A Benedictine nun has been selected as the winner of the 2015 Human Rights Prize by the city of Weimar, Germany. Sister Stella Matutina was chosen for her anti-mining activities in the southern Filipino region of Mindanao.
In an interview with UCANews, Sr. Matutina reaffirmed her dedication to the cause of the poor despite a “systematic effort to limit democratic space and security threats.”
“This highlights the situation of Mindanao and the Philippines in general where the poor, the farmers, the indigenous peoples, the human rights activists and defenders of the environment endure harassment and face risks and death,” she said.
A Mindanao native, Sr. Matutina said that her heart “will always be for the poor and the victims of abuses.”
“My life will always be dedicated to them,” she said.
The Filipino nun’s advocacy has not been without its struggles. UCANews reported that in 2012, she was labeled “a fake nun” by the Philippine military and accused of being a communist guerilla for the New People’s Army. Several years earlier she was detained along with two other anti-mining activists for delivering a lecture on environmental awareness to residents of a village.
This year, she was charged along with other Church leaders and human rights activists with kidnapping, human trafficking and illegal detention after taking care of tribal people who were displaced in the provinces of Davao Norte and Bukidnon.
“These are proof that helping the oppressed, the poor, the abused comes with great risks,” Sr. Matutina said. (J.A.E.)