Human rights activist gunned down in Bacolod

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Zara Alvarez (Photo from Cristina Palabay)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 18) — As peasant activist Randy Echanis was laid to rest on Monday afternoon, another activist was gunned down in Bacolod City.

Zara Alvarez, who worked as a paralegal for human rights group Karapatan, was killed in a private village in the city at around 6:45 pm on Monday night.

Karapatan spokesperson Cristina Palabay confirmed on her Facebook post the killing of Alvarez, who was also the group’s former campaign and education director.

The 39-year old Alvarez was a former political prisoner before serving in different capacities in the human rights group and as a research and advocacy officer of the Negros Island Health Integrated Program.

“We will honor Zara’s legacy as a passionate, selfless and dedicated human rights worker, by continuing the struggle for realization of people’s rights,” said Palabay.

Alvarez was included in a list of more than 600 people tagged as “terrorists” in a proscription case filed by the Department of Justice in February 2018.

“Her name and that of many others were stricken off the list, but the threats against her by alleged State forces continued,” the Karapatan spokesperson.

National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers President Edre Olalia condemned the killing of Alvarez.

“It seems vocal and effective human rights defenders, activists and critics are being slayed one after the other with brazenness and audacious impunity. The obvious intent is to sow terror. The grief and rage continues,” he said.

Alvarez is the second activist killed in a span of two weeks after Echanis was found dead in a rented house in Novaliches, Quezon City last August 10.