Reclaim Our Lands and Our Lives!
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) joins the Manobo Lumad people of the Caraga region in the Philippines in their campaign to reclaim their ancestral lands and their ways of life. The Lumad of Surigao del Sur and the whole of Mindanao island in Southern Philippines have been actively campaigning for justice for victims of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by government forces as well as an end to the militarization of their ancestral lands.
On September 1, 2015, Emerito Samarca, director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), and Datu Jovello Sinzo and Dionel Campos were summarily executed by paramilitary forces under the Magahat-Bagani group supported by the Philippine military. The paramilitary and military forces then remained encamped in the area of Barangay Diatago, Lianga in Surigao del Sur province. The Manobo people from the said area had no choice but to leave their ancestral lands and way of life rather than suffer more abuses from government forces. Since then more violations were committed by government forces, resulting in the forced evacuation of more Lumad from their ancestral lands. Over 2000 Lumad from five different towns of Surigao del Sur province alone have been forced to endure a year of hardship in evacuation centers in the provincial capitol due to the government’s relentless campaign to sell ancestral lands to large corporations interested only in exploiting the natural resources of indigenous peoples’ lands. Until today, not a single soldier or paramilitary personnel has been convicted for crimes committed against the Lumad.
Today, the Lumad continue their heroic struggle against militarization and indigenous rights violations with the support of indigenous rights advocates from the Philippines and the rest of the world. On September 2, 2015, the Manobo people from Lianga will return to their village in Barangay Diatago as a symbol of the Lumad campaign to reclaim their ancestral lands and their lives from the hands of the military. This return and reconstruction will start a wave of “reclamations” by different Lumad groups of their ancestral lands that they have been forced to leave due the presence of military and paramilitary forces and large corporations.
We recognize this “reclamation” as an act of defiance by the Lumad against continuing state repression of Indigenous Peoples. We are also cognizant of the fact that state and military forces and large corporations with vested economic interests are sure to look upon this “reclamation” as a challenge to their power. It is all too likely that they will devise a more savage way of ensuring that ancestral lands remain, now and forever, in the hands of the powerful few. We expect instensification of militarization and landgrabbing of ancestral lands. We urge our Lumad sisters and brothers to be ever vigilant in defending our territories and ways of life as we continue to strengthen our selves and the movement to uphold the right to self determination of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines.
We are one with the Lumad people of Mindanao in the campaign to reclaim and defend their territories and ways of life. We are awed by the courage of the Lumad in the face of great hardships they have faced the past year. We will continue to support the Indigenous People’s fight against militarization and other indigenous and people’s rights abuses not only in the Philippines but the rest of the world as well.
Reclaim Our Lands and Our Lives! Defend Our Territories and Ways Of Life! Stop The Killings! End Militarization!
Ms. Beverly Longid
IPMSDL Global Coordinator