IPMSDL Statement On the Harassment of 15 Indigenous Peoples Rights Defenders in the Philippines

haran-15On May 13, 2016, 15 Indigenous Peoples rights defenders were charged with kidnapping and serious illegal detention of more than one thousand Lumad (Indigenous Peoples) in Davao City, Philippines. The Lumad were encamped in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran compound since April 2015, forced to leave their homes and their ancestral lands due to heavy militarization and proliferation of para-military forces in their lands.

The 15 indigenous peoples rights defenders are Kerlan Fanagel, a Lumad leader and member of Kalumaran Mindanao, a Lumad organization based in Mindanao; Sr. Stella Matutina, 2015 recepient of Germany’s Weimar Award for Human Rights; Reverend Jurie Jaime; Sister Restita Miles; Save Our Schools Network spokesperson Ruis Valle; women’s rights activist Mary Ann Sapar of Gabriela; children’s rights advocate Kharlo Manano of Salinlahi Alliance; and people’s rights defenders Sheena Duazo, Hanimay Suazo, Ryan Lariba, Tony Salubre, Jimboy Maciano, Jaja Encosio, Pedro Arnado and Isidro Andao. They are collectively called the Haran 15.

The Philippine military and some government officials have accused these Indigenous Peoples rights defenders of preventing the Manobo peoples from returning to their homes in Kapalong and Talaingod towns even as these same Manobo peoples have continually expressed their fear of returning to their ancestral lands due to the presence of military and para-military forces. The Lumad have also lamented time and again the military’s forced closure of their indigenous schools resulting in the disruption of classes of hundreds of indigenous children.

The Philippine military and several lawmakers tried unsuccessfully to force the Lumad to return to their ancestral lands in 2015, resulting in a scuffle in front of the Haran compound that left several people slightly injured. The abuses against Indigenous Peoples prompted the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights of internally displaced people Chaloka Beyani to visit the refugees.

A case was filed against the 15 Indigenous Peoples rights defenders in 2015 but was dismissed by the courts for lack of evidence. The case, however, was appealed in 2016 by Philippine military-backed individuals and, as a result, the warrant of arrest was issued against the Indigenous Peoples rights defenders. It seems a shameless act of manipulation of the justice system by the Philippine military in order to silence Indigenous Peoples rights activists and defenders.

The IPMSDL decries the attempts by the Philippine military and several personalities in the government to continually harass and intimidate Indigenous Peoples rights defenders. The military has gone so far as to tag these defenders and their organizations as members or supporters of the communist New People’s Army (NPA). This red-baiting is an attempt by the Philippine military to delegitimize the assertion of Indigenous Peoples right to self determination, as well as to demonize advocates who continuously support these assertions.

The IPMSDL is also worried that this incident comes on the eve of the attempts between the new government and the National Democratic Front to forge a just and lasting peace through talks that will cover the root causes of internal conflicts that have led to enforced evacuation of Indigenous Peoples of their ancestral lands.

We must not allow fabricated charges against Indigenous Peoples rights defenders to fan the flames of conflict. The IPMSDL therefore calls on the Philippine government to:

1. Immediately rescind the warrant of arrest issued against the Haran 15;
2. Drop all trumped-up charges filed against the Haran 15;
3. Ensure the peaceful return of the Lumad in Haran to their ancestral lands;
4. Cease militarization of ancestral lands of the Lumad and other Indigenous Peoples.

Ms. Beverly Longid
IPMSDL Global Coordinator

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Statement Condemning The Murder of Lesbia Yaneth Urquia of Honduras

An outpouring of grief at the wake of Lesbia Yaneth Urquia (Photo courtesy of la tribuna)

The IPMSDL condemns in the strongest possible terms the murder of woman indigenous peoples and environmental rights activist Lesbia Yaneth Urquia in Honduras. Urquia’s body was found in a garbage dump the town of Marcala, 160 km west of Honduras’ capital Tegucigalpa on July 7, 2016.

Urquia joins the long list of activists who became victims of extrajudicial killings in Honduras. In March 3, armed men entered the home of Goldman Prize winner Berta Caceres and shot her to death. Less than two weeks later, her fellow activist Nelson Garcia was shot in the face by unidentified men while walking home. The three are all active members of the Honduras-based Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (Copinh). Copinh has been actively campaigning against the construction of one of the largest hydro-electric dams in Latin America, which will affect the ancestral lands of the Lencan peoples of Honduras. Urquia and the other two are members of the Lencan people.

Honduras is considered one of the deadliest countries for indigenous peoples and environmental rights activists in the world. It is common knowledge in Honduras that most, if not all, of these extrajudicial killings were done by State military agents in cooperation, sometimes at the prodding and funding of, large corporations determined to encroach on indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands.

We are saddened by the loss of a fellow indigenous peoples rights activist, and promise to continue her and other indigenous peoples rights activists’ legacy of militant struggle against anyone, may they be mammoth corporations or murderous State security agents, who threatens our ancestral lands and who choose to take away our right to self determination and our right to our lands.

We strongly urge the Honduran government to:

1. Immediately investigate and prosecute those responsible for the deaths of Urquia, Caceres, Garcia and other victims of extrajudicial killings;
2. Cease all harassment and killings of indigenous peoples rights activists;
3. Respect the right to self determination of the Lencan and other indigenous peoples.

We recommend to the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to:

1. Increase pressure on governments who continue to violate the rights of indigenous peoples to self determination;
2. Launch an investigation on multi-national companies and governments involved in violations of indigenous peoples rights.

Stop the Killings! End Militarization! Fight Back!

Ms. Beverly Longid
IPMSDL Global Coordinator

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Malaysia: Joint Statement by CSOs Condemning the Assassination of Bill Kayong


Miri, Sarawak, 22 June 2016

We, the undersigned Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) are extremely shocked, angered and saddened by the untimely demise of our comrade and friend, Bill Kayong from a drive by assassination yesterday morning at the traffic light next to eMart, Senadin in Miri, Sarawak.

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Philippines: Lumad organizations call on Duterte administration for the immediate nullification of the warrants of arrest against 15 leaders and IP advocates


Lumad organizations, through their Mindanao-wide alliance Kalumaran, demand the quashing of the warrants of arrest against indigenous leaders and advocates helping the internally displaced communities due to the militarization of Philippine government troops.

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Statement on Extrajudicial Killings and Illegal Detentions of Palaung and Shan peoples of Myanmar

A corpse lies in a shallow grave in Long Mon village in Shan State, Myanmar, 30 June 2016. (Photo courtesy of http://www.iphrdefenders.net)

The IPMSDL strongly condemns the extrajudicial killings of seven indigenous peoples from the Palaung and Shan peoples of Shan State in Myanmar.

The Palaung and Shan peoples are two of the several indigenous peoples fighting for their right to self determination in Myanmar. For decades the Palaung and Shan peoples have faced encroachment of their lands by the Myanmar government. Heavy militarization has led to increasing number of indigenous rights violations and extrajudicial killings. Many of the Palaung and Shan people were forced to leave their homes for fear of further violations by the Myanmar military. The Palaung and Shan peoples have been fighting for their right to self determination for several years now, with many of them joining the armed liberation movements.

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

gloeia ushigua1

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.

gloria ushigua2

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!

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.


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!

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


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!

Ms. Beverly Longid
IPMSDL Global Coordinator

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Joint Statement by Dewan Adat Papua and Alifuru Council in the 15th session of the UNPFII

Joint Statement by Dewan Adat Papua and Alifuru Council

Item 3: Follow-up to the recommendation of the Permanent Forum

(d) Follow-up to the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples


Delivered by Leonard Imbiri, General Secretary of Dewan Adat Papua


Mr. Chairperson, Distinguish members of the Permanent Forum, distinguish delegates, indigenous brothers and sisters,

Congratulations to Mr. Alvaro Pop for your appointment as Chairperson, and our indigenous relations Dr. Claire Charter and Professor James Anaya as advisers to the PGA.

Mr. Chair,

The continuing threats to the cultural heritage of Indigenous Peoples summons a planned approach by the United Nations and its member States to comply with their international human rights obligations relating to indigenous peoples, including those under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the commitments made in the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples outcome document.

We, the indigenous peoples of West Papua and South-Maluku are recognizing the significant role of the Forum in the advocacy for the implementation of the UN Declaration and the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples outcome document. We furthermore appreciate the commitments and reaffirmations made by Member States and UN agencies, however we are concerned that much work remains to be done for the full implementation of the outcome document within the United Nations, and its member States.

West Papua and South-Maluku are still consistently suffering from human rights violations, loss of their ancestral lands for extractive industries without their Free, Prior and informed consent, as they for example occur on the islands of Seram, Aru, and Romang in South-Maluku, and and Merauke in West Papua, and face grave violations when so-called development programs invade our indigenous territories. The right to freedom expression is really a big challenges and for example in West Papua, where 1,783 persons were arrested between 25 April and 2 May 2016 as they were organized peacefully demonstrations.

Mr. Chair,

The World Conference Outcome Document process is a positive established example that enabled a constructive dialogue between Member States and Indigenous Peoples. This is a partnership we appeal to the United Nations to continue, especially in light of the development of the system-wide action plan. We agree that it is high-time that the UN Declaration is streamlined and that regional and national UN mechanisms, including the regional commissions and the UN country teams, ensure that Indigenous peoples can meaningfully be part of the development and strategizing of programmes and activities in a structured and coherent manner.


The UN system must ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in this process in accordance with Article 18 of the UN Declaration, in this regard we reiterate previous calls for partnership and mutual respect between States and Indigenous Peoples, emphasizing that all parties must consult and cooperate in good faith with Indigenous Peoples allowing equal, direct and meaningful participation in existing dialogues in UN funds & specialized agencies, and the creation of mechanisms in processes that affect Indigenous peoples, the World Health Organization, International Maritime Organization, are such processes.



Therefore, we recommend to the Forum:

  • To promote and accommodate capacity development for member States and its officials on the UN Declaration, to achieve adequate national action plans, strategies, and measures for the implementation of the UN Declaration on the ground, and to overcome the obstacles in the advocacy for indigenous rights by member State officials in processes like UNFCCC.
  • That the members pro-actively advocate for the further development of a clear, concise, and complete System Wide Action Plan. Which includes mainstreaming the UN Declaration, not only in existing mechanisms and forums, but throughout the UN system to ensure that all agencies’ activities that affect indigenous peoples have a forum where indigenous peoples can participate in its decision making processes.

Thank you Mr. Chair,


Joint Statement of IPMSDL and its allied organizations and institutions in the 15th session of the UNPFII


 Thank you. (This is a joint statement of the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and its allied organizations and institutions.)

We are appreciative that the Forum worked for this year’s theme – conflict, peace, and resolution that includes the urgent and growing concern of militarization – an issue often kept out of public information. However, in nearly every region of the world, militarization displaces and presents a direct threat to the ways of life and survival of Indigenous Peoples.

We see militarization in various forms such as in the encampment and occupation of indigenous villages to military combat operations or any so-called anti-terrorism actions, creation of paramilitary groups, construction of foreign or US military bases and testing facilities, and others.

Militarization has been and is a major cause of poverty among Indigenous Peoples worldwide.

It results in loss of lives, homes, and livelihood, as well as destruction and pollution of ancestral and sacred lands, material culture, and biodiversity and the environment.

Intensified military operations in indigenous territories leave communities without food, shelter or protection and with the killings of indigenous leaders force Indigenous Peoples to evacuate in other areas.The killing or assassination of indigenous and traditional leaders makes the community vulnerable to manipulation and coercion.

Militarization also makes women more vulnerable to sexual violence, harassment, and rape.

States legitimize all these through national security policies and anti-terrorism laws.

(Mr. Chairperson, our brothers and sisters have already spoken well on specific cases on the adverse impact of militarization, which I shall not repeat.)

We are concerned that the conflicts over valuable resources necessary for the survival of all shall further intensify and aggression against Indigenous Peoples shall escalate. Militarization shall play a major role for States and corporations to gain further control over Indigenous Peoples’ lands, territories, waters and all natural resources found therein, in violation of the right to free prior informed consent and self-determination (FPIC), and without restitution and compensation.

We are aware that SDG #16 addresses issues related to peace and justice. However, it fails to address the pressing concern of militarization of indigenous territories and communities.



  1. Urge the States with existing national internal security policies and anti-terrorism laws such as the Philippines’ Anti-Terrorism Law and India’s Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958 to review such domestic standards and ensure that such measures are compliant with international human rights principles and international humanitarian laws;


  1. Support the call for the pullout of State security forces in indigenous territories; disband, and disarm paramilitary groups and private military contractors that threaten, harass, and intimidate Indigenous Peoples with the aim of breaking their collective unity and struggles for land, life, and justice. In line with this, hold a session in the next UNPFII on paramilitary forces.


  1. Look into the expansion of the definition of Official Development Aid (ODA), which include “peace and security” costs, as well as costs related to “countering violent extremism.” Considering the OECD-DAC definition of “violent extremism,”which means,“Promoting views which foment and incite violence in furtherance of particular beliefs, and foster hatred which might lead to intercommunity violence.” It is vague, ambiguous and all encompassing that Indigenous Peoples assertion of the right to self-determination and defense of ancestral lands can fall under the definition of “violent extremism.”The shift might also clear the way for the militarization of aid, and the use of aid against Indigenous Peoples struggles and resistance.


  1. Urge the States to fulfill their commitments for world peace starting with reviewing towards withdrawing foreign military aid that supports military activities in indigenous territories, and reallocation and realignment of military spending to support basic and fundamental human right such as on health, education, and housing especially for Indigenous Peoples.


  1. Support the proposals that promote the independence and build the integrity of national human rights institutions to monitor, investigate and recommend actions on State-perpetrated violations of Indigenous Peoples human rights.


  1. Recognize indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination and inherent rights over lands and resources as one of the key means of ending militarization and subsequent impacts on indigenous communities.


Thank you!