An open letter to Human Rights Watch on EJKs, Duterte, and Karapatan

Karapatan has also continued its important work of documenting killings of political activists and other civilians by paramilitary groups and state forces, even while most international and local attention has focused on the drug killings.

For the month of February 2017, the organization documented 14 killings of civilian political activists following the Philippine government’s withdrawal from peace talks and the declaration of an all out war on the New Peoples Army (NPA) by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.  

Previous administration’s counterinsurgency programs against the NPA have not just targeted armed rebels. State forces have killed unarmed union, peasant, and indigenous activists from progressive organizations tagged by the state as communist sympathizers.

Sadly, it appears the Duterte administration’s Oplan Kapayapaan counterinsurgency program is just history repeating itself.  

With both the drug killings and the renewed counterinsurgency against the Left, Karapatan, and other Filipino people’s organizations, will be very busy over the coming months and years with difficult work. (READ: Confronting extrajudicial killings under Duterte)

Mr Kine should show more respect to an organization which is actually on the ground in the Philippines working day in and day out with victims of human rights abuses and preventing further abuses from happening.  

If he continues making baseless criticisms of one of the Philippines' foremost human rights organizations, it will be harder for many of us in the international community concerned with human rights and justice to take his analysis seriously.  

Cameron Walker recently completed a Law/Arts degree at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.  He volunteers with Auckland Philippines Solidarity