Human rights advocate: Activism is not terrorism

JOANNA Patricia Kintanar Cariño, Gwangju Prize for Human Rights awardee, was welcomed by peers and colleagues in a celebratory homecoming.

“This is a recognition that activism is not terrorism and that human rights advocacy is honorable. Let us continue with the struggle, in the face of historical revisionism, and the resurgence of tyranny and dictatorship, let us hold on to the lessons of the Gwangju Democratic Uprising and the 1986 People Power in the Philippines. We should always remember, we should never forget,” Cariño said.

Cariño shared her acceptance speech saying the award was a vindication of a lifelong vocation to defend and promote democracy and human rights.

“It is ironic that while the repressive Philippine Duterte regime labels human rights activists such as myself as terrorists, prestigious foreign institutions such as the May 18 Memorial Foundation recognizes my human rights activism as honorable,” Cariño added.

“Human rights make us human. With every violation of human rights, our humanity is diminished. The human spirit can take only so much oppression, however, before resistance develops. Repression breeds resistance. To stand up for human rights, to resist tyranny, and to rebel against an oppressive system is justified,” she continued.

Cariño also took note of the parallelisms between South Korea and the Philippines who both struggled against dictatorships.

The UN awardee said the 1980 Gwangju Democratic Uprising resulted in the democratization movement which toppled a dictator and le the return of civilian rule in South Korea while the 1986 People Power uprising in the Philippines likewise demolished a dictator and put an end to martial law.

“It would seem that these are clear judgments of history from the people’s point of view,” Cariño quipped.

Cariño shared her award with my organizations like the Cordillera People’s Alliance, Selda, the organization of former political prisoners, and Sandugo, the national Alliance of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination.


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