15 September 2020
Our movement has experienced serious repression, including the targeted destruction of our members’ homes, assault, torture and murder. We have received solidarity from popular movements around the world, and have always offered our own solidarity to comrades under attack elsewhere in the world.
When we say that every person must count as a person we mean that every person must count as a person everywhere. Solidarity does not stop at any border.
We have been informed of the assassination of two well-known activists in the Philippines, Randall ‘Ka Randy’ Echani and Zara Alvarez.
Today Abahlali joins Karapatan in the Philippines, and their comrades, in solidarity as they organise a Global Day of Action. This day coincides with the 45th UN Human Rights Council session, calling for an international investigation into human rights violations in the Philippines.
Randall Echanis was involved in the struggles of impoverished people in rural areas for land reform. He was also a co-founder of the International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ESCR-Net) member organisation Karapatan. Randall was murdered around 1:30 am on 10 August 2020, when 5 men entered his apartment in Novaliches, Quezon City. He was stabbed to death. His neighbour Loui Tagapia was also killed in the attack.
Zara Alvarez was involved in struggles against the repression of the Rodrigo Duterte regime.
She was the chairperson of Anakbayan-Negros, and previously served as a deputy general secretary if BAYAN-Negros as well as campaign and education director of Karapan Negros. On the night of Monday, 17 August 2020 she was shot and killed by unknown hitmen (izinkabi) in the Barangay Mandalagan neighbourhood of Bacolod City. She had previously received death threats through anonymous phone calls, a tactic of intimidation that is also common in South Africa
Both Randall Echanis and Zara Alvarez had previously been imprisoned for their political work. They were also both labelled as ‘terrorists’ by the state in 2018.
These attacks are part of a wider pattern of attack on activists in the Philippines, which is similar to what we experience here in South Africa. We have lost 18 comrades to state murder and other kinds of violence since 2013. Today it was reported in the media that there have been at least 38 assassinations and 14 attempted assassinations in areas in KwaZulu-Natal in which mining companies, often working with traditional authority, are destroying the land to make a few people rich. The murder of activists has become an everyday bread in South Africa.
Abahlali cannot stand by when human lives are vandalised in this manner. Humanity has no borders. A person is a person everywhere. We must value all human beings as treasure. If we don’t act in solidarity with all people facing repression we will be heading to a human catastrophe in which governments, ruling parties, corporates, and other forces, can murder grassroots activists with impunity.
Just as oppressors learn from each other, and work together, so to the oppressed must learn from each other and be in solidarity with each other. An injury to one is an injury to all.
We call on all our comrades in South Africa and around the world to stand in solidarity with the comrades in the Philippines.
Mqapheli Bonono 073 0673 274
S’bu Zikode 083 547 0474