A renown educator has conveyed his solidarity to Senator Leila M. de Lima whom he referred to as one of the prisoners of conscience in the ranks as Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi, Dr. Jose Rizal, and Benigno Aquino Jr., among others.
In his letter he sent to the Senator last Nov. 2, Hong Kong-based Professor James Rice said De Lima’s continued unjust detention has valuably contributed to the promotion of justice and human rights across the world.
“Regardless of how you are feeling now, please know, that you are among those few individuals who are prisoners of conscience and whose time in detention has contributed ultimately to change for the better,” said Rice, a professor at the Lingnan University.
“Like all of these individuals, you are destined to make history,” he added, referring to Mandela, King, Suu Kyi, Rizal, Aquino, Vacalav Havel and Liu Xiao Bo.
Like the former prisoners of conscience cited by Rice, De Lima also worked to achieve human rights by openly speaking out on issues that challenge the present administration.
She is among the few senators who dared to oppose and criticize the President’s all-out war on drugs, eventually leading to her illegal arrest and unjust detention based on trumped-up charges of illegal drug trading.
Rice said the Senator deserves the respect and recognition not only of her fellow Filipinos, but also of citizens abroad. He congratulated her for adding another feather on her cap by winning the prestigious “Prize for Freedom” award from Liberal International (LI).
“Somehow I doubt that merely winning wards means much to you, but it reflects the fact that people all over the world recognize not only your contributions to the struggle for justice and rule of law in the Philippines, but also the grave injustice that has been done to you as a result of that struggle,” he said.
During its 199th Executive Committee meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa last month, the LI has announced it is conferring the Prize for Freedom – the global federations’ highest human rights honor — to De Lima.
Amid the political persecution she is subjected to under the Duterte administration, Rice encouraged her to “keep strong in the faith,” pointing out that human rights, dignity and truth will prevail in the end.
Rice’s letter is the 13th in a series of letters that have been sent to the Senator. The educator noted that he has also been regularly writing to three of his students–activists Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Willis Ho–who were all imprisoned for openly expressing their political beliefs.