An international team of church representatives will pay a solidarity visit to churches, ecumenical organizations and civil society movements in the Philippines Dec. 1-5.

It will be the last in a series of “Living Letters” visits to various countries organized ahead of the International Ecumenical Peace Convocation in May 2011 that concludes the World Council of Churches “Decade to Overcome Violence (DOV).  The goal of the visits has been to accompany people and churches who long for peace, security and reconciliation in the midst of conflicts and violence.

The members of the team come from Africa, Asia, Europe and North America and will be traveling on behalf of the WCC.

The group will be listening to the victims of human right violations in the country and to others who lost family members in extrajudicial killings. The Living Letters team will receive first-hand information regarding the state of human rights in the Philippines, and learn what the international ecumenical community can do to support the active defense of human rights and civil liberties.

Over the past decades, the WCC has closely followed the state of human rights in the Philippines. On various occasions, the WCC expressed its concerns to national and international bodies and authorities about the worsening of the human rights situation in the country.

Several WCC statements and letters have unequivocally condemned the extra-judicial killings, illegal arrests, involuntary disappearances and abductions as well as the country's increasing militarization.

The delegation will include Vijula Arulanantham, Christian Conference of Asia, Sri Lanka; the Rev. Tara Curlewis, general secretary, National Council of Churches in Australia; Mardi Tindal, moderator, United Church of Canada; and Tony Waworuntu, former member of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (CCIA) , Indonesia.

The group will also include WCC staff members Semegnish Asfaw, WCC research associate for the Decade to Overcome Violence; Anastasia Dragan, WCC youth program intern, Republic of Moldova; and Aneth Phenias Lwakatare, WCC communication program intern, Tanzania.

They will be accompanied by local delegates Rex Reyes, general secretary, National Council of Churches in the Philippines, and Carmencita Karagdag-Peralta, WCC Central Committee member.