20 December, 2019

Chiang Mai, Thailand/Manila, Philippines

APWLD, together with the undersigned organisations, express our solidarity with Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay and all Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) who are subjected to the relentless and sexist attacks by a government which disregards its commitments to respect and uphold women and people’s rights. This is a worrying trend that WHRDs from across the globe experience, and it is intensified under the banner of authoritarian governments.

Cristina is the current secretary general of Human Rights Alliance Karapatan, and a convener of Tanggol Bayi-Philippines. She is likewise a Regional Council member of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), a regional feminist, membership-based organisation.

On 10 December 2019, hours after demonstrations commemorating the 71st International Human Rights Day, Cristina received a call and a series of texts threatening her with death and the “worst possible things.”  In a follow-up text message, the caller, using the number +63 9275704471, threatened Cristina with rape. In the context of intensifying hostility against human rights defenders in the Philippines, this incident is another alarming concern.

We condemn these threats against Cristina, a Woman Human Rights Defender, who has consistently stood for the defense of women and people’s rights. Cristina as well as her organisation Karapatan, have been the subject of continuous and intensified threats and slanderous campaigns, including a series of red-tagging by military officials in February 2019[1], a separate incident of death threats against Cristina in April 2019[2], trumped-up perjury case against Karapatan and its officers in June 2019[3] and surveillance against Karapatan’s staff in October 2019[4].  Such attacks are meant to harass and intimidate Cristina and other members of Karapatan, which is a common tactic present in all repressive and macho-fascist regimes in the world, but these only serve as a sign of insecure ‘leadership’ that is afraid of the voices of women and rights defenders.

The rise of sexist threats, including messages that incite rape, are indications that women’s rights remain a consistent battleground, especially when our own governments perpetuate and tolerate such attacks against women human rights defenders.  We are gravely concerned about Cristina’s safety and demand a stop to these attacks against her.

As Cristina was labelled a “prostitute” for her work as a human rights defender, we assail attempts to reduce women as mere sexual objects, and to erase what they have been fighting for: equality, human rights, justice and accountability.

We denounce the President for perpetuating this misogynistic culture that has subjected women to harassment since he took office in 2016. We also call out the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ Chief-of-Staff for Civil Military Operations Brig. General Antonio Parlade, Jr. for insinuating that the threats against Cristina are “made up” or that it is “her fault,” following their latest statement on the incident[5].  This is exactly the typical narrative of victim-blaming that State officials have adopted to discredit and deny justice for victims of gender-based violence; in defense of the patriarchal and militarist system targeting defenders who continue to resist.

We call on all women and human rights advocates to speak out against the worsening objectification and intimidation of women and women human rights defenders. In this time of rising patriarchal authoritarianism, it is time for us to assert our space, demand our rights, stand in solidarity with each other, and continue to build movements to make our governments accountable.



[2] https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/asa35/0273/2019/en/





Organisation Country/Region
Ain o Salish Kendra (ASK) Bangladesh
Alay Sining Philippines
Alliance for Future Generations – Fiji Fiji
AMIHAN National Federation of Peasant Women
Philippines – Southeast Asia
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development Thailand
Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact Thailand
Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development Asia Pacific
Asia Resource Foundation (ARF), Thailand
Association of Women for Awareness and Motivation (AWAM) Pakistan
Association for Women’s Rights in Development Global
Association pour la Conservation et la Protection des Ecosystèmes des Lacs et l’Agriculture Durable Democratic Republic of Congo
ATHENA Network Kenya
Awaz Foundation Pakistan – Centre for Development Services, Pakistan
Bai Indigenous Women’s Network Philippines
Balay Alternative Legal Advocates for Development in Mindanaw (BalaodMindanaw Philippines
BanglarManabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) India
Bayan Muna Philippines
BAYAN-Philippines Philippines/Asia Pacific
BirDuino Kyrgyzstan
Bytes for All (B4All) Pakistan
Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC) Cambodia
Center of Regional Science and Development” Kyrgyzstan
Centre d’appui aux Philippines Canada
Centre for Disability in Development (CDD) Bangladesh
Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines United Kingdom
Civil Society and Human Rights Network (CSHRN) Afghanistan
Comite Cerezo Mexico
Community Self-Reliance Centre (CSRC) Nepal
Covenants Watch (CW) Taiwan
Dalit Foundation India
Dignity – Kadyr-kassiyet (KK) Kazakhstan
Federation for Women and Family Planning Poland
FEIM Argentina
Feminist League Kazakhstan
Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Fiji
FOKUS – Forum for Women and Development Norway
Fundación para Estudio e Investigación de la Mujer Argentina
Gabriela Nueva Ecija, Philippines
Gabriela – Southern Mindanao Region Philippines
GABRIELA Washington, D.C. USA
Global Network of Sex Work Projects UK
Globe International Center Mongolia
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) Pakistan
Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) Indonesia
INFORM Human Rights Documentation Centre Sri Lanka
Innabuyog-Gabriela Philippines
KABAR BUMI Indonesia
Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and Rule of Law (KIBHR) Kazakhstan
Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS) South Korea
Kyabaan Inc Philippines
L’Associació. Drets Sexuals i Reproductius Catalonia
Love Care Home India
Madaripur Legal Aid Association (MLAA) Bangladesh
Maldivian Democracy Network (MDN) Maldives
Malyea Foundation Bangladesh
MenEngage Global Alliance USA
Migrante Philippines
Mom Loves Taiwan Association Taiwan
MONFEMNET National Network Mongolia
Naireeta Services Private Limited India
National Commission for Justice and Peace (NCJP), Pakistan
National Indigenous Women’s Federation (NIWF) Nepal
National Indigenous Women Forum Nepal
National Open University of Nigeria Nigeria
National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Women and Children Committee Philippines
Odhikar Bangladesh
Osan migrant’s center South Korea
Panday Sining Philippines
Peace Track Initiative Canada/Yemen
People’s Empowerment Foundation (PEF) Thailand
People’s Solidarity for Participatory Democracy (PSPD) South Korea
People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) India
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA) Philippines
Philippines Australia Solidarity Association (PASA) Victoria, Australia
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity (PACTI) India
PROGRESS Indonesia
Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK) Philippines
Pusat KOMAS Malaysia
Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) Bangladesh
Regional Center for International Uganda
Rights Now Collective for Democracy (RN) Sri Lanka
Right to Life Human Rights Centre (R2L) Sri Lanka
RITES Forum India
Roots for Equity Pakistan
Roshni Tariqiyati Tanzeem Pakistan
Rural Area Development Programme (RADP) Nepal
Rural women’s association Alga Kyrgyzstan
Sabokahan Unity of Lumad Women Philippines
Samahan ng Manggagawang Kaagapay sa Pag-unlad Philippines
Serve the People Association (SPA) Taiwan
SFBSP-Burundi Burundi
Sindh Community Foundation Pakistan
Sisterhood Network (SN) Nagaland, India
Somos Defensoros Colombia
Strategic Initiative for women in the Horn of Africa (SIHA Network) Horn of Africa
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) Malaysia
Sukaar Welfare Organization Pakistan
Tanggol Bayi-Karapatan Philippines
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) Philippines
TDJ-Burundi Burundi
UNITE HERE Local 2 Hotel & Restaurant Employees Union USA
University of Jaffna Sri Lanka
Vietnamese Women for Human Rights (VNWHR) Vietnam
We Women Lanka Sri Lanka
Womankind Worldwide UK
Women Educators Association of Nigeria Nigeria
Women Empowerment Against Poverty of Nepal (WEAPoN) Nepal
Women Engage for a Common Future Netherlands
Women Forum for Women in Nepal Nepal
Women’s Rehabilitation Centre (WOREC) Nepal
Women’s March Global USA/Global
Individuals Country/Region
Lenin Raghuvanshi India
Nancy Brown Canada
Robie Halip Philippines
Esther Bangcawayan Hong Kong
Marianna Leite Portugal
Mariana Winocur Argentina
Daniela Fonkatz Argentina
Carole Straughn USA