HERO Awards 2023: The Honourees

By September 29, 2023 November 28th, 2023 Regional, What We Do

Social Justice
Award Recipient

Rhadem Musawah

Philippines

My name is Rhadem Camlian Morados, publicly known as Rhadem Musawah, I am a human rights defender in the Philippines. I grew up in a conservative Muslim household in Zamboanga City and Basilan Island under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao which used to be part of an armed conflict region. The harsh reality of war, inequality and attacks towards the LGBTQIA+ community is what drove me to not just to fight for their rights but to make sure that we create an inclusive and safe Philippines for every Filipino person.

Tell us about your work 

I have been a human rights defender in the Philippines for 8 years and I am an awarded human rights documentary filmmaker globally. I am also the communications Director of MUJER LGBT+ Organisation based in the armed conflict region in the Philippines (Mindanao). I am a consultant on humanitarian and human rights programs focused on the LGBTQIA+ communities in the Philippines under several United Nations agencies and diplomatic missions. 

What one achievement you’ve accomplished that you’re most proud of? Why?

My biggest achievement is probably being able to represent the indigenous muslim community in the Philippine congress during committee sessions for urgent bills, especially the anti discrimination bill. To be able to echo the voices of my community on the national and international level is something I hold dearly because without the blessing and trust of the community, I will never be able to get the strength to continue the fight.

What do you find most challenging about your work? Why?

It is always the possibility of getting killed because we visit and help communities in the armed conflict regions where mechanisms for peace and security are absent. Recently, MUJER LGBT+ Organisation has been red tagged by the Philippine government as a member of the communist terrorist group, this happens when government agencies try to silence human rights based groups by antagonizing them in public, smashing their image and cutting their operation lines.

What do you do to recharge your battery?

Human rights defenders rarely get access to therapy and trauma counselling, that is why I always try to recharge myself by being close to people that I love.

What is your vulnerability and how do you overcome it?

No matter what we do, there will always be people you can’t make happy, even those members of the movement or advocacy. What I do is always work with people that you think will help your goals, will bridge the gap between the people and justice.

You have been nominated for the Social Justice category.
What was your reaction and please, tell us why?

The nomination came with a surprise and also delight. It is a perfect opportunity to boost my team’s morale after the traumatic experience we went through after the red tagging of the Philippine government against us. 

What warm/hopeful message that you would like to share with the communities in the Asia Pacific? 

We have not come this far to falter now when things get shaky, we need to continue in creating an inclusive and safe society for EVERYONE not just for the LGBTQIA+ community but also for women, children, indigenous communities and rest of the marginalized groups. We fight in pursuit of justice and genuine inclusion…… until everyone is safe, free and equal………

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