Petition: call for international solidarity to support environmental defenders Victoria Tauli-Corpuz & Joan Carling

The Women’s Major Group, a network of feminist and women’s rights organizations and activists, and our allies denounce the recent announcement of activists as terrorists by the Philippines Department of Justice, under the current President Rodrigo Duterte. These activists are human rights and environmental defenders, indigenous peoples, and colleagues that we have worked alongside with in pushing for a comprehensive 2030 Agenda, Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement, and other global UN landmark decisions.

We are horrified to see feminist and indigenous activists that have worked tirelessly for a world where No One is Left Behind. These include our colleagues Joan Carling, former Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) Secretary-General and current Organizing Partner for the Indigenous People’s Major Group; Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; Beverly Longid, global coordinator of the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and co-chair of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE); Elisa Tita Lubi, former interim Regional Coordinator of the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD) and founding Vice Chairperson of Gabriela Women’s Party; Windel Bolinget, Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Chairperson; Jose Molintas, former member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; and other activists that total to 1000  human rights and environmental defenders being targeted in trumped-up charges.

The charges made against these defenders go against the spirit of the Sustainable Development Goals. Our colleagues in the Philippines, similar to what our colleagues are doing in every region of the world, are ensuring food security through sustainable and accessible practices (Goal 1, 2, 12 & 15); establishing clinics, schools, and jobs (Goal 3, 4, 8, 9 & 11); empowering women and other disenfranchised groups to politically participate (Goal 5); protecting the ecosystems and the commons especially in the face of climate change (Goal 6, 7, 13 & 14); all while organizing collectively in their communities to address structural inequalities as rights-based holders (Goal 10, 16 & 17).

How can the 2030 Agenda plan for action for people, planet, prosperity, peace, and partnership when our colleagues are being harassed and criminalized? How are indigenous people listed as a vulnerable group that needs to be empowered to achieve the 2030 Agenda, yet when they speak up, their safety is put at risk?  How is it that the role of local communities and indigenous peoples are recognized in achieving the targets and goals set in Paris and the 2030 Agenda, when they are being arrested or murdered? How are we fighting for universal peace when leaders call civil society terrorists, from Philippine President Duterte to UN Environment Programme Executive Director Erik Solheim, who at the 3rd UN Environment Assembly (UNEA-3) equated civil society to terrorist.

We therefore call on the Philippine government to:

  1. Remove the names of indigenous peoples’ leaders and human rights defenders from the list of alleged terrorists;
  2. Ensure the physical safety of indigenous peoples’ leaders and human rights defenders;
  3. Have the Philippine president make a public apology for the emotional and physical harm he has caused for activists, and;
  4. Abide by State obligations to protect human rights and fundamental freedoms, including access to justice, freedom of expression and of association.

We call on the UN Secretary-General, UN agencies, and UN Member States to ensure protection of these activists and our colleagues that participate in the very corridors of the UN we engage in, especially in a time where last year served as the deadliest year for human rights and environmental defenders.

The Women’s Major Group stands firm in our solidarity to ensure the protection of these activists!






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