The Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) is deeply honored that the prestigious 2019 Gwangju Prize for Human Rights is conferred to one of its pioneers and a current member of its Advisory Council, an Ibaloi and staunch defender of human rights, Ms. Joanna Cariño.
This international award is an achievement not only of Joanna Cariño but the whole CPA whom she helped establish in 1984 and worked for until the present. It is a testament and recognition of the legitimacy of her work and that of the CPA as well as the Cordillera peoples’ struggle for our rights to our ancestral lands and self determination, and for national freedom and democracy.
Joanna Cariño highly deserves the award given by the May 18 Memorial Foundation of South Korea to “recognize individuals, groups or institutions that have contributed in promoting and advancing human rights, democracy and peace through their work.” She is an esteemed pioneer of the indigenous peoples’ movement not only in the Cordillera but also in the whole country. She has dedicated her whole life serving the marginalized indigenous peoples and fighting against tyranny and dictatorship and the national oppression of indigenous peoples.
Unfortunately, instead of government recognition and support to the kind of work that Cariño is doing and our struggle for indigenous peoples’ rights and human rights, the Duterte regime is responding with tyranny and fascist attacks against the people. CPA leaders and members are experiencing various forms of human rights violations, such as trumped-up charges, harassment, political vilification, intimidation and military encampment in communities.
Joanna Cariño and leaders and members of the CPA are also continuously being maligned and tagged as “terrorists” by the Duterte regime. While the names of Cariño and other CPA leaders were removed in the amended petition of the Department of Justice to fast track the proscription of the Communist Party of the Philippines and the New Peoples Army as terrorist organizations, there is no guarantee that their names and that of many others will not be declared “terrorists” if the court rules in favor of the DOJ.
This international award, which is not the first for CPA and its leaders, serves as an inspiration for indigenous peoples and human rights defenders in the region and the country.
We sincerely thank the May 18 Memorial Foundation for giving the award, and the Land is Life global network of indigenous peoples for being part of the nomination, and other groups and institutions that recognize and support the Cordillera indigenous peoples’ struggle against fascism, national oppression and for genuine freedom and democracy. Your support and solidarity is highly valued by the Cordillera people especially at this time of Duterte’s tyranny and dictatorship.
Secretary General, CPA