“Justice is turned back, and righteousness stands at a distance; for truth stumbles in the public square, and righteousness cannot enter. Truth is lacking, and whoever turns from evil is despoiled. The Lord saw it and it displeased him that there was no justice. He saw that there was no one, and was appalled that there was no one to intervene…” (Isaiah 59:14-16)
A very painful two days, listening to testimonies from a delegation of Philippine religious and civil society leaders at an international ecumenical conference on human rights in the Philippines, March 12-14, 2007 in Washington, DC. Many of these women and men, clergy and lay have lost friends and family members to what are being called “extra judicial” killings there.
There is a distrubing escalation of human rights violations in the Philippines. In total 833 persons have been killed in what international observers and human rights organizations all agree is a well-designed scheme to eliminate and intimidate leaders who speak out peacefully against human rights abuses of their government.
In response to the National Council of Churches in the Philippines appeal to churches and ecumenical bodies around the world to be in accompaniment with them in making their appeal to end these killings, Tony Kireopoulos of the National Council of Churches in the USA was able to share that organization’s statement and work. I was able to share Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s letter (also shared with Condoleeza Rice, Sen. Joseph Biden, and Rep. Tom Lanto) which concludes:
“I wish to assure you of the ongoing concern of many religious leaders in the United States and elsewhere. We will continue to monitor and make known our distress over the deeply troubling human rights problems now besetting your country, and we will continue to actively support our partner churches in the Philippines as they work to bring these concerns to the attention of the international community, including the United Nations Human Rights Commission.”
The brave Philippine delegates will testify before Congressional staff and committees tomorrow. The latest word from the Philippines is that the government is sending military and police officials to “observe” the testimonies! Pray for the safety of our sisters and brothers…