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Stop the Killings

Sr. Simonne Sergeant, icm

As a member of the solidarity movement Stop the Killings (in the Philippines, Guatemala, Colombia and Peru) we have our yearly action on December 10, International Day of Human Rights.

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Every year we put into the limelight a person or an organization in countries which take great risks in defending Human Rights in whatever sector.  This year we focused on environmental HR-activists and climate defenders, because of the coincidence of our action with the COP 21 in Paris.  The activists must be supported and nominated by a partner organization in Belgium.  Four countries were nominated which have been supported locally.


This year was the third time that we opened online voting for the nominees.  We opened the voting in November.  Our target was to get about a thousand votes.  Last year we reached 750 votes.  We reached our target number!


On November 30 the result was  presented to a professional jury of academics, trade unionists, journalists of the alternative press, environmental experts and NGOs.  They got the documented files earlier within the month.  The voice of the people was a weighty factor, but the winner was within the discretion of the jury.


On Human Rights Day we always start the action with a manifestation within the centre or touristic belt of the capital.  From there we march to the place where the STK-HR-Award is proclaimed and handed over.

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This year we went through a lot of tension and uncertainty till the very last moment, about the permission to gather and march within the city.  As you may remember, in the aftermath of the Paris attack on November 13, Belgium too became a country under suspicion.  Until now we have terror alarm 3 all over the country, because of a Belgian suspect-terrorist, who has not yet been located.  Ultimately we got the permission and police escort.  The fewer number of participants, which still reached to a few hundreds, was due to this uncertainty and fear of another terrorist attack.


The Filipino Lumad-minorities won the award, and we were so lucky to have a prominent representative  around at that time.  28% of the votes were given in sympathy to the plight of the Lumads in Minadanao, Philippines.

You can read and see all this in the following reports.

 Facebook page Stop the Killings Belgium


Yet, every vote for a HR-activist is a right choice.   In that sense, there are no losers or winners.  Here are the other three finalists who also deserve our support and prayers.


 1.  Maxima Acuña de Chaupe from Peru: a peasant woman who refused to sell their ancestral land to the mining company Yanacocha.  In 2011 the company brought her to court, but by 2014 the family won the case.  Their land is now as en enclave in the midst of the mining district.  Because of her moral strength, Maxima became the symbol of resistance against exploitation.  Yet, she and her family pay a high price of intimidations.


 2.  The labor committee on environment of the town of Palmeras, Colombia.   The committee is part of the labor union Fensuagro, in alliance with the syndicate Sintraimagra.  It does not only defend the rights of laborers in the agriculture industry, but is also very much involved with the protection of the ecosystem, especially with the contamination produced by the Mañuelita company of palm oil.


3.  The Association of Maya Lawyers in Guatemala.  Offers judicial aide to the local communities in their struggle against big landowners, multinationals and other megalomaniac projects which cause expropriation, repression of resistant groups and environmental pollution.  In 2015, one of the founders of the association, Amilcar Pop, also a representative of Parliament, brought President Molina himself to court, at the price of several assaults on his life.  All the commotion around this issue has finally forced Molina to withdraw  and to call for new elections.

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