Philippine human rights group Karapatan this week received the “William D. Zabel Human Rights Award” in recognition of its “commitment to advance peoples rights” in the country.
The Award is presented each year by the American advocacy group Human Rights First to human rights leaders and organizations that distinguished themselves for their work.
Among recent recipients of the award are Friar Tomás González, who protects vulnerable migrants on the Mexican border; Dr. Denis Mukwege of the Democratic Republic of Congo, who later went on to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize; and human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng of China.
Michael Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First, expressed hope that the award will help “shine a bright light” on Karapatan’s “efforts and shields them from additional threats.”
With more than 40 member organizations and sixteen regional chapters across the country, Karapatan addresses extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, political prisoners, and “militarization.”
The alliance helps organize mass actions that expose human rights violations and challenge state policies and actions that allegedly promote the “culture of impunity.”
Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, said 15 human rights workers of the organization have been killed in the past five years, “nearly 70 since 2001, and many more are imprisoned or are facing judicial harassment and threats because of their work in defending human rights.”
“This recognition is an homage to their memory and legacy of selflessness, compassion and service to the poor and oppressed,” she said.
“We continue to honor them every day as we do the best that we can in advocacy, documentation, direct services and movement-building in the Philippines,” added Palabay.