On Dec. 9, attendees gathered at a post-press conference at St. Luke’s ~ San Lucas Episcopal Church in Vancouver, Wash. celebrating the launch of ICHRP-US. ICHRP, or the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, supports advocacy to help educate people on supporting a just and lasting peace in the Philippines.

By Rhondalei Gabuat

Vancouver, Wash. – On December 9, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines – U.S. chapter launched with human rights leaders from 24 cities across the U.S. taking up a national campaign to stop the killings in the Philippines.

On the days leading up to the launch, various organizations held actions for 10 days in December for People’s Rights in the Philippines, including Seattle’s Beacon United Methodist Church. During their monthly Crossroads Vespers Service on December 3, they invited the community to share their stories of migration and held a vigil in honor of International Migrant’s Day. BAYAN PNW members lead the discussion about forced migration and noting some of the reasons why people leave from the Philippines to the U.S. particularly due to the worsening human rights crisis. They also talked about how they can support by joining the upcoming launch of ICHRP-PNW in Portland, Oregon.

The United Methodist Church has been involved in advocating for the well-being of the Philippine people. At the 2016 General Conference, Resolution #6118 was adopted to work with Philippine annual conferences “…in joint undertakings to address the peace and human rights situation in the Philippines.” Our own Bishop Elaine JW Stanovsky shared a message of solidarity, thanking ICHRP for the invitation and offering prayers to the national gathering: “As you gather in Portland to demand justice, you are partners with God, who tears down dividing walls, lifts up the lowly, and puts the powerful in their rightful place. I send my full support and the blessings as you work to respect and protect human dignity and peace with justice to the Philippines.”

The objectives and goals for the launch of the campaign “Stop the Killings! Never Again to Fascist Dictatorship in the Philippines! Solidarity is Our Duty” included:

  1. Educate the broadest sectors of U.S. society of the intensifying human rights crisis in the Philippines and the role of U.S. tax dollars in supporting human rights abuses by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippines National Police (PNP), and other Philippine state forces.
  2. Build the broadest opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s “War on Drugs”, “War on Terror” (Martial Law in Mindanao), the counter-insurgency war “Oplan Kapayapaan”, and to the rising fascism and threat of a Duterte dictatorship.
  3. End U.S. military aid (financial, training and arms) to the AFP and the PNP and stop U.S. military intervention in the Philippines.
  4. Generate moral, political and material support to victims and survivors of human rights violations.
  5. Build people-to-people solidarity between ICHRP-US member and allied organizations and communities in the Philippines (fundraising, solidarity missions).
  6. Push for the resumption of peace talks and the implementation of the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) and promote comprehensive economic and social reforms (CASER) to address the roots of armed conflict.

The implementation of the campaign will be overseen by a national coordinating committee with representatives from chapters, regional networks, and the working groups that were formed during the launch. Organizations and individuals are encouraged to join ICHRP.

The ICHRP-PNW launch on Sunday, December 10 (historically International Human Rights Day) began with worship at First Congregational United Church of Christ in Portland, Oregon with guest speaker Bishop Reuel Norman O. Marigza who serves as UCC Philippines General Secretary.

Attendees at the launch of ICHRP-US Assembly in Vancouver listened to messages and greetings from bishops, local political figures, and other organizers in solidarity of this coalition that addresses human rights issues in the Philippines.

He spoke about the worsening human rights violations in the Philippines and even those who serve Christ are not spared in Duterte’s war. The people may be afflicted, but not crushed. They may be struck down, but not destroyed.

That they are not forsaken and never alone. We were reminded that Filipinos are people of hope and where there is fear, we summon courage. Following service, we joined the community for ICHRP’s 4th Annual International Human Rights Day Commemoration, “Do You Hear The People Sing?” where we enjoyed music, live painting, spoken word and celebrated the 17 organizations and 2 individuals that consist of the ICHRP-PNW chapter, all in solidarity for human rights in the Philippines.

For more information please visit the Facebook page.

Rhondalei Gabuat serves as a district administrator for Seattle, Tacoma, and Inland Districts.

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