Solidarity is not just a hashtag; #StopLumadKillings international campaign steps-up

October 15, 2015


Solidarity is not just a hashtag

#StopLumadKillings international campaign steps-up

By Karapatan

US-based lawyers, faith-based/ecumenical institutions, distinguished university professors and human rights advocates sent letters to Phil. President Benigno Aquino III and US authorities to express the concern of the international community on the killing of Lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Juvello Sinzo and Lumad school executive Emerito Samarca.

On October 13, the National Lawyers Guild, a group of human rights lawyers in the US, called for the immediate pull-out of military and paramilitary forces from indigenous people’s communities in Mindanao and the disbandment of paramilitary forces, which are under the command of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“As the President of the Philippines and Commander-in-Chief of the Philippine Armed Forces, we ask you to dismantle the counterinsurgency program, Oplan Bayanihan, which continues to victimize innocent and unarmed civilians,” wrote Azadeh Shahahani, NLG President, in her letter to Pres. Aquino. [Full statement through this link: https://www.nlg.org/sites/default/files/NLG%20letter%20to%20Aquino%20TM.pdf]

In a letter initiated by the US-based Ecumenical Advocacy Network on the Philippines, 40 leaders of faith-based/ecumenical institutions, human rights advocates, distinguished university professors including Prof. Marjorie Cohn of Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Leitner Prof. Thomas Pogge of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, and Prof. Fionnuala Ni Aolain of University of Minnesota Law School, called on the US authorities to stop US military aid to the Philippines, in the light of the human rights abuses perpetrated under Pres. Aquino’s watch. [Full letter through their Facebook post via https://www.facebook.com/eanphil?ref=br_rs]

The statements are the latest expressions of indignation from human rights advocates in different countries over the escalating human rights violations in the Philippines, particularly the killing of indigenous peoples in Mindanao.

Worldwide actions

Since September, the International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP), through its member organizations, and other international human rights organizations held protest actions in the offices of Philippine embassies; conducted forums, conferences and symbolic protests; put up information booths; and took selfies and groufies and posted pictures online with the hashtag #StopLumadKillings. Concerned organizations from the following countries also wrote letters and statements on the human rights abuses in the Philippines: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Hongkong, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, United Kingdom, and United States. [Photos and more information through this link: http://www.humanrightsphilippines.net/2015/09/worldwide-actions-condemn-criminal-us-aquino-regime/]

An open letter from Vancouver-based organizations said,“Mr. Aquino, as you near the end of your term as President of the Republic of the Philippines, your legacy is tainted by corruption and the blood of innocents.” The letter was signed by the the Alliance for Peoples Health, Grassroots Women, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy, Canada Palestine Association, Kathara Cultural Collective, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network, East Indian Defense Committee, and the Vancouver Solidarity with Ayotzinapa.

Geneva-based Franciscans International, in an oral statement before the 30th Session of the UN Human Rights Council in Switzerland, called on the Philippine authorities to “take immediate action to stop the political killings, harassment and militarization in Surigao del Sur as well as in the whole Mindanao region.” [Full statement through this link: http://www.rmp-nmr.org/articles/2015/09/22/statement-franciscans-international-un-human-rights-council-killing-leaders]

Belgian organizations, especially those that have supported the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), held forums and mobilized people to send out numerous letters calling for justice. Human rights defenders, civil society and social movement leaders from Brazil, India, Indonesia, Guatemala, Germany, Nigeria and South Africa also expressed their support for the call for justice. The United Church of Canada called for the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrators of the killings and other human rights violations in Surigao and other parts of the country.

International organization Frontline Defenders, a Dublin-based organization supporting human rights defenders, urged Philippine authorities to “guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Philippines are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.” [Full statement through this link: https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/node/29504]

Migrante International chapters in Austria, Australia, Hongkong, and Saudi Arabia called for an end to Oplan Bayanihan.

“These organizations also reminded the Philippine government of the views and recommendations during the 2012 UN Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines, especially the call to officially invite the UN Special Rapporteurs on extrajudicial killings, human rights defenders and indigenous peoples,” stated Cristina Palabay, Karapatan Secretary General. ###