Amaryllis “Marie” Hilao Enriquez, a human rights champion in the Philippines, passed away on April 24, 2022, at the age of 68.
She was chairperson of human rights group Karapatan, emeritus head of the group SELDA, and convenor of the Campaign Against the Return of the Marcoses and Martial Law.
“We extend our condolences and love to Marie’s family and friends as we mourn with them this loss shared by human rights violations victims, their families, and communities,” read a Karapatan statement.
Enriquez was a scholar at the College of Medicine at the University of the Philippines – Philippine General Hospital taking up occupational therapy when she became involved in activism in the early 1970s. She eventually joined the youth organization Kabataang Makabayan.
“Tita Marie,” as she was fondly called by friends, was a stalwart in the struggle against the Marcos dictatorship and in the advocacy for justice and accountability of the Marcoses who ruled the country for two decades.
During the years of martial law, Enriquez’s family endured gross human rights abuses. Her sister, student journalist and activist Liliosa, was the first reported case of killing under military detention during after the declaration of martial law.
After Liliosa’s death, Enriquez went underground and continued her work as community organizer. In 1974, she was arrested and tortured, and was detained for two years.
She later became part of the Kapisanan para sa Pagpapalaya at Amnestiya ng mga Detenidong Pulitikal sa Pilipinas, or Kapatid, after she was released from prison and as she campaigned for the release of her detained husband.
After the 1986 People Power uprising, Enriquez joined the Samahan ng Ex-Detainees Laban sa Detensyon at Para sa Amnestiya (SELDA) and helped in the filing of the historic class action suit against Marcos in Hawaii.
Enriquez helped in consolidating data and finding the lead plaintiffs for the class suit against the Marcoses. Her mother and younger sister were two of the ten named plaintiffs in the case.
She led campaigns for justice and reparations of human rights violations victims against the Marcoses, including in the advocacy for the enactment of Republic Act No. 10368, or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act of 2013.
She led the formation of CARMMA in 2016, having campaigned against the alleged “historical lies” of the Marcos family.
Enriquez continued leading campaigns for people’s rights as the founding secretary general of Karapatan during its establishment in 1995 and became its chairperson in 2009.
She worked for the release of political prisoners and the dismissal of trumped up charges against those detained, in pursuing justice for victims of extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances and torture, and in working for the signing and implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law.
Enriquez mentored numerous activists and human rights workers throughout decades.
“We are deeply indebted to her brilliant, selfless and passionate work as among the foremost human rights defenders in the Philippines,” read the Karapatan statement.
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