Today (November 29) is International Women Defenders of Human Rights Day, and Gabriela BC remembers and honours the courageous women in the Philippines and around the world who risk their lives for justice and people’s liberation. While we celebrate the work and tenacity of these women, we also continue to call for justice for those who are harassed, jailed, and murdered. We resist and condemn the US-Duterte regime’s attacks on women who criticize, mobilize, and fight against its terror, abuse, and exploitation.
As of September 2018, there are more than 500 political prisoners, 45 of whom are women. In the 2 years of Rodrigo Duterte’s presidency, 141 people have been extrajudicially murdered, with 33 of these victims being women. 1,265 people have been victims of illegal arrest. In October, 5 women were illegally arrested and detained, including Gabriela Women’s Party organizer Eulalia Ladesma, who was tortured by the Philippine National Police (PNP), and Hedda Calderon, former Gabriela Deputy Secretary General. Four women were arrested with Calderon in Santa Cruz, Laguna. This month, human rights Attorney Katherine Panguban was harassed and threatened by the PNP for assisting a 14-year old witness to the Sagay massacre of 9 sugarcane workers. Panguban was accused of trumped up charges of kidnapping and illegal detention of the child, despite the child being in righteous custody of his own mother.
Despite these attacks on the people and on human rights defenders, women continue to fight for justice, dignity, and liberation. They continue to resist feudalism, under which landless women face patriarchal violence and exploitation. They continue to resist bureaucrat capitalism, which force women into abusive, underpaid, and cyclical relations of labour in the workplace and in their homes. They continue to resist imperialism, which forces Filipinos to migrate abroad as the Philippines is pillaged of resources and workers. When the people struggle against these root causes of oppression and are met with police violence, militarization, and martial law, women defenders continue to struggle with them.
Our work as Gabriela BC honours these women beyond this day. We also continue to extend our solidarity towards all human rights defenders around the world who face violence and murder for their work. Their fight shows us that human rights are not fundamentally given under capitalism and imperialism, but must be defended and struggled for collectively.
Solidarity with women human rights defenders!
Resist the attacks! Defend people’s rights!
Long live women’s liberation! Long live international solidarity!
* We acknowledge that we work and live on the unceded and stolen Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations.