End the Impunity of Paramilitary Groups and Bring Justice to the Lumad Killings

 

Solidarity Statement of the Asia Indigenous Peoples' Pact to the 'Interfaith Solidarity Mission in Defense of Indigenous Communities Fighting Impunity (II)'

22 September 2016, Bangkok, Thailand

 

Unless the Philippine state addresses the political structure that enables the military and paramilitary groups to rule with impunity, the killings and harassment of the Lumad in Mindanao in the southern part of the country, will continue, endangering the future and survival of the indigenous communities.

The Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) extends its solidarity to the struggles of the Lumad to obtain justice from the flagrant crimes, maltreatment and human and collective rights violations committed by para-military and military forces. We strongly condemn the senseless killing of an indigenous pregnant woman and the terrorizing of entire communities on 30 July 2016. Their flight to the capital city of Malaybalay in Bukidnon out of fear and as protest over their situation is a dire move that the government should immediately address.

AIPP extends its support to the Interfaith Solidarity Mission in wanting to look into the circumstances and to gather facts behind the freedom of Aldy ‘Butsoy’ Salusad and his paramilitary group and their blatant execution and incessant intimidation of the Lumad without fear of legal repercussion. His audacity to publicly murder the indigenous leader, Jimmy Liguyon, in 2012 and the recent indiscriminate shooting at an innocent crowd in broad daylight is beyond deplorable; not to mention that he is a partner of a government programme under the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Education and the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples. A comprehensive investigation and prosecution is decisively needed to make those involved in these cases accountable and to prevent further attacks on the Lumad.

We also support the Mission’s goal of getting wider public attention to the plight of Mindanao’s indigenous people and to immediately provide the families camped in the provincial capitol the security they need and deserve. In particular, the women and children who suffer and are vulnerable to threats of sexual violence need immediate support and protection. They should also be given sufficient food assistance and proper health care while waiting for assurance of a safe return to their communities.

Nobody deserves to live in fear and be deprived of basic social services, or to have a future that is denied of justice. The Philippine government should address the immediate needs of the indigenous families who fled their homes for survival and safety. Their long standing demand for justice to the relentless aggression should be urgently addressed. We call on President Rodrigo Duterte to demonstrate his claim of support to the Lumad by taking immediate action to dismantle paramilitary forces and in upholding the rights of the Lumad to live in peace and security in their indigenous territories.

AIPP shall continue to work with the Lumad and their supporters to pursue our common aspiration to achieve peace, justice and respect for human and collective rights.