Copyright 2014. Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines.
All Rights Reserved.
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:
We are outraged at the recent killings, massive forced dislocations, harassments, threats, occupation and closing of schools in Lumad tribal communities in Mindanao over the past months at the hands of the Philippine Military and paramilitary forces under their control. The military units involved in these abuses are primarily those recent transfers of military officers to Mindanao with a track record of violence and "unexplained" killings in their areas of operation, done under the guise of counterinsurgency operations. These atrocities fit the criteria for war crimes.
Recent events targeting the Lumad tribal communities in the town of Lianga, Surigao del Sur, Mindanao demonstrate the deadly impact of these operations. On September 1, 2015, a school principal at an award-winning school was tortured and killed by government-backed indigenous paramilitary forces known as Magahat/Bagani, armed and commanded by the 36th Battalion of the Philippine Army. Two others were strafed and murdered before hundreds of witnesses of Han-ayan, Lianga town, Surigao del Sur province. Two days prior to this incident, the paramilitary group burned down the school cooperative and threatened to massacre the entire community if they did not leave. Over 3,000 individuals evacuated to nearby municipalities. This is only one of the atrocities that have been occurring in Lumad communities during the past several months. The UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, Michel Forst, called for the Philppines allow for independent investigation of these killings.
Reports from various faith-based and human rights groups document increasing human rights abuses occurring among Manobo people including the killing of three minors allegedly by elements of a Special Forces Battalion, the on-going mass evacuations of Manobo people to Davao City due to intense military operations and threats from the paramilitary group ALAMARA, and forced closings of schools and occupation by the military. Recently, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern Mindanao reported the strafing of school grounds by elements of the 26th IB troops. In Sarangani province, administrators and faculty of the Center for Lumad Advocacy and Services (CLANS), which provides education to indigenous B’laan children, had false criminal charges of serious illegal detention of evacuees and inciting to sedition filed against them. Various military officials have made pronouncements attributing the killings to “tribal conflict". When indigenous people opposed large mining operations on their lands, the conflicts with the security forces paid for by the mining companies have resulted in deaths and loss of ancestral lands.
We request that the Government of the Philippines to:
- Stop the killings of Lumad in Mindanao, and end impunity.
- Pull out military forces from Lumad communities when requested by the community
- Disband paramilitary forces, and prosecute those guilty of crimes.
- Respect the Indigenous Peoples’ right to education, livelihood, and self-determination.
Mailing Address: EANP, P.O. Box 51844, Durham, NC 27717 Email: EANP2007@email.com www.eanp.org www.facebook.com/eanphil