Greetings of Justice and Solidarity!
Today is the International Day in Support for Victims of Torture and I would like to send my solidarity to all victims of torture!
I am Zara R. Alvarez, a 32-year-old human rights activist and a single mother of a four-year-old daughter. I am one of the more than 400 Political Prisoners in the Philippines.
Like many others in Negros Island and all over the Philippines, I am persecuted for my political belief, activism and my commitment to human rights. Due to my activism, I was harassed, followed by unidentified men, publicly labeled as member of the New People’s Army; I received text messages that informed me “that people are watching me and know where I am and what I am doing”, and warned me “to be careful”.
Last year the attempts to silence me entered a new dimension. On October 30, 2012, military and police illegally arrested me for false and fabricated charges of murder and robbery in band. We are more than 50 accused; many of us are activists of legal political organizations, advocating social change. For more than eight months I am now languishing in the Cadiz City Jail.
As a human rights activist, I fought against torture and all forms of ill-treatment and other forms of human rights violations outside this jail. Now, I am forced to continue the struggle from within.
As a Political Prisoner and as a single mother to a four-year-old daughter, your situation is not far from mine.
Being separated from my daughter causes me countless sleepless nights, thinking of her daily situation and how she copes without me, especially during nights when she used to sleep besides me. I used to prepare her milk and food, bath and dress her, tell her bedtime stories and sing her lullabies until she fell asleep closely snuggled against my side; I used to kiss her good-night and good morning each day…
Now the iron bars and grey walls encircling me, forcibly bar me from being with her and to be the one to guide and care for her. This injustice turns my daughter and turns me in victims of psychological torture, jointly longing for freedom and justice!
And if that was not enough, this mental and emotional burden caused by our forced separation is aggravated by further threats, harassment and intimidation that I faced in the past months of my detention.
1. On October 31, 2012, Lt. Col. Efren Morados, the commanding officer of the 62nd Infantry Batallion came to see me at the first day of my detention at the Cadiz City Jail and inquired about my daughter.
2. Last April 11, 2013, the warden assigned at the Cadiz City Jail, received a visitor at around 8 o’clock in the evening. I clearly identified this visitor as one of the officers during my arrest. He was the one who commanded some of his men to bring me to a separate room for interrogation. Luckily they failed to do so.
When he visited he asked me about my daughter. Upon seeing him all my memories from the day of my arrest flashed back and caused more sleepless nights. I felt angry, hate and I was fearful of his intention to come to the jail in the evening hours.
3. Last April 29, 2013, Capt. Pilas, who introduced himself as legal officer of the 303rd Infantry Brigade, came to see and talk to me and my fellow political prisoner, Elizar Nabas, regarding our case. He threatened me that they are preparing additional witnesses against me if I do not cooperate with them. He also inquired about my daughter. He is the same officer who approached the jail warden last January 2013 asking to deploy a squad size army inside the jail for additional security but the warden declined.
4. On May 23, 2013, an unidentified army in full uniform riding in a motorcycle dropped by the jail and just took his merienda.
The military’s interest in my daughter, their unforeseen and unexplained presence here in the jail and during court hearings, their continued threat, harassment and intimidation even that I am already incarcerated for month after month is a clear example of mental torture. Fear often visits me not only for my safety but most especially for my daughter and family.
This fear however does not weaken my desire to seek justice for all of us!
On this international day for victims of torture we are together on this journey to seek justice!
Justice to all victims of torture!
Justice to all victims of human rights violations!
Zara R. Alvarez June 2013, BJMP Cadiz
Please join us in the call for Zara’s immediate release and sign here
You can also find us on Facebook – Free Zara Alvarez Movement