Advocates call for justice for slain Moro woman rights defender

Advocates call for justice for Mariam Uy Acob, the latest victim of extrajudicial killings in Mindanao, in an indignation rally held Sept. 25 at the Boy Scout Circle, Quezon City. (Photo by Karapatan)

“Only tyrants and human rights violators stand to gain with the deaths of human rights defenders like Mariam Acob.”


Human rights groups are crying out for justice for a Moro human rights defender killed by suspected government troops on Sept. 23.

According to Karapatan, two gunmen shot 43-year-old Mariam Uy Acob, a paralegal of Kawagib Moro Human Rights Alliance, while she was on board a motorcycle on her way home. Acob sustained seven gunshot wounds on her chest, stomach, shoulder and back.

Acob, a leader of Tindeg Bangsamoro, consistently denounced aerial bombardment and encampment in Moro communities, notably those perpetrated by the Army’s 40th Infantry Battalion under the 6th Infantry Division, according to Kawagib. The group added that Acob had been receiving death threats.

In separate statements, Karapatan and Gabriela Women’s Party held the military and Duterte responsible for Acob’s death.

“Only tyrants and human rights violators stand to gain with the deaths of human rights defenders like Mariam Acob,” Gabriela Women’s Party said. “We will cry for justice as we fight for the lifting of martial rule in Mindanao.”

Cristina Palabay, Karapatan secretary general, condemned what she called as “the military’s handiwork under martial law, mercilessly zeroing in on human rights defenders.”

Karapatan noted that the killing of Acob came weeks after the massacre of seven young men in Patikul, Sulu on September 14, 2018. The victims went to sitio Bato, barangay Kabuntakas to harvest fruits but their bodies were found the next day, riddled with bullets. The Army’s 55th Infantry Battalion claimed in a statement that the seven were Abu Sayyaf members.

“The government has been directing people to believe, especially under martial law, that Moro communities are the purveyors of terrorism and thus they deserve to be subjected to harassment, air strikes, forced evacuations, and other abuses,” Palabay said. “What are conveniently left in the shadows are the years of oppression, repression and discrimination, and the justified and necessary resistance of Moro communities against continuing State terrorism.” (

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