For Immediate Release -- Monday, February 26, 2007
POLITICAL KILLINGS IN THE PHILIPPINES MUST STOP
Delegation to visit Canada, U.S., and Europe to draw international attention to attacks on activists
Toronto: It is part of the daily routine for million s of parents around the world-taking your child to s chool in the morning.
But for Dr. Constancio (Ch andu) Claver and his family, that routine activity was cruelly interrupted by a hail of bullets on Monday, July 31, 2006. While Dr. Claver survived the assassina tion attempt, his wife, Alyce, did not. She succumbed to her injuries later that day. The couple's 11-yea r-old daughter, Cassandra, was uninjured but severely tr aumatized by the attack.
Between March 4 to 9, 2007, Dr. Claver, a medical doctor serving indigenous communities in the Philippines, will be travelling in Canada as part of a five-member delegation of prominen t church leaders and human rights activists from the Philippines, to speak on behalf of the more than 800 human rights workers and lawyers, journalists, church workers, labour organizers, peasant leaders, and leader s of political organizations who have been killed sinc e 2001.
Their message is a simple one. Help us to stop the killings. It is a message that is e choed in the following words from an open letter from the Claver family following Alyce's assassination: " Many lives have been taken and many more are in dange r. Anyone amongst us who dares speak out against the evil rampant in our land is a virtual target. But let us not wallow in despair or be paralyzed with fear. Let us call upon our countrymen to be more u nited in fighting this reign of injustice. Let us te ll the world of this state-sponsored terrorism that is ravaging our country today. Let not the death of Aly ce, and the others before her, be in vain."
In an effort to draw international attention and to appeal for action to press the Philippine government t o stop the killings, the Philippine delegation will be meeting with government and church officials and othe r groups of concerned Canadian citizens in Toronto, Ottaw a, and Montreal. They will then travel to New York, Washington, D.C., to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, and to The Hague for the Pe rmanent Peoples' Tribunal.
In addition to Dr. Clav er, the delegation includes the following:
Ms. Mar ie Hilao-Enriquez has been a leading figure in the Phil ippine human rights movement for the past 30 years. Marie is the General Secretary of KARAPATAN, a leading human rights advocacy and monitoring alliance in the Philippines.
Fr. Jose Dizon is the Executive Di rector of the Workers Assistance Center, Inc. (WAC), w hich he founded in 1995 to provide services for work ers in export processing zones. In response to the esca lation of human rights violations and political killings since 2001, he joined with other advocates to form a Movement for Justice, Peace and Good Governance o f which he is the spokesperson.
Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Duremdes is the first woman to be elected Genera l Secretary of the National Council of Churches in t he Philippines (NCCP) and the only woman in Asian ch urches to hold this position. The Protestant churches have paid dearly for their human rights and justice advocacy. Twenty-two Protestant ministers and workers have been killed since 2001.
Bishop Eliezer Pascua i s the General Secretary of the United Church of Chri st in the Philippines (UCCP). Thirteen UCCP pastors and church workers have been assassinated since 2001, the cost of the church's unwavering commitment to and d irect involvement in human rights and justice work.
The delegation's visit is organized and sponsored by The United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development an d Peace, and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiat ives.
To arrange media interviews with the Philipp ine delegation, please contact:
Mary-Frances Denis Communications Officer The United Church of Canada 416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (business)
Bern Jagunos Program Coordinator, East Asia and the Philippines
The United Church of Canada 416-231-7680 ext. 4077 (business)
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