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A second Weimar human rights award for the Philippines

August 10, 2015 ·  By PREDA Foundation Inc.

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Preda community workers with indigenous people

Preda community workers with indigenous people

A second Weimar human rights award for the Philippines
10 August 2015

Sr. Stella Matutina a Filipino nun and human rights activist in Mindanao has been awarded the prestigious Human Rights Award of the German City of Weimar for her word defending the rights of Indigenous people and poor farmers and fishing folk against the destructive forces of mining corporations.

This follows the awarding of the same Weimar Human Rights award to Father Shay Cullen of the Peoples Recovery Empowerment Development Assistance (PREDA) Foundation in 2000 for his work
defending the rights of children and women, victims of human trafficking, sexual abuse and exploitation in the Philippines. Father Shay Cullen is a member of the Missionary Society of St. Columban. Both Sister Stella and Father Shay Cullen are supported in their work by Missio a German church based organization.

Sr. Stella Matutina is at the forefront of the campaign to save the ancestral lands of the indigenous people of Mindanao and works at great risk. The 47-year-old nun is currently secretary general of Panalipdan Mindanao, a Davao-based environment education center. “The Catholic nun engages herself extraordinarily for the rights of the native population, despite being exposed to permanent threats to her safety due to her engagement, it said in German.

The Weimar awards recognize that these missionaries are on the frontline in battling the forces of exploitation and violations of human rights and they take decisive and direct action to challenge with a prophetic voice the oppressive forces that steal the ancestral lands of the indigenous people and upland farmers and destroy the environment by forest cutting and open pit mining and other destructive practices.

The extractive industry has been the most destructive activity that has devastated huge areas of the natural habitat and environment of the indigenous people. Many indigenous communities are getting organized, empowered with help of the active missionaries like Sister Stella. They are trying to resist and protest the encroaching onslaught of these multinational corporations. They operate in cahoots with local companies and military.

In Mindanao, Father Fausto Tentorio, an Italian Missionary, was gunned down in broad daylight three years ago by assassins for helping indigenous people affected by the Tambacan mine site. He was a friend and inspiration to the indigenous people in defending their lands and environment.

In granting the award to Sister Stella the Weimar City council noted that the attacks on the indigenous people had dramatically increased in the past two years and over a hundred of them had been killed by gun men. Sister Stella worked in a dangerous situation and her life has been threatened. The awards for human rights protection have been given by the city of since 1995.

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