Heart De ChavezAge 26
10 Jan 2017
Metro Manilla, Cavite (Philippines)
TDoR list ref: tgeu/10-Jan-2017/Heart De Chavez
Heart was shot by an unknown assailant believed to be connected to the police. Her body was found inside an empty house with a bullet hole in her cheek and her legs curled under her body.
The shooter casually walked away “as if nothing happened”, leaving her bleeding from her face and chest.
Fairfax Media photographer Kate Geraghty documented the case of 26-year-old transgender Heart de Chavez, which has been sent to the UN Human Rights Commission in Geneva, as a case study of alleged police complicity in the killings. First there was an arrest and alleged police extortion. Then execution.
At the age of 14, Heart grew her hair long, started taking hormone pills and found work washing towels at a beauty parlour. When her father died when she was in her early 20s she was left to provide for her mother and two single sisters with four children. “She was very kind, generous and good,” said Heart’s sister Arriana.
But Heart’s debts grew until she started dealing in drugs last year, earning 500 pesos ($13) for each transaction. Police arrested her in January and demanded money but she couldn’t pay, her family says. At least seven masked men later burst into the plywood house in a slum where Heart and her family lived, stepping over children sleeping in a narrow hallway.
Amid the children’s screams one of the men grabbed Heart by the hair and pounded her head on a table, family members say. Heart’s 61-year-old mother Elena begged for the men not to hurt her as they dragged her out crying. “Ma, help me,” Heart screamed.
Minutes later four gunshots rang out across the neighbourhood.