ReSisters Dialogue Statement on the International Day for Women Human Rights DefendersPublished by MAC on 2020-11-30
Source: ReSisters Dialogue
TODAY, we honor the brave women, especially from the rural and indigenous communities.
We, ReSisters from Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, muster every courage in our bones, in the face of militarist, misogynist and authoritarian governments, to say NO to corporations that make profit over our nature; that capitalize on the COVID 19 pandemic to push their agenda of greed.
We say NO to those who wield their power over us so that they can pursue their own economic agenda, that enriches the privileged few and impoverish us women who work hard in the farms, protecting our forests and seas, guarding our mountains, and who are made more vulnerable by COVID 19. We say NO to state violence against women. We say NO to corporate violence against rural and indigenous women.
We say YES to community control over resources and women’s rights to resources. WE say YES to women’s knowledge and practices in managing our natural resources.
RESISTers’ DIALOGUE Statement on the International Day for Women Human Rights Defenders
Nov. 29, 2020
TODAY, we honor the brave women, especially from the rural and indigenous communities – who defend their rights over their lands, their territories, their communities, the environment, and their lives, persistently, bravely.
The COVID 19 pandemic has shown to us the urgent and critical need to protect nature and environment from further degradation, and destruction. When we protect nature, we protect the natural boundaries of wildlife and us, humans. It is the breach of these boundaries, caused by human activities, that brought novel viruses, such as COVID 19, to us. It is then high time that the governments listen to us, women of this earth – we say No to mining. We say NO to capitalist plunder of our lands and water for corporate profits that is unleashing more violence against nature, and against women who resist such attacks against it.
The response to COVID 19 by the states, particularly in Burma, Philippines, India, Indonesia, Thailand and Cambodia – revealed the kind of governments we have – militarist, misogynist and in deep connivance with corporations for the plunder of our natural resources.
In the Philippines, mining operations were allowed to operate in areas which were supposed to be in lockdown. In one particular community in Brgy. Didipio, Kasibu, Nueva Vizcaya, the indigenous women who put up a barricade to prevent the entry of machines of an Australian mining company whose mining permit has already expired, were violently dispersed by the police, to allow the entry of tankers. The indigenous women, who were traumatized by this act of violence, were even charged with breaking the quarantine protocols.
It was also in the early months of quarantine due to COVID 19, that the repressive Anti-Terror Law was passed by the Duterte government. This law institutionalizes the harassment, threats against human rights defenders, tagging them as rebels, and terrorists. It is as if the greatest threat was terrorism, and not the increasing number of COVID 19 cases, and the worsening poverty in our country.
In Burma, the National League for Democracy (NLD) government went ahead with a general election on November 8 in the middle of the deadly second wave of the pandemic, despite lockdowns and the ongoing civil war. Millions of ethnic people were denied their right to vote, making a mockery of the “landslide” victory of the NLD, which now has a further 5-year mandate to continue their brutal military offensives and plunder of indigenous lands and resources. International financial institutions are massively subsidizing this, under the cover of COVID-relief, while communities on the ground are struggling to survive under lockdowns without government aid. In Hpakant, Kachin State, ravaged by large-scale jade mining, families – now landless -- are facing starvation, and women have died in childbirth from lack of emergency medical care. COVID 19 restrictions are being used by authorities to block activities of women human rights and environmental defenders, who are under constant surveillance.
In India, the call is for the government to listen to women who live in peace with nature. They say no to the new terms of “Resilience Sustainability Inclusiveness” defined by the International Financial Institutions. COVID is being used as an excuse to fast track polluting industries that neither respect Mother Earth nor provide incomes for our nations or our peoples.
In Cambodia, people have obeyed the announcement of the Ministry of Health for self-quarantine because of COVID 19, which caused their loss of income. This has really worsened the situation, particularly in the Pailin Province, where land conflict has been going on for more than 10 years. Without their land, and with people losing income, while they have their debts with the banks or micro-credit financing, the peoples’ situation is dire. Thus, they are calling on the implementation of a poverty reduction policy which would allow them to just pay for the monthly interest. Moreover, the women leaders are asking for the government to finally issue their land title and end this conflict.
In Indonesia, even in the time of pandemic, intimidation and violation of women human rights defenders are happening. At the same time, they face environmental degradation; while facing risks with the change of regulations and passage of new laws such as the Omnibus Law 2020. The women should not be silenced and undervalued when they call out against the state and corporations who have stolen their livelihoods. They have the right to say NO to protect their body, to defend their land and communities’ rights, as well as the right of Mother Nature.
In Thailand, as young girls and boys flood the streets of the country to call for democratic changes, the women leaders stand with and defend the children, youth, women of all sectors, and all taking part in the struggles of caring for families, land and natural resources; justice and democracy.
We, ReSisters from Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, muster every courage in our bones, in the face of militarist, misogynist and authoritarian governments, to say NO to corporations that make profit over our nature; that capitalize on the COVID 19 pandemic to push their agenda of greed. We say NO to those who wield their power over us so that they can pursue their own economic agenda, that enriches the privileged few and impoverish us women who work hard in the farms, protecting our forests and seas, guarding our mountains, and who are made more vulnerable by COVID 19. We say NO to state violence against women. We say NO to corporate violence against rural and indigenous women. We say YES to community control over resources and women’s rights to resources. WE say YES to women’s knowledge and practices in managing our natural resources.
As ReSisters, we have experienced threats, harassments. We have experienced loss of our comrade sisters in the hands of military, unknown armed groups. We have been called names - witches, bitches, bad women. But these, too, we resist, as we demand justice for all women human rights defenders everywhere.
We ReSisters are women of different languages, separated by locked down borders due to pandemic, but are bound together by the same vision of a life of freedom from violence, from fear, and hunger. We are united by the same dream of societies free from discrimination and inequalities. We are joined by our love for what is beautiful – truth, justice, freedoms.
Today, as we celebrate the International Day of Women Human Rights Defenders, we commit to pursue these dreams and collective vision; as we work towards broadening our ranks, strengthening our movement of resistance, and international solidarity.
To all our ReSisters, we salute and honour you. In solidarity, we remain.
Cambodia – Focus on the Global South
India – Dhaatri Resource Centre for Adivasi Women and Children
Indonesia – JATAM and Tim Kerja Perempuan dan Tambang (TKPT)
Philippines – LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
ReSisters from Burma and Thailand
Judy Pasimio, coordinator
Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights (LILAK)