Philippinen: Mariani Dimaranan

It is fitting to remember and take to heart that no prison is large enough, or evil strong enough, to stop a people’s forward march to freedom.

— Mariani Dimaranan

Sister Mariani Dimaranan (born 1925) is a feisty Franciscan nun who chaired Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP), an organization set up by the major religious superiors in the Philippines to document the human rights abuses against political prisoners under military custody, for 22 years. Until a stroke severely damaged her faculties, Sr Mariani visited more than 100 detention camps all over the country, bringing supplies and comfort to prisoners and working for their release, and exposed the human rights situation in the country in forums and meetings abroad.

Under Sister Mariani’s leadership, the Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) sought legal and medical attention for political detainees even as it assisted their families to find alternative livelihoods. Through clandestine TFDP publications abroad, Sr Mariani exposed thousands of cases of torture, disappearances and summary executions that belie government propaganda about a "smiling martial law." Despite threats to their personal safety and the difficulties of their work, TFDP workers managed to prove that torture was "routine, systematic and widespread" under martial law. From September 1972 to February 1986, when Marcos was ousted in the popular People Power Revolution, the group was able to document 5531 cases of torture, 2537 cases of summary execution, 783 cases of involuntary disappearance and 92,607 cases of "public order violation" arrests, mainly of people joining street rallies and protests. Even after the ouster of authoritarian President Ferdinand Marcos, the TFDP has continued its mission to uphold human rights, noting that abuses by the police and military persist in the Philippines to this day. "The struggle is not yet finished," Sr Mariani said shortly before a stroke confined her to her sick bed. "The situation is getting more complicated regionally and globally. I can see the transgression of human rights going on and being repeated in the poverty of our people. The human rights struggle should be more intense. Everyone should remain committed." From her sick bed, Sr Mariani continues to inspire people to advocate for human rights, the definition of which the TFDP has expanded to include "food and freedom, jobs and justice."

Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP) Franciscan Sisters of the Immaculate Conception (SFIC)