A true hero returns home

By Benjie Lim Vergara

Henry Acorda. Image © DFA

THE remains of a true hero returns home Tuesday morning only to be met with a mediocre government presence.

The body of Henry Acorda, who was mortally injured for defending a Filipina by a suspected Neo-Nazi in Slovakia, was flown in to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport accompanied by his mother in a jet plane provided by the Slovakian government. They were met at the tarmac by Department of Foreaign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and a few other minor DFA functionaries.

According to the DFA, the 36-year old victim was mauled by a suspected Neo-Nazi after he defended a Filipina who is also being beaten. He was rushed to a nearby hospital where he died. The mauling suspect, who was identified as Juraj Hossu, was arrested and now awaiting trial, the DFA added.

Cayetano said Henry’s remains will be brought to Heritage Park by the Arlington Funeral Home and will be laid to rest on Saturday.

“His heroism make us proud to be a Filipino,” Cayetano said as he disclosed that in honor of the OFW’s heroism, an OFW Center in Taguig will be named “Henry Acorda Center.”

June 8 gathering in Bratislava in memory of Henry Acorda (Source: SME)

Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters, mostly in their 20s, turned out in Hodžovo Námestie square in Bratislava, Slovakia.

According to the Slovak Spectator:

The organizers of the commemorative gathering expressed their sympathy for the family of the killed Filipino expat and called for an end to violence against women and foreigners in society.

More than 1,000 people came out on June 8 to pay tribute to Filipino expat Henry Acorda, who succumbed to his injuries following a brutal attack of Juraj Hossu in late May. They later marched through the city to the memorial raised at the end of Obchodná Street where the incident took place.

Bratislava gathering for murdered Filipino expat Henry Acorda

Posted by The Slovak Spectator on Friday, June 8, 2018

This tragedy is devastating not only for us, his family, and his friends, but all of humanity,” Acorda’s sister wrote in a letter read at the gathering.

As she stressed, Acorda came to Slovakia a year ago, ready to fulfill his dreams and experience life in a foreign country. He loved people and respected them and their diversity, which eventually cost him his life.

Henry John Acorda did not deserve this tragedy,” his sister continued. “We will never forget this noble and heroic act of kindness and respect, especially for women. He was a hero in our hearts.”

Acorda’s sister thanked both the Slovak and Filipino government for their “collaborative efforts in pursuing justice for my beloved brother”.

Apart from expressing sympathy for Acorda’s family, the organisers wanted to express their concern with the current state of society. They also called for just investigation of Acorda’s death.

Acorda’s sister wrote in the letter that this tragedy could happen to any of us, and asked whether people want it to continue or want to stop it.

Other speakers also stressed the need to stop violence happening in Slovakia.

The organisers said that at first, the respective authorities seemed indifferent to the case and hoped that nobody would notice the death of an expat, and started acting only after public pressure.

We won’t allow the state authorities to sweep the murder under the carpet as a mishap or an ordinary night conflict,” one of the organisers said.

They called on proper investigation of the incident and justice for the family, and stressed that it needs to be seen in a wider context, pointing to the current atmosphere in society that trivializes violence against women and harassment and is afraid of immigrants, which is also nurtured by politicians, police and even media.

We have to understand Henry’s legacy as a challenge not to be indifferent, defend ourselves and change society and us,” one of the organisers added.

Zuzana Maďarová of the non-governmental organization Aspekt also called for an end to violence against women and children.

We need a society that will not tolerate violence and will use all means possible to solve gender violence and prevent it,” Maďarová stressed.

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