Human Rights First to Present Philippines Organization Karapatan with William D. Zabel Human Rights Award
NEW YORK — Human Rights First today announced that it will present Karapatan Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights with its annual William D. Zabel Human Rights Award in recognition of its commitment to human rights in the Philippines.
The award has been presented annually for more than three decades and acknowledges the work of courageous activists on the frontlines of the struggle for freedom and human rights. Karapatan is a Philippines-based alliance of human rights organizations, programs, committees, and individual advocates that have been at the forefront of the struggle for human rights in the country since 1995.
“Human Rights First has tremendous respect and admiration for Karapatan and the work done by Tinay Palabay,” said Michael Breen, president and CEO of Human Rights First. “They are human rights defenders whom the government of Philippines regularly targets, and we hope this award, and our ongoing partnership, helps shine a bright light on their efforts and shields them from additional threats.”
With more than forty member organizations and sixteen regional chapters across the country, Karapatan addresses extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, political prisoners and militarization all across the Philippines. The Alliance helps organize mass actions that expose human rights violations and challenge State policies and actions that promote the culture of impunity.
Karapatan documents human rights violations through fact-finding missions; files cases through courts, even quasi-judicial bodies like the Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations, and other international human rights bodies. It also refers victims to medical professionals and groups for psycho-social and additional assistance; and organizes victims of human rights violations and their families.
It also monitors peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines and the nation’s adherence to the Comprehensive Agreement on the Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law and other agreements.
“Fifteen human rights workers of Karapatan 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,” said Tinay Palabay of Karapatan. “This recognition is an homage to their memory and legacy of selflessness, compassion and service to the poor and oppressed and 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.”
Human Rights First and Karapatan are currently working on a pilot project testing “Digital Shield,” an application that tracks threats of violence and harassment made against the organization and its members online.
The William D. Zabel Human Rights Award is presented each year to human rights leaders and organizations that have distinguished themselves for their work advancing rights, justice and equality for those suffering persecution and violations of their rights. Recent Zabel Award recipients include ALQST for Human Rights, which monitors and documents human rights abuses in Saudi Arabia; Miroslava Cerpas Hernández, who promotes the rights of migrants and refugees displaced by violence in Honduras; Friar Tomás González, who protects vulnerable migrants on the Mexican border; Yazidi human rights activists Khaleel Aldakhi and Ameena Saeed Hasan; European antisemitism activists Jane Braden-Golay, Siavosh Derakhti, and Niddal El-Jabri; 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.
To speak with Michael Breen or others at Human Rights First, please contact [email protected], (202) 412-4270.