Ignite Awards for Human Rights launched


28 May 2017


“The world is changing. We now live in very challenging circumstances for justice and human rights, with battles over natural resources, rising inequality, increasing movement of people within and across borders, ongoing crises and conflicts, and unlawful actions by states against crime and terrorism. But today, Amnesty International Philippines honors the unwavering commitment of human rights defenders who work for days on end to battle these dire situations. Today we launch Ignite Awards for Human Rights,” said Amnesty International Philippines Board of Trustees Chairperson, Ritz Lee Santos, III on Sunday, 28 May during Amnesty International’s 56th anniversary and celebration of its 30th year of presence in the Philippines.

Amnesty International Philippines’ Ignite Awards for Human Rights was launched as a way to give back to the human rights community by giving accord to human rights defenders with the highest regard for the work they do thereby promoting human rights. Ignite Awards also aims to transform the perception of Filipinos about human rights by showing that ordinary people who are brave enough can do extraordinary work and change peoples’ lives.

“Globally, Amnesty International launched the Brave Campaign for human rights defenders, Ignite Awards for Human Rights aims to recognize their bravery. This is our counterpart to the global campaign. We note that more and more people are striving to get their voices heard – speaking out online or on the streets. Human rights defenders are outraged but hopeful, they roll with the punches. Amnesty International gives utmost importance to defending our freedoms in the name of those who fight many different battles towards a world where everyone enjoys all human rights,” added Santos.

Amnesty International gives a distinctive regard to protecting the right to freedom of expression because violations of this right go hand in hand with violations of other rights – rights to freedom of association and assembly, the right to take part in public affairs, the right to an education, the full development of personality, talents, and abilities to their fullest potential, and preparation for responsible life in a free society.

“For more than half a century, Amnesty International has defended all human rights against attempts by governments across the globe to stifle religious dissent, political opposition and artistic creativity. Most actions done in order to protect rights are taken by human rights defenders without fear or favor,” Santos said.

The Ignite Awards for Human Rights has three categories – Most distinguished Human Rights Defender, awarded to individuals or organizations whose work on human rights uplift the situation of rights holders, whose work impacts activism, policy-making and changes in peoples’ lives and whose contributions to the advancement of human rights in the Philippines have resulted to immensely improved lives of those who will otherwise be marginalized or oppressed; Outstanding Young Human Rights Defender, awarded to an individual under the age of 25 years (on 28 May) and who has made an outstanding contribution to advancing human rights in Philippines and served as prime movers and influencers among their peers towards mobilizing for human rights activism; and Art that Matters – one for music, one for literary arts, one for visual arts, one for performance arts, one for film and Human Rights film of the year, awarded to artists who have utilized their art in defending freedoms and helped in revolutionizing human rights education through their craft.

“Ignite Awards for Human Rights have notable human rights experts as members of the Board of Judges. Dean Jose Manuel Diokno sits as chairperson, Dr. Khoo Ying Hooi of Malaysia and Dr. Aurora Parong, Human Rights Victims Claims Board (HRVCB) member, renowned human rights activist and former Amnesty International Philippines Director. Amnesty International Secretary General and another artist-activist will hopefully fill in the rest of the 5-slate panel of judges. The first awards will be given away on the same day, 28 May in 2018. Selection process is one year,” explained Santos.