On the Investigation and Initiation of Commission on Inquiry for Human Rights Violations in PH

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) echoes the urgent demand for a fact-finding mission and commission on inquiry concerning the rampant human rights violations in the Philippines, as demanded by different people’s organizations, and pushed by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

Since President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration took office in 2016, more than 12,000 deaths from the bloody war on drugs, “Oplan Tokhang”, have been reported, majority of which are from the urban poor. With the on-going Martial Law in the whole island of Mindanao, in the Southern Philippines, heavy militarization through encampments of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and attacks on indigenous and peasant communities resulted to forced evacuations of the Lumad who are also terrorized by almost day-to-day reports of extra-judicial killings, threats, harassments, and illegal arrests. Also, under the backdrop of the current counter-insurgency program “Oplan Kapayapaan,” a crackdown on human rights defenders and peoples’ organizations resulted to indiscriminate arrests and fake surrenders of alleged communist rebels and members of the New People’s Army, as part of the attempts to silence critics and voices of dissent.

Indigenous Peoples (IP) leaders and activists were not spared as several were included in the “terrorist list” of the Department of Justice including IPMSDL Global Coordinator Beverly Longid, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of Indigenous Peoples Vicky Tauli-Corpuz, Cordillera Peoples Alliance Chairperson Windel Bolinget, SANDUGO Co-Chairperson Joanna Cariño, former Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact Secretary General Joan Carling, former member of UN EMRIP Jose Molintas, and leader of Tontongan ti Umili Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, among many others. With the current atmosphere of impunity in the Philippines, activists campaigning for the rights to ancestral land against large-scale mining and other extractive industries become targets of human rights violations by state-forces.

Instead of pursuing peace and justice, President Duterte has affirmed immunity to state-forces against any investigation or criminal case, and even encouraged them to carry on the attacks and offensives for the war on drugs and other counter-insurgency campaigns. While indigenous and human rights organizations call for state-accountability, military and police forces tainted by these issues were either promoted or re-assigned to different posts in the government.

The IPMSDL resolves to rally behind the IP, marginalized sectors, and peoples to call for justice in this climate of impunity and senseless killings in the Philippines. We echo the call of the UNHRC for the immediate cooperation of the government for the investigation and complete stop of the war on drugs and ensure the human rights and right to freedom of expression of all its citizens. We call on the international community, IP organizations, peace advocates and defenders of human rights to drumbeat the Filipino people’s pursuit of justice and lasting peace.

 

Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator | info@ipmsdl.org

On the Militarization of Higaonon Communities in Misamis Oriental

Militarization tramples Higaonon Indigenous Peoples Right to Self-Determination,
d
isregards their human rights, and violates FPIC!

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) extends its highest solidarity with the Higaonon Lumad peoples of Misamis Oriental, Philippines who struggle to defend their ancestral lands from resource plunder and militarization.

Higaonon people were forcibly evacuated from their ancestral lands after the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) occupied their village, and subjected them to threats, harassment, and intimidation. Last May 26, the battalion-size military built their camp in the ancestral lands of Higaonon as a prelude to the entry of so-called development projects. Military camps and detachments in their territory are set up by the State and corporation to quell any resistance from the community and protect the business interests of private entities. The experiences of Higaonon and Lumad peoples underscores militarization as a scheme to force forward development projects in their ancestral lands that do not reflect the genuine needs and aspirations of Indigenous communities. At the expense of the Higaonon’s right to free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC), local government favors large corporations and businesses.

Threats, violence, and intimidation brought by militarization instill fear in the IP communities. Military elements force the local community to confess that they are members of the communist rebels, New People’s Army (NPA), and surrender. Some of them were tied and rough-handled among other physical abuses.

The rich resources in the ancestral lands of Higaonon in the town of Lagonglong, adjacent to the Mount Balatukan, is known for its hot springs and inactive volcano viable for geothermal energy development. The untouched gold deposits in the nearby lakes has also been reported as target for mining and extractive projects.

For IP and other national minorities, land is life. Indigenous communities have the most important role in determining the future of our ancestral land that is closely linked to our identity and right to self-determination. All forms of development projects and militarization that threaten to plunder ancestral lands and IP ways of life are inexcusable and is a grave violation of our rights.

We call on the all Indigenous communities, IP rights advocates, human rights defenders, and peace advocates all over the world to stand and support the Higaonon’s demand to safely go back to their villages. We demand the total pull out of military forces in our ancestral lands, and any future encampments in any IP territory. Let us fight together to defeat all attempts of exploitation and oppression by the ruling elites. Let us stand in solidarity with all struggling Indigenous communities for the recognition and actual realization of IP right to self-determination and self-determined sustainable development in the Philippines and in all parts of the world.

NO TO MILITARIZATION AND CORPORATE PLUNDER OF ANCESTRAL LANDS!

FIGHT FOR THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLES RIGHT FOR SELF-DETERMINATION!

 

Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator | info@ipmsdl.org

Report on the Philippine Visit

Editor’s Note: This article was written by Jenison Urikhimbam from Manipur, Northeast India after his visit in the Philippines in November 2017. Here, he writes about the various activities he was able to participate in during his stay in the country: the International Solidarity Conference to Resist US Imperialist-Led War and Build Just Peace organized by the the International League of People’s Struggle Asia-Pacific,  parallel activities during the East Asia/ASEAN Summits organized by various civil society and people’s organizations, and the International Interfaith Humanitarian Mission organized by the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.#

 

10th November, 2017: On the day of the arrival, I was able to attend the conference cum workshop on International Solidarity to Resist US Imperialist-Led War and Build Just Peace. People from various parts of the world had attended the program. It was the first time for me to attend a conference discussing the issues and impacts of US Imperialism. After digesting what the speakers have shared, I could further capture and understand the trend of suffering experienced by the people due to colonization and its impact. It was eye-opening for me to have been part of the discussion and I was also able to share some of the issues which we face in Manipur after the imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 in the North-East Region.

 

On the 11th of November, we attended the gathering for the 100 years of the October Revolution at the University of the Philippines. Representatives from Korea, Japan, Malaysia, India, and Africa had shared about their people’s struggle and how much the people’s struggle is important to combat the colonial forces globally. It was interesting to understand the dynamics of coming in of many financial institutions.

On the 12th of November, I have attended the discussion on Militarism and Development Cooperation proving the state of conflict and fragility in Asia-Pacific. It could be learned that there is a huge presence of USA troops across the world as there are 700-800 bases and wherever there are bases present, there are always violations of people’s rights including the right to self-determination. During the presentation, it was highlighted that there are many Fillipino-Americans serving in the US Army and are well-oriented in terms of Filipino culture, tradition, and others before they are deployed. Deploying people in their own country and controlling is one of the techniques used by the USA.

During the presentation, I have further learned about Development and Militarism tools, the counter insurgency field manual to fight the global war on terror. A guide to counter insurgency is well documented and consolidated by nine US governments agencies: defense, justice, treasury, home land security, agriculture, transportation, USAID, etc. It covers all the aspects. This guide has influenced the Government of the Philippines. The concept behind was introduced under the General Petraeus, the documents presents the formula and other needs at various levels.

The Asia Pacific Research Network presented on People’s Response and Resistance vs Militarism in Asia Pacific. It gave us the picture on how the people responded to ban the bases and how the movement to ban the US troops was mobilized in the Philippines, Henoko in Japan, and in South Korea. The protest against the Military Exercises in Philippines was also highlighted, as well as the Stop War Exercises and Start Peace Talk in South Korea, and the Boycott Divest Sanction Movement to end international support to Israel, etc.

During the discussion, Iwata from Japan, Kun OO from Myanmar, Amirah from Mindanao, and Rey Asis presented issues on:

• the impact of war on women and children, the impact on health, gender-based violence, displacement, etc.
• the impact on migrant workers; migrants are the target as they are cheap labor and the rights of migrant workers are limited in many aspects; and how this leads to violence
• the impact on the indigenous peoples; their lands are targets for extraction of natural resources by the multi-national corporations; and the existing conflict between the state actors and non-state actors like the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front
• control of natural resources by the military and investors wherein the cutting of forest is illegal for the public but legal for the military and businesses

On the 13th of November, it was very encouraging to see a large number of young indigenous peoples coming out the street to shout and fight for their rights during the ASEAN Summit where many so-called leaders were present to discuss about their economic ties by neglecting what the people want.

The anger and hatred towards the imperialists due to suppression and suffering for many decades were expressed during the mass mobilization in Manila. Seeing such devoted participation by the people from across the country gives the impression that the imperialists will find it hard to gain control over the people so easily.

The systematic control over the crowd and organizing such a huge number of people democratically was highly appreciated.

 


On the 15th of November, we left for Mindanao to attend the International Interfaith Humanitarian Mission. After reaching Mindanao, we have gathered at a church where the dinner was served. We were warmly welcomed by Sis. Romena Pineda, Sis. Maria Luz, Fr. John, Mr. Peter Murphy of ICHRP, Ms Amirah among others and were briefed shortly about what we will be doing in the coming days.

The next day on the 16th of November, after the breakfast, we were briefed about the background of the existing scenario. Ms. Amirah highlighted that the population of Christians is 13 Million, Moro Population is 3.7 Million, Lumad Population is 2.1 Million, ARMM is 2.4 Million. As Mindanao is rich in natural resources, many multi-national corporations are after it and many illegal mining of Nickel is going on in some part of Languyan Island, Mindanao.

As she explained, it could be learned that the issues of the Moro are part of the peace talks. The issue of Moro is the self-determination and the term ‘Moro’ is Political and fighting for justice is their reason. As the term Moro is not accepted by others, there are many people who prefer to be called Muslim. Remaining speakers had also briefed us about the area of work which they have intervened. Later after the briefing, a Press Meet was conducted to kick off the Humanitarian Mission.

The participants were divided into groups and on the same day after lunch, we headed to the assigned places. Our team headed to the Iligan City where some of the IDPs are settled.

After reaching the place, we were all accommodated in a community hall. We were warmly welcomed by the local volunteers and the affected people. Some people are assigned to distribute the food and other relief materials while the others were taking the case history from the affected people.

My team got to interact with one Ms. Aliah Maladato, aged about 32 years, from Unayan Street, Marawi. She is a house wife living with 4 children. On the 23rd May 2017, during a crossfire between the so-called ISIS and the military started, none of her family members came out of the house till the 25th of May. On the 24th May, they heard a bombing very close to their house which made them decide to leave the place. In their family, there are 3 patients suffering from stroke which made it more difficult for them to manage and leave the house.

They took the road way and water way to reach the Tamparan Province as directed by her father-in-law. While her husband and the father-in-law were in the boat, they were followed by the military helicopter and fired several rounds, fortunately they were not hit by the bullets. After reaching Tamparan, due to scarcity of food, they were compelled to leave for Iligan City where they have rented a house and her husband sold fish in the market for their survival. We also learned that her family was informed about their house getting burned through Facebook by the local police and some neighbors.

 

On 17th of November, we had another fact-finding mission at the Refugees camp near the Conflict Sites. As per the interaction we had, I observe that the military are well deployed and made sure that the civilians are chased out completely from the Marawi Area as they have never heard about the formation or intervention by ISIS in Marawi area. They have been targeted systematically one by one by evacuating the house and made sure that all the family members are out of the Marawi area as the Military had used the helicopter to observe whether the people are out of the area or not. The interesting part is the evacuated empty houses are bombarded after knowing that not a single person is inside the house and there is someone assigned to inform the family members through the social Medias that their house has been bombarded.

The most interesting part is that the refugee camps were already waiting for the IDPs, it is clear that the conflict was already predicted by the state.

On the same day after the 2nd Fact Finding Visit, all the participants of the Humanitarian Mission joined a protest demonstration calling to stop bombing Marawi, stop destroying Mindanao, and to stop war.

On the 18th of November, a press meet was held to inform the public about the fact sheets which we have collected and to declare the future course of action with the information which was collected by the Mission Team. After the press meet, we headed for Davao.

On the way to Davao, we got to interact with the Lumad Communities led by Datu Evencio and learned about the struggle they have been though since their land have been occupied by the large scale planters. They have shared about the suppression that they have gone through like the killing, burning down of houses, massacres, etc.

We spent a night at the community where we learned that the large-scale planter has taken the land on lease for 25 years, however, even after the expiry of the lease, they continued to occupy the land and never returned the land to the owners.

The head man Datu Aldong, after long struggle, recovered 600 hectares of land and started taking care of the cultivation.

It could be noted that in Manipur, the government of Manipur is trying to lease out the agricultural land to the companies, and here we learned that leasing out the land in Manipur may face the similar instance on how the Lumad Communities are facing.

On 20th of November, 2018, I left Davao for Manila and visited Baguio.

On the Government of Bangladesh’s War on Drugs

End Bangladesh’s “War on Drugs”!
IPMSDL’s Statement of Condemnation Against the Government of Bangladesh’s War on Drugs

 

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement on Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) vehemently condemns the Government of Bangladesh’s War on Drugs! Over 130 alleged “drug offenders” have been shot dead and at least 13,000 were arrested by Bangladeshi security forces in nationwide anti-drug operations under the Government’s Zero Tolerance Policy against illegal drugs in May 2018.

This scenario is similar to what is happening in other countries in the region, particularly in the Philippines, Cambodia, and Indonesia. These governments’ obsession with the war against drugs has cost thousands of innocent lives while many others are still at risk, especially human rights defenders and activists. These so-called wars against drugs have also been used to cover up political and extrajudicial killings which target activists who are farmers, workers, or Indigenous Peoples standing up for their rights.

The war on drugs is not a genuine effort in tackling the perceived drug problem. It promotes rampant human rights violation through its one-sided shootouts and arbitrary arrests instead of investing in public healthcare and rehabilitation services, or better yet, addressing the roots of the drug addiction and social unrest by improving the quality and accessibility of social services that will enable the development of the peoples’ general welfare.

IPMSDL calls for justice for all the victims of the systematic killings and demand that the perpetrators of these atrocities be brought to justice. We also echo the call of civil society organizations in a statement initiated by the International Drug Policy Consortium and the Asian Network of People Who Use Drugs: “Let us remain vigilant to other countries showing signs of adopting similar repressive policies, and initiate constructive and inclusive dialogue at an early stage to avoid further human rights violations in the name of drug control”.

 

STOP EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS! UPHOLD HUMAN RIGHTS!

JUSTICE FOR ALL THE VICTIMS OF STATE-PERPETRATED VIOLENCE!

LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

 

Reference: Beverly Longid, IPMSDL Global Coordinator | info@ipmsdl.org