Friends seek justice for attempt on life of American human rights defender in PH

Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 10 2019 10:17 AM

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SAN FRANCISCO, California - Supporters of a Chinese-American human rights defender hurt in an alleged assassination attempt in the Philippines rallied in front of the San Francisco City Hall to call for justice.

Brandon Lee was shot multiple times early morning Tuesday in Ifugao province where he had been living since 2010 with his wife and child, and working as a paralegal for the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance.

The Chinese-American from the San Francisco Bay Area is now in critical condition following four gunshots to his back and spine.

San Francisco Supervisor Gordon Mar said Lee is the first US citizen believed to be the target of an extrajudicial assassination attempt.

“My team has been in regular contact with the offices of Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi as well as senators Dianne Feinstin and Kamala Harris and Representative Jackie Speier calling for immediate security protection for Brandon from the US Embassy and for a thorough investigation of the shooting. They have been in contact with the embassy in the Philippines and with Brandon’s family,” Mar said.

In recent years, Lee has been red-tagged by the Philippine military who accused him of being a member of the Philippine rebel group, the New People’s Army.

He has reportedly been the subject of surveillance and threats.

In a 2015 interview, ABS-CBN News asked Lee about these claims. He said the allegations were baseless which meant to silence the community work that they do and condition the minds of the people to legitimize surveillance which lead to human rights violations.

Many of Lee’s friends at the rally were his classmates and friends from the San Francisco State University.

His friends said Lee is in the Philippines to help the most vulnerable communities, specifically to protect land rights of indigenous people in the Cordilleras.

They said the shootings and killings of human rights defenders must stop under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte.

“In 2014, one of his colleagues William Bugatti--and he never let us forget his name--William Bugatti was shot and killed. And then, just last year, another friend of his Ricardo Mayumi was targeted, shot, and killed for opposing a hydro power plant in the northern Philippines,” said Lee’s friend Melissa Reyes.

According to friends, Lee suffered multiple cardiac arrests during his surgery. He was able to come out of his coma but is still in critical condition.

A GoFundMe has been set up by his friends based in the US to help pay for his medical bills and recovery.

Read more on Balitang America.