Senator Leila M. de Lima has thanked Canadian Senator Marilou McPhedran for adding her voice to the snowballing calls by some quarters demanding justice for her as she continues to face fake and absurd drug charges under Mr. Duterte’s oppressive rule.
De Lima, the first prominent political prisoner under the present administration, said she appreciates McPhedran’s initiative to call on the international community to reaffirm its commitment to protecting women’s human rights defenders, including herself.
“Women human rights defenders, not just in the Philippines but also across the world, have become vulnerable to harassment, misogynistic attacks and other gender-based abuses, which they – or we – do not deserve,” she said.
“By expressing her concern about my plight and that of other women human rights defenders in other countries, Senator McPhedran has reminded us that human rights should be fought for by all as it knows neither boundaries nor nationalities. I am both humbled and thankful for her effort,” she added.
On the occasion of the 19th Anniversary of the United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security in New York City last Nov. 1, McPhedran denounced the continued abuses and attacks against global women human rights defender, like De Lima, “who have been assassinated, jailed, [or] held arbitrarily.”
In particular, McPhedran cited the respective cases of De Lima and Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh whom the former believed to have “spoken the truth to very repressive regimes and have both ended up in jail as a result.”
“Senator Leila de Lima, in the Philippines, was brave enough to confront the President of the Philippines Duterte and as a result she has been jailed on charges that bear no relationship to reality. It is a growing concern for her health and for the impact on civil society in the Philippines,” McPhedran said about De Lima.
McPhedran also added: “We will not have a peaceful world, we will not have a secure world, we will not be able to live right until women human rights defenders like these are protected, released and allowed to thrive.”
Amid the continued oppression of women who are critical of the present Duterte regime, the lady Senator from Bicol said it is high time for the entire Filipino people to work together for the empowerment of women in society.
“Allowing the government to continue attacking human rights defenders, including women, is like throwing away a chance to have a humane and just society that upholds the rule of law and shuns tyranny,” she said.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champions, has maintained that her continued unjust and illegal detention is connected to her vocal criticisms of the Duterte administration’s bloody war on drugs and other anti-human rights policies, as well as Mr. Duterte’s vindictiveness. (30)