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In Memoriam: Sr. Mariani Dimaranan, Human Rights Defender, 81
Volume 20 Number 1
Wednesday, 30 September 2009 17:23

Anselmo Lee
Executive Director
Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA)

The Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA) joins the rest of the human rights community in paying deep respects and tribute to a pillar of the human rights movement in the Philippines and one of Asia’s well-known and courageous human rights defenders.

Sr. Mariani Dimaranan who led the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), a pioneer human rights organization and one of FORUM-ASIA’s founding organizations - passed away last Saturday, December 17, at age 81.

FORUM-ASIA considers the best way to pay tribute to Sr. Mariani is to celebrate her life and great passion for human rights and social justice, by carrying on her legacy of relentless work and dedication towards the achievement of human rights for all not only in the Asian region, but throughout the world.

It is impossible to talk about the history and development of human rights movement in the Philippines without mentioning the name of Sr. Mariani. She headed the TFDP for almost 20 years and braved the guns of the Marcos dictatorship until its downfall in 1986. Sr. Mariani also co-founded other human rights and religious civic-service organizations, as well as the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA), a national alliance of human rights groups and individuals in the Philippines.

Under her wing, TFDP’s and PAHRA’s contributions to the regional and international human rights movements consist of the Asian concept of human rights struggle as a spiritual challenge, a grassroots-based and activist-oriented movement in the third world; the setting up and development of an extensive and nationwide system of monitoring and documentation of human rights violations which continue to be shared with the rest of the region’s human rights defenders to this day; human rights education not only for victims and their families but for the grassroots and communities; the first joint government and non-government Presidential Council for Human Rights (PCHR) in the country, which sought justice for human rights atrocities of the Marcos dictatorship; and participation in the class action suit against the late Philippine President and strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

During the organizational and political crisis in the progressive left movement in the Philippines in the mid-1990s, Sr. Mariani courageously faced political isolation and imminent dangers from opposing political forces, defended the integrity of TFDP and PAHRA against political and partisan ends, and successfully asserted the universality of human rights, impartiality of human rights work and non-selectivity and non-discrimination in their services towards human rights [violations] victims.

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