March 01, 2007 14:35 ET


Delegation to visit Canada, U.S., and Europe to draw international attention to attacks on activists

Attention: Assignment Editor, City Editor, News Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor TORONTO, ONTARIO, MEDIA ADVISORY--(CCNMatthews - March 1, 2007) - It is part of the daily routine for millions of parents around the world-taking your child to school in the morning.

But for Dr. Constancio (Chandu) Claver and his family, that routine activity was cruelly interrupted by a hail of bullets on Monday, July 31, 2006. While Dr. Claver survived the assassination attempt, his wife, Alyce, did not. She succumbed to her injuries later that day. The couple's 11-year-old daughter, Cassandra, was uninjured but severely traumatized by the attack.

Between March 4 to 9, 2007, Dr. Claver, a medical doctor serving indigenous communities in the Philippines, will be travelling in Canada as part of a five-member delegation of prominent church leaders and human rights activists from the Philippines, to speak on behalf of the more than 800 human rights workers and lawyers, journalists, church workers, labour organizers, peasant leaders, and leaders of political organizations who have been killed since 2001.

Their message is a simple one. Help us to stop the killings. It is a message that is echoed in the following words from an open letter from the Claver family following Alyce's assassination:
"Many lives have been taken and many more are in danger. Anyone amongst us who dares speak out against the evil rampant in our land is a virtual target. But let us not wallow in despair or be paralyzed with fear. Let us call upon our countrymen to be more united in fighting this reign of injustice. Let us tell the world of this state-sponsored terrorism that is ravaging our country today. Let not the death of Alyce, and the others before her, be in vain."

In an effort to draw international attention and to appeal for action to press the Philippine government to stop the killings, the Philippine delegation will be meeting with government and church officials and other groups of concerned Canadian citizens in Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal. They will then travel to New York, Washington, D.C., to the United Nations Human Rights Commission in Geneva, and to The Hague for the Permanent Peoples' Tribunal.

In addition to Dr. Claver, the delegation includes the following:

Ms. Marie Hilao-Enriquez has been a leading figure in the Philippine human rights movement for the past 30 years. Marie is the General Secretary of KARAPATAN, a leading human rights advocacy and monitoring alliance in the Philippines.

Fr. Jose Dizon is the Executive Director of the Workers Assistance Center, Inc. (WAC), which he founded in 1995 to provide services for workers in export processing zones. In response to the escalation of human rights violations and political killings since 2001, he joined with other advocates to form a Movement for Justice, Peace and Good Governance of which he is the spokesperson.

Ms. Sharon Rose Joy Duremdes is the first woman to be elected General Secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) and the only woman in Asian churches to hold this position. The Protestant churches have paid dearly for their human rights and justice advocacy. Twenty-two Protestant ministers and workers have been killed since 2001.

Bishop Eliezer Pascua is the General Secretary of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP). Thirteen UCCP pastors and church workers have been assassinated since 2001, the cost of the church's unwavering commitment to and direct involvement in human rights and justice work.

The delegation's visit is organized and sponsored by The United Church of Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Primate's World Relief and Development Fund, the Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace, and KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives.
/For further information: Mary-Frances Denis
Communications Officer
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 2016 (business)
416-885-7478 (cell)

Bern Jagunos
Program Coordinator, East Asia and the Philippines
The United Church of Canada
416-231-7680 ext. 4077 (business)
416-564-3550 (cell)

Contact Information

  • Mary-Frances Denis, Communications Officer, The United Church of Canada
    Primary Phone: 416-231-7680 ext. 2016
    Secondary Phone: 416-885-7478
    Toll-Free: 800-268-3781