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On attacks against indigenous peoples in the Philippines

March 4, 2018

We, representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations from various countries in Asia participating in the Asia Preparatory Meeting on UN Mechanisms and Procedures Relating to Indigenous Peoples held from February 28 to March 3, 2018, express alarm over the worsening attacks against indigenous peoples in the Philippines under President Duterte’s tyrannical regime.

A few days ago on February 27, two Lumads from the Philippines, Kerlan Fanagel and Lorna Mora, were barred by the Philippine immigration from traveling outside the country to participate in the Asia Preparatory Meeting to talk about the issues of the Lumads and learn about UN mechanisms that may be useful in their campaign against violations to their rights to their ancestral lands and resources, and human rights.

Kerlan was informed that he could not travel due to an active court case against him along with several other individuals. Kerlan believed that they were referring to fabricated charges that were filed against him and 14 others related to the mass evacuation and sanctuary of Lumads in Davao a few years ago. He showed the immigration officers a proof that the case was dismissed in 2016. In February 2017, Kerlan was able to travel to Norway and share on the issues of the Lumad. Lorna, on the other hand, was questioned by the immigration officers who did not entertain her request for them to call and confirm with her colleagues regarding their endorsement of her travel.

This event shows the continued discrimination against indigenous peoples in the Philippines and the curtailment of their basic rights, such as right to mobility and freedom of expression.

Presently, the attacks against indigenous peoples come in the form of political extrajudicial killings, filing of fabricated charges against indigenous leaders and activists, forced evacuation, harassment, intimidation, illegal arrests and detention, and political repression. Under the regime of President Duterte, every month at least 2 indigenous peoples are extrajudicially killed. Philippine indigenous peoples organizations have also recorded at least 62 illegal arrests, 21 political prisoners, 20 incidents of forced evacuation affecting 21,966 indigenous peoples, more than a hundred people facing trumped-up charges, and forcible closure of 34 Lumad schools from July 2016 to December 2017. These are all rooted to the state’s counter-insurgency policies, state terrorism and martial law, and the development aggression in the resource-rich indigenous territories.

In this light, we urge the Philippine government to immediately end its tyrannical rule that is putting at risk the lives of thousands of indigenous peoples, lift martial law in Mindanao, stop the All Out War in the Philippines, drop the trumped-up charges against indigenous peoples and human rights defenders, stop the plunder and exploitation of ancestral lands, and resume the peace talks between the Government of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines to address the roots of the armed conflict in the country.

We also urge the Philippine government to uphold the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), World Conference of Indigenous Peoples (WCIP) Outcome Document, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Humanitarian Law, and other international human rights agreements that the Philippine government is a signatory to.

Signed by representatives of indigenous peoples’ organizations present in the Asia Preparatory Meeting on UN Mechanisms and Procedures Relating to Indigenous Peoples.

March 3, 2018

Bhubaneswar, India

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