Justice for Zara Alvarez | National Union of Public and General Employees

Justice for Zara Alvarez

Alvarez was an educator and a rights defender. She was a member of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT) and a prominent activist with the Negros Island Health Integrated Program and Karapatan, a human rights coalition.

Ottawa (26 August 2020) — The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is horrified by the killing of Zara Alvarez, a prominent activist in the Philippines. NUPGE condemns this senseless killing and joins the calls for justice.

In a letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, François-Philippe Champagne, NUPGE President Larry Brown called on the Canadian government to speak out and to take immediate action to address the human rights situation in the Philippines.

Mourning the loss of a strong advocate, trade unionist

Zara Alvarez, a trade unionist and an advocate for human rights, was killed in Bacolod City on August 17 by unidentified gunmen.

Alvarez was an educator and a rights defender. She was a member of the Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines (ACT) and a prominent activist with the Negros Island Health Integrated Program and Karapatan, a human rights coalition. She had previously been targeted by the Duterte administration and imprisoned.

According to a statement from ACT, “Zara tirelessly fought alongside fellow teachers for decent salaries and humane working conditions and was instrumental in establishing the local chapter of ACT Region VI Union, while simultaneously volunteering for other humanitarian efforts in Bacolod. Her dedication to serve the disadvantaged in the face of overwhelming adversities reignited the same passion that pushed thousands of teachers to enter the profession, despite the crises-ridden public education system.”

Canadian gov. has a responsibility to speak out

Larry Brown, NUPGE's President, wrote to Minister Champagne to urge him and his government “to take immediate action to address the human rights situation in the Philippines and the culture of impunity fostered by the Duterte administration.”

Brown’s letter reiterates the calls made by over 25 organizations, including NUPGE, in a July letter to Minister Champagne about the increased attacks against rights defenders under the Duterte government. The killing of Zara Alvarez — the latest in a number of recent murders of activists and rights defenders — reinforces these concerns.

“I ask that you and your fellow Cabinet members raise these issues, including the killing of Zara Alvarez, with your counterparts in the Philippines,” wrote Brown. “As we and our allies wrote in the July 17 letter, I urge your government to exert diplomatic and other pressure on the Duterte administration and in international spaces like the UN Human Rights Council."


NUPGE

The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE