APWLD Calls on International Community and States to Recognise and Protect Women Human Rights Defenders’ Work
29th November, 2017
Chiang Mai, Thailand
The 29th of November is International Women Human Rights Defenders Day and today, instead of celebrating the work of Women Human Rights Defenders, APWLD joins our members in the Philippines in mourning and in outrage at the murder of, Elisa Badayos. Elisa was coordinating a fact finding mission in Negros into violations committed by military and private militia when the group of 30 human rights defenders were shot at. Elisa and Elioterio Moises, a member of the local farmers organisation, Mantapi Ebwan Farmers Association, were killed and a youth representative critically injured.
Elisa is at least the fourth Woman Human Rights Defender murdered in the Philippines this year, according to Tanggol Bayi, an association of Women Human Rights Defenders. Countless more women have suffered threats and intimidation in an environment increasingly discarding respect for the rule of law, enabling extra-judicial murder with impunity and encouraging rape culture.
Around the region Women Human Rights Defenders are at increased risk with many governments discarding remnants of respect for human rights and democracy. In India, journalist and advocate for women’s human rights, Gauri Lankesh, was murdered in September. Gauri was a critique of the increasingly repressive environment in India where minorities are targeted while billionaire supporters of the government enriched. Independent In Cambodia the Women’s Media Centre was shut down in September by the government in a broad attack on independent media and civil society and an end to democracy with the opposition banned.
In Myanmar, women who criticise the military and the murders, rapes and ethnic cleansing targeting Rohinga communities are threatened and harassed. Across the region women who speak out in support of women’s sexual rights and freedoms risk threats from both state and non-state actors.
Women who defend land and livelihoods against mining, logging and agricultural interests are most at risk, with 2016 the deadliest so far for environmental rights defenders.
One year ago today we celebrated the release of Maria Chin from solitary confinement from a Malaysian prison after she was detained prior to a mass demonstration by the civil society movement for clean and fair democracy, Bersih. Despite the UN working group finding that her detention was a violation of human rights and that she should be awarded remedies, no action has been taken to provide her with redress.
International Women Human Rights Defenders Day was first honoured in 2006 to recognise women human rights defenders and their contribution to human rights, equality, justice, peace and democracy. To commemorate the 12th International Women Human Rights Defenders Day this year, we call on the international community and States to recognise and protect the work of women human rights defenders, end all forms of persecution and violence against them, and ensure an enabling environment for their courageous act of resistance and activism.