DAVAO CITY – A Filipina Benedictine nun from Mindanao is the recipient of the Award for Human Rights by the Weimar City in Germany this year.
Sr. Stella Matutina, 47, is an environmental defender and secretary-general of Panalipdan! Mindanao, a network of advocates for the environment and patrimony.
The news about Matutina’s award was emailed to media outfits on Thursday. The original text of the news was written in German. The English translation was provided by Fr. Joel Tabora, S.J., president of the Ateneo De Davao University.
It said Matutina “is being honored with the 2015 Weimar Award for Human Rights for her engagement – despite threats to her life – for the rights of residents of the Philippine Island of Mindanao.”
In the news report, the City Council of Weimar City decided to honor Matutina in its closed-door meeting on July 8.
The council “accepted the recommendation of the Awarding Committee of the Weimar Award for Human Rights, which endorsed a recommendation of the aid organization, Missio.”
The City Council explained that Matutina “pits herself against serious human rights violations in her homeland that occur in connection with the gold extraction of international companies in the Philippine Island of Mindanao. The number of violations against the human rights of indigenous peoples of Mindanao, caused by military and paramilitary units, have increased dramatically in the past two years with over one hundred killed. 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.”
Matutina is one of the respondents of the kidnapping and illegal detention case against support groups of indigenous peoples evacuees now in Davao City. The case was filed by the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group.
Matutina on Tuesday also secured peasant-leader Aida Seisa during her appearance before the Davao City Council months after the attack by the military in their house in Paquibato District.
The Weimar Award for Human Rights has been awarded since 1995 to persons and organizations who engage in “freedom and equality of all human beings; prevention and condemnation of genocide; right to free speech of individuals to free information; the participation of human beings in the public affairs of their states; the right of assembly and the right of organisation as well as the implementation of free, secret and regularly recurring elections; respect and preservation of political, ethnic, cultural and religious rights of minorities; [helping] people persecuted for political, gender, religious or racial reasons, and who open for them possibilities of human flourishing in their homes or in the countries which are their new homes; repeal of the death penalty; minimizing arms and armament exports into areas of crisis and to non-democratically legitimate governments; implementation of political and ethical principles that show the way for the future; and the rights of victims of war and other victims of violence.”
According to its Internet website, the City of Weimar presented the Human Right Award “in memory of its special historical responsibility and as symbol of all the anonymous victims of dictatorships and tyrannies throughout the world.”
“Many Weimar citizens lived under and suffered from dictatorships. Even today, countless people all over the world are still suffering from state or stately sanctioned persecution,” it said.
Matutina will be conferred with the award on December 10 coinciding with the International Day of Human Rights. She will also receive 2,500 euros (P125,000) and an artistic present from the Bauhaus University of Weimar.