Filipino human rights defenders from Karapatan and the Rise Up for Life and for Rights, along with Europe-based rights advocates and Filipino migrants, are currently in Reykjavik, Iceland for a series of meetings and advocacy activities on the Philippine human rights situation.
Karapatan Western Mindanao Chairperson and Iglesia Filipina Independiente Bishop Antonio Ablon and Rise Up for Life and for Rights members Marissa Lazaro, mother of a victim of extrajudicial killing, and Redemptorist Bro. Ciriaco Santiago, also a photojournalist, were joined by representatives of various groups in a meeting yesterday, September 19, with Rósa Björk Brynjólfsdóttir, a Member of Parliament from the Left – Green Movement (Vinstrihreyfingin – grænt framboð)and a member of the Economic and Trade Committee, Foreign Affairs Committee, Environment and Transport Committee and Business Committee of the Icelandic government. Leaders of Migrante Europe, Nagkakaisang Pilipino sa Pransya, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP)-Europe and the Europe Network for Justice and Peace (ENJP) also joined them.
Ablon and Lazaro shared with Brynjólfsdóttir the accounts and stories on the gross human rights violations under the Duterte administration. Both gave testimonies on the plight of kin of victims of EJKs and the attacks against rights defenders, including church workers, in the Philippines. This, Ablon said, is made more pronounced as the Philippines is placed under a de facto martial law situation.
Representatives of the rights groups also had a meeting with Bishop of Iceland, Agnes M. Sigurðardóttir of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Iceland and heads of the Icelandic Church Aid and several other ministries. They invited the churches in Iceland to support the plight of workers, peasants and the poor in the Philippines, as they face Duterte’s authoritarian rule with the sham drug war and ongoing attacks in line with the government’s counterinsurgency program.
“We feel this kinship with the Icelandics because of the Iceland government’s role in initiating and pushing for the adoption of the resolution on the Philippine human rights situation. We invite you to partake in this significant journey towards a just and lasting peace in the Philippines,” Ablon said.
Bishop Sigurðardóttir also expressed sympathy and solidarity with relatives of victims of extrajudicial killings in the Philippines which she extended through Lazaro.
The delegation of Filipino rights defenders and Europe-based organizations are set to hold meetings with Icelandic government officials in the coming days. An emergency summit on human rights in the Philippines organized by ICHRP-Europe and ENJP will also be held in Reykjavik on September 21, in time for the commemoration of the 47th anniversary of Marcos’s martial law.