IPMSDL Statement Regarding Threat to the Life of Ms. Gloria Ushigua, Indigenous Peoples Rights Defender

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The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) condemns the continuing harassment and threat on the life of Ms. Gloria Ushigua. Ushigua is a member of the IPMSDL, coordinator of the indigenous women’s group Ashinwaka and a staunch defender of indigenous peoples and environmental rights in Ecuador for almost a decade.

Recent events have led us to conclude that the threat on her life is real, and is posed by Ecuadorian state forces in collaboration with the Ecuadorian judiciary and several big multinational and state-owned companies interested in exploiting oil deposits in the territories of the Sapara people, of which Ushigua is a member. In 2013, government-owned media outlets started a smear campaign against Ushigua. In 2014 she was charged by the Ecuadorian court with terrorism, public obstruction and sabotage in relation to a peaceful assembly that Ushigua led.

In 2015 three policemen broke into Ushigua’s home in the city of Puyo,using teargas to immobilize Ushigua and her family members, beating her and torturing her using taser guns. Her property and home and office were also destroyed during the “raid.”

On 2 May 2016 her sister-in-law, Anacleta Dahua Cuji, was believed to have been raped and then killed while working on her farm by four men suspected of being Ecuadorian state agents. Her niece Casiela Grefa, on the other hand, was physically restrained by four men on 26 May 2016. They interrogated her regarding the whereabouts and activities of Ushigua. On 31 May 2016, in an act clearly meant to intimidate Ushigua, five unknown men camped outside her house throughout the night.

These acts by the Ecuadorian state agents and judiciary are clearly in violation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Indigenous peoples all over the world have the right to self determination and the freedom to choose how to use their lands for the benefit of their people. No indigenous person should be abused, harassed, tortured or killed simply for protecting their territories.

These brazen acts of harassment by state agents against Ushigua remind us of other indigenous leaders like Xavier Akien of the Philippines, Jannie Lasimbang of Malaysia and countless other indigenous peoples’ rights advocates who risk their lives to fight for their rights as well as their children’s right to a better future. This also reminds us that in the modern-day world that we live in, rights defenders and advocates are faced with rising state militarism.

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We call on the Ecuadorian Government to heed the following calls:
1.Immediately cease harassment and threats to the life of Ms. Gloria Ushigua and her family;
2.Investigate and prosecute those responsible for harassment of Ushigua and her family which has caused the death of her sister-in-law Anacleta Dahua Cuji;
3.Cease the implementation of so-called development projects that are detrimental to the life and culture of the Sapara and other indigenous peoples in Ecuador;
4.Respect indigenous peoples’ right to self determination as enshrined in the UNDRIP, of which Ecuador is a signatory.

We call on the Inter-American Human Rights Council and the United Nations to:
1.Investigate and ascertain the culpability of Ecuadorian state agents in harassing Ushigua and other indigenous peoples’ and environmental activists;
2.Immediately determine the liability of large multi-national and State-owned companies in violating the rights of the Sapara peoples and other indigenous peoples in Ecuador.

We urge everyone to remain vigilant against all forms of attack on the right of indigenous peoples to self determination. We call on all advocates and activists to stand firm, to not be cowed, and to fight back where necessary and needed.

Stop the killings! End militarization! Fight Back!

Reference:
Ms. Beverly Longid
IPMSDL Global Coordinator

*photos courtesy of gettyimages.com and amazonwatch.org

IPMSDL Solidarity Statement to the Higaonon Peoples of the Philippines

clbf1q0ukaakra8The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) expresses its solidarity with the Higaonon people’s plight against militarization of their community. We also condemn the acts of State security forces in the Philippines that have forced the Higaonon peoples to move out of their homes and ancestral lands for fear of their lives.

This is not the first time the Higaonons have had to flee their homes in Barangay Banglay, Lagonglong town in Misamis Oriental province. The Philippine military also harassed the Higaonons of Lagonglong on the months of May, July and October 2015. The Higaonons were also forced to evacuate their homes and lands during those times for fear of further harassment and intimidation by state security forces.

The Higaonons of Lagonglong were once more forced to flee their homes on June 5, 2016 when members of the Philippine Army camped within their communities, forcibly entered their homes even when the homeowners denied them permission, and continuously asked them to turn over their arms despite the Higaonons’ denial of having any in their homes. State security forces have been pressing the Higaonons to accept the government’s so-called “peace and development” program even when the Higaonon’s have repeatedly refused to have anything to do with the government’s state security plan. The military also did not respect the verbal agreement made between the group’s leaders and the Philippine Army wherein state security forces had to ask permission from the Higaonons before entering their territory.

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These acts by the Philippine military are in clear violation of the indigenous peoples rights to self-determination and development. We join the Higaonon peoples’ call on the Philippine government and its security forces to:

1.Immediately pull out their forces encamped in the Higaonon lands in Brgy. Banglay, Lagonglong, Misamis Oriental, Philippines;
2.Cease further militarization, entering without consent, and putting up of detachments in Lumad communities;
3.Pull out all military troops stationed or encamped in indigenous lands;
4.Stop the recruitment of indigenous peoples in paramilitary groups;
5.Facilitate the return of thousands of Lumad evacuees to their ancestral domains without fear of reprisal;
6.Investigate cases of violations of indigenous peoples rights by state security forces;
7.Prosecute those responsible for violations of indigenous people’s rights.

We also urge the Philippine government to support the Higaonons in their evacuation camps until they are safely back in their homes. We encourage all indigenous peoples and human rights advocates to support the call of the Higaonons to return to their homes without fear of militarization.###

End Militarization! Fight Back!

Reference:
Ms. Beverly Longid
IPMSDL Global Coordinator

*photos courtesy of Panalipdan Youth NMR

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IPMSDL Statement on the Assumption of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte to the Presidency of the Republic of the Philippines

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The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) welcomes the pro-indigenous peoples rights pronouncements of Mr. Rodrigo Duterte as he assumes office as president of the Republic of the Philippines this June 30, 2016.

All over the world, indigenous peoples and their right to self determination are under attack by neo-liberal globalization. Large multi-national and state-owned corporations have repeatedly violated indigenous peoples’ rights to freely determine the utilization of their resources within their ancestral lands. Government security agents continue to harass and murder indigenous peoples rights defenders who valiantly fight against the violation of their rights to land and ancestral domain. Indigenous peoples right to development is undermined by development aggression and the self-serving agenda of bureaucrats in government.

The Philippines is no exception. Between July 2010 and September 2015, 82 indigenous peoples and environmental rights defenders have been murdered by government security forces and their para-military forces. Thousands of students were forced to stop schooling due to enforced closure of schools for indigenous peoples by the military, and thousands more have been forced to evacuate their ancestral lands due to militarization and red-baiting.

The IPMSDL welcomes Mr. Duterte’s pronouncements of support for the struggle of indigenous peoples and their right to self determination. We look forward to Mr Duterte’s fulfilling his promises of supporting the development of indigenous peoples and the protection of ancestral lands from destructive mining, logging and power companies.

In line with our commitment to further the cause of indigenous peoples, we call on the Duterte administration to:
1.End all forms of militarization of indigenous peoples communities;
2.Stop extrajudicial killings, vilification, red-baiting and harassment of indigenous peoples and environmental rights defenders;
3.Respect indigenous peoples’ right to self determination;
4.Provide basic social services for indigenous peoples, especially the women and children indigenous peoples;
5.Prosecute all government officials involved in fraudulent contracts that undermine the right to self determination of indigenous peoples, especially in the issuance of Certificates of Ancestral Domain Claims and Certificates of Ancestral Domain Titles.

However, we know that change is not instantaneous. We do see several urgent issues that we hope Mr. Duterte can address within the first 100 days of his presidency. We urge Mr. Duterte to:
1.Re-organize the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples to really serve the interests of indigenous peoples in the country;
2.Review and, if necessary, recall and cancel all contracts given to large-scale mining and energy corporations that are in violation of the right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of indigenous peoples;
3.Immediately pull out all government security and military forces encamped in indigenous peoples communities and prohibit them from entering indigenous peoples communities without permission from the community members themselves;
4.Allow all internally displaced indigenous peoples to return to their homes without fear of reprisal and harassment;
5.Dismantle the Alamara, Bagani, Magahat and other para-military forces under the Philippine Armed Forces that continue to harass and kill indigenous peoples rights defenders;
6.Re-establish indigenous peoples schools and other development and socio-economic projects that were forcibly closed under the previous administration.

We sincerely hope that under Mr Duterte, indigenous peoples will be free to exercise their right to self determination. Finally, we hope that, indeed, for indigenous peoples and other exploited people of the Philippines, change is coming.

Stop the Killings! End Militarization Now! Fight Back!

Reference:
Ms. Beverly Longid
IPMSDL Global Coordinator

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