On the Sarawak Land Code Ammendment

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) stands in solidarity with the Malay and Indigenous Dayak peoples of Sarawak, Malaysia in defending their customary rights to their territorial domain and communal forest reserve, referred to as pemakai menoa and pulau galau, respectively, in the Dayak Iban language. The concluded amendment to the Sarawak Land Code limits these territorial domains to only 1,000 hectares per community but to be declared under “usufructuary right” only, or the right to use but not to own. The exploitation of such rights has been done more than 30 years ago and has only deteriorated from bad to worse.

On July 14, 2018, hundreds of Indigenous Peoples (IP) protested in Bintulu town, Sarawak to reject the land code that erodes their rights over ancestral lands, by putting absolute power to demarcate land use and ownership to the State Land and Survey director of the government. This jeopardizes the entire culture, life, and right to self-determination of IP as the land code only provides a piecemeal portion from the customary territory the IP have been developing since time immemorial. Instead of promoting cooperation and involvement of the Dayak, the state railroaded the amendments without any IP representative.

Historically, the global IP situation depicts the systemic failure of state laws in upholding IP rights. More so, these state laws and policies are continuously used by the governments and private sector to dispossess IP of their ancestral lands and territories. In Brazil, the Proposal of the Constitutional Amendment 215 (PEC 215) transfers the power to demarcate indigenous Guarani homeland forest and plains to the government’s legislative body which is drooling to give the green light to large-scale extractive and energy projects, agri-business, and infrastructures within the IP territories. In Peru, the Lima Act of 2015 and Legislative Decree No. 22175 requires several IP groups like Quecha poeples and Shipibo-Konibo peoples to crawl through bureaucratic hurdles of state lands and forest assessment, to apply for titles, and to gain only leasehold access and not full rights to indigenous lands.

The Indigenous People’s Rights Protection bill (PPHMA) in Indonesia was signed giving 13,000 out of the 8.2 million hectares of ancestral lands to indigenous communities. But the Indonesian government continuously circumvents and delays this promise, while indigenous communities face criminalization and persecution when their living space overlaps with protected areas or private concessions. Also, the promise of India’s Forest Right Act of 2006 is to award ancestral forest and land titles to indigenous communities, yet it remained hollow as IP defenders get killed after protesting against the government’s plan to expropriate their forests and lands in favor of industrial expansion and commercial land use.

Aside from land laws and policies that continue to dispossess the IP, government sponsored policies masked in counter-insurgency programs justifies militarization of IP communities where investments and corporate mining, energy and economic interests is suspiciously linked.

Ancestral lands cradle the life and culture of the indigenous peoples; it the basis of their livelihood and resources for ages. Therefore, implementation of universal declaration of IP rights over their territories must be upheld in the highest standards, and their contributions to nation-building and global development must be recognized. The solidarity of IP movements and resistance marks a decisive stride against state-sponsored oppression through disenfranchising laws and deceiving policies that only paves way for imperialist plunder of ancestral domains. We call on the international support, organizations, and IP rights defenders to stand together to unite and struggle for the protection of IP lands and territories!



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



On the PH Government’s counter-insurgency pronouncements in the UN High Level Conference

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) deplores the continuous sabotage of the Philippine administration and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in addressing human rights violations and roots of armed conflict, by putting undue delays in Peace Talks and purveying counter-insurgency war at the expense of political activists, indigenous peoples (IP) communities, and peoples’ organizations.

Last July 1, at the UN High-Level Conference of Heads of Counter-Terrorism, PH National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. likened the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing New People’s Army (NPA) to Daesh (IS) extremist group. Putting in context the Philippine Department of Justice’s ongoing petition that named IP leaders as alleged terrorists, the indefinite termination of President Duterte to the peace process dialogues with the CPP-NPA, the normalised bombings and military encampments of Lumad communities in Mindanao under the Martial Law, and the recorded arrest of 178 IP leaders, and 24 IP political detainees from July 2016 to February 2018 – all these unmasks the calibrated State maneuvers to quell the IP resistance against destructive projects such as dams, large scale mining, eco-tourism projects, and plantations.

The overwhelming support of the international community to the Filipino IP movement against human rights violations, in defense of their ancestral lands and self-determination, seems to be cobbled down by the State with a full-scale militarization to suppress and criminalize the peoples’ dissent.

We call on the international and local IP organizations, advocates, and communities to steadfastly unite against all forms of Sate repression and oppression against all IP leaders and activists alike. We call on all peace-loving citizens and human rights defenders to strengthen our linkages to all oppressed sectors in frustrate all attempts of tyranny and state terror in trampling down the peoples’ rights.


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

2nd Peace and Humanitarian Mission in General Nakar, Quezon

The Dumagat are the Indigenous Peoples from Central Luzon and Southern Tagalog regions of the Philippines. The Dumagat people live simple, semi-nomadic lives: they build temporary shelters and collect their food from the natural resources around them and after these sources are depleted, they move to another place while letting the resources in the previous settlement recover. This time, they are moving out of their homes, not as part of their traditional practice but because of the militarization of their communities.

Katribu Kalipunan ng Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas, a national alliance of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines and one of the member formations of the IPMSDL based in the Philippines, led a National Peace & Humanitarian Mission in the Dumagat Evacuation Site on May 24-25, 2018. See report and photos from the 1st mission here.

A 2nd mission was conducted on June 29-30 with Protect Sierra Madre and other volunteer organizations including IPMSDL to obtain updates since the 1st mission and to provide a second wave of relief for the evacuees.

On May 14, 2018, the 80th Infantry Battalion and 2nd Infantry Division of the Philippine Army illegally arrested and tortured two Dumagats, namely Rockey Torres and Dandoy Avillanida, accusing them as members of the communist New People’s Army.

“Nung dumating sila, parang nasakal kami” (When [the soldiers] arrived, it was like we were being suffocated)

Over 600 Dumagat villagers from the upland communities of General Nakar, Quezon were forced to leave their homes and seek refuge along the nearby Umiray River. There they set up makeshift shelters made of pieces of wood, tree branches, and tarpaulin. But after some time, barangay officials asked them to leave the site claiming that the settlement has made the area unsanitary. The makeshift shelters were also burned by the officials and the soldiers to ensure that the evacuees really leave the site. 

One of the Dumagat evacuees said that their people are decreasing in number because of inaccessibility of social services such as health services. For the residents of Barangay Umiray, the nearest hospital is at least an hour of travel and their meager income is hardly enough to  cover for the medicine expenses. One of the Dumagats claimed that he is able to earn 70 pesos (approximately 1.30 USD) for 1 sack of rattan but it takes 4 days to fill a sack, including transportation on river and land.

Pushed into isolation, and far from the mainstream, Indigenous Peoples are among the marginalized sectors of the Philippines. The intrusion of military forces in the communities further aggravate their marginalized state by depriving them of their rights to ancestral land and ways of life. We at IPMSDL condemn the militarization and harassment of Indigenous communities and its members.

We urge the Philippine Government to give attention to the rights and welfare of the Indigenous Peoples in the country. Further, we hold the government and its armed forces accountable for these acts of ethnocide. Instead of providing basic social services to its people, it has invested more in its military activities that puts civilians at risks and violates their economic, social, and cultural rights 



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