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This is a press release from Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime.
Photojournalist Raffy Lerma and activist Mae Paner were among the 10 fellows chosen in Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime’s (GI-TOC) Resilience Fellowship, a new initiative that aims to build a platform for cross-sectoral, global, and interdisciplinary collaboration to counter the effects of organized crime.
The fellowship is part of the GI-TOC’s flagship Resilience Fund, a grant mechanism funded by the government of Norway providing grants to civil society and communities working to counter the impacts of criminal governance and violence across the world.
The theme for 2020, “Disappearances Related to Organized Crime,” was selected because it is an urgent and salient human rights issue, infringing on a number of rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Disappearances are frequently used as a strategy to spread terror within society. For organized crime groups, it is a violent tool of control.
“These attacks on citizens are prevalent globally, including in my home country, the Philippines. Each year, the Resilience Fellowship will strive to empower individuals around the world to work toward shared understandings and responses to organized criminality in their communities,” said Miguel Syjuco, Resilience Fund Advisory Council member and lead on Fellowships.
“Collaboration and innovation in the face of limitations are key to building capacity and resilience; our fellows will explore what’s possible when civil society develops solutions together,” he added.
According to the International Commission on Missing Persons, the issue of missing and disappeared persons has intensified over the last two decades.
“The Resilience Fund has been instrumental in supporting grassroots community responses to organized crime since its launch earlier this year,” Tuesday Reitano, GI-TOC Deputy Director, said.
“I am incredibly excited that we are now taking this a step further to support individuals through the innovative and creative Resilience Fellowship, which will empower fellows to create new ideas, collaborate with each other, and help to build a global picture of community resilience to organized crime,” Reitano added.
The fellowship will be based on a three-pronged approach that supports fellows through funding and mentoring, networking and collaboration with other fellows, and opportunities to engage more broadly with society and raise awareness on urgent issues.
The call for applications was launched on October 15 and ran until November 15, 2019.
After the completion of their selection process, Global Initiative Against Transnational Organized Crime chose 10 fellows from around the world, including two from the Philippines.
They were chosen for their work tackling this year’s theme of the fellowship: disappearances related to organized crime such as extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, enforced disappearances, human trafficking, abductions, and slavery.
Lerma has been exhibiting his photographs and giving talks in different parts of the Philippines and the world to help disseminate to a broader audience the realities of the drug war in the country. His work has achieved in many cases an outpouring of sympathy and outrage about the drug war from different segments of Philippine society. (READ: ‘Some people need killing’: Murder in Manila part 1)
Mae Paner, also known as Juana Change, is a performance artist and activist who has, over the past six administrations of the Philippine government, taken up the role of a satirist, social critic, political loudmouth and a voice for public conscience.
With the collaboration of national artists, she has interviewed dozens of survivors to bring their voices forward in the form on stage plays like Tao Po (Still Human), one of her first collaborative efforts to fight desensitization and generate citizen’s responses against human rights violations.
The Resilience Fellowship for 2020 will run from January to December 2020. – Rappler.com