This quotation from the Bible reminds us that there people who speak the truth and walk the path of serving the needy and the oppressed. However, there are also those, especially the ones in power, who do them violence and even bring them death just so they can be stopped from their selfless service.
Willem Geertman, a Dutch missionary and development worker based in the Philippines who was gunned down in broad day light and the 95 other reported victims of extra judicial killings of activists, church workers and human rights defenders since Benigno Aquino III became president in June 2010,are some of the people that the Bible’s passage above refers to.
The Sunday scripture reading “On the death of John the Baptist” (Mark 6: 14–29) more than ever reminds us of the sufferings and brutal murder of John the Baptist at the hands of King Herod. In the present time, the extra judicial killings in the Philippines and the continued culture of impunity in the country remind us that those who reign in power – the modern-day Herods – will do even the worst and most vile of deeds to preserve the status quo and the benefits they and their benefactors get from it. Thus, they destroy everyone who goes against them.
Guided by the scriptures and the call for Christians to speak of the truth, the Kowloon Union Church raises grave concern on the human rights situation in the Philippines and demands justice for the victims.
It is even more disappointing that the number of killings of human rights defenders in the Philippines continue to grow despite the widespread call for justice, peace and respect for human rights inside and outside the Philippines.
Last May 29, the Philippines was again subjected to a second cycle of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council Universal Periodic Review (UPR). The Secretary General of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP), Rev. Fr. Rex Reyes visited Hong Kong recently and shared the human rights situation in the Philippines and what transpired during the UPR in a public forum by the Hong Kong Campaign for the Advancement of Human Rights and Peace in the Philippines (HKCAHRPP) co-organized with the Kowloon Union Church and other HK groups. In his sharing, Fr. Rex mentioned that many powerful governments, some of whom were the United States of America, Germany, Australia and even The Holy See, called the attention of the Philippine government to immediately stop extrajudicial killings and end human rights violations in the Philippines.
The issue of human rights in the Philippines is deeply rooted in its system and KUC is a witness to the thousands of Filipino women who are forced to leave their own families and work in Hong Kong and elsewhere in order to survive. Forced migration is itself a violation of fundamental rights of the people and the system that breeds forced migration is what those who have been fallen, like Willem Geertman, strive to change.
As Christians, we speak the truth and despite the challenges, we in KUC will continue to be one with all people calling to stop the killings of human rights defenders in the Philippines and for justice to be finally achieved by all the victims of human rights violations.#