to initiate an independent fact finding visit to the spot to find the facts in the killing of Ms. Alvarez and such others.
· Suggests the United Nations’ Human Rights Commission to send an international team of experts to find the truth and come up with the policies favouring and safeguarding the whistle blowers.
· Invites the national and global ecumenical movements also to initiate a pastoral visit to be with the families and the communities who are under panic by this assault.
God of the Bible heard, and expressed solidarity with, the cry of the shed blood of the innocent victim Abel against Cain. Hence, it is also a duty of God’s community to be in solidarity with the innocent victims of the extra-judicial killings and uphold the Right to life, speaking out against powerful Cains and standing with Abels and Zaras.
The Oikotree, at this time of difficulties joins the World Council of Churches and the National Council of the Philippines in sharing our grieves condolences and the solidarity with the family, friends and colleagues of Zara.
May the shed blood of these martyred ones, do speak, motivate and inspire the human rights advocates and whistle blowers to stand firm in their commitment.
On behalf of the Oikotree
Rev. Prof. Dr. Seong Won Park
August 19, 2020.