On the Occasion of the International Day of the World Indigenous Peoples:
Cordillera IPs intensify the fight against tyranny to defend ancestral land, life and rights
The Cordillera people will celebrate the International Day of the Worlds’ Indigenous Peoples (IPs) on August 9 in Baguio City, calling for a stop to the intensified attacks against IPs, plunder of ancestral land and resources, militarization, and the criminalization of indigenous human rights defenders in the Cordillera and the country. Different forms of protest activities will be launched in the city, which includes an internationally coordinated social media campaign, and a cultural and protest march to be attended by indigenous peoples from around the country and the world.
Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) Secretary General Bestang Dekdeken said that this year’s World’s IP Day will be commemorated against the backdrop of intensified tyranny, criminalization, harassment and political killings of indigenous human rights defenders in the region. She cited the killing of anti-dam activist Ricardo Mayumi, the filing of trumped-up cases against five Cordillera women development workers / human rights defenders and innocent civilians, the terrorist proscription of seven past and present leaders of the CPA, the militarization and bombings of communities resisting development aggression, the intensified surveillance and harassment of the offices of regional and provincial IP organizations.
“Widespread terror against the indigenous peoples is unleashed by the government forces in connivance with big corporations to silence the strong opposition against development aggression or attacks on land, life and rights. The Duterte administration is clearly in cahoots with the mining and energy corporations, with the anomalous funding from foreign loans, to destroy our ancestral lands and attack the indigenous peoples. The intensified militarization of communities such as in Besao, Mountain Province is resulting in human rights violations, including trumped-up charges against innocent civilians Edmond and Saturnino Dazon, and disruption of peoples’ livelihood.”
Members of the Women Resist Tyranny also expressed its alarm over the intensified attacks against human rights defenders in the region.
Jeanette Ribaya-Cawiding, one of the seven CPA leaders named in a DOJ proscription list released last February, said that women activists and development workers have been at the receiving end of various trumped-up charges since last year. This, she says, made it more difficult for the delivery of basic social services, projects and campaigns in remote communities which has suffered government neglect for too long now.
“What women development workers are guilty of is having the courage to fight for our children and our kakailian against the evils that try trespass our ancestral lands. We are guilty of carrying on the fight of the brave Kalinga, Ina Petra and Bontoc women who opposed the Chico dam, the women of Abra who fought the operation of Cellophil Resources in Abra, and the all the women warriors of Cordillera who resist national oppression,” said Cawiding.
The CPA launched its social media campaign to stop the attacks against indigenous human rights defenders dubbed #DEFENDCORDILLERA which will run from August 8 to 10. They enjoin the support of all Igorots around the world and advocates of indigenous peoples rights to post, write and share their solidarity through their social media accounts.
On August 9, the IP day activities will kick-off with a protest cultural march to the Malcolm Square, bearing the theme “Kaigorotan pairtengen ti laban! Daga, biag ken karbengan salakniban!” It will be participated by mostly indigenous groups from all the six provinces of the region and Baguio City, indigenous peoples from other regions of the country and other countries. A solidarity lunch will follow and then a forum on the situation of indigenous peoples in the region. Everyone is invited to attend the said activities. ###
Secretary General, CPA