• HUMAN RIGHTS

    Canadians write to BS Aquino: Stop the attacks on Lumad

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    [The following open letter to President B S Aquino was sent through Karapatan. The full title of the open letter is “Stop the Systematic Attacks on Indigenous Peoples in Mindanao.”]

    Dear President Aquino,
    We, the undersigned individuals and organizations in Canada, are writing to express our urgent concerns regarding the violent attacks on Indigenous Peoples (Lumads) in Mindanao allegedly perpetrated by members of the Philippine Armed Forces and by paramilitary groups that are reportedly created and armed by the military and operating under its command. Human Rights Watch reports that “these forces are committing killings, torture, forced displacement and harassment of residents, students and educators with impunity.”

    We are deeply alarmed by the systematic escalation of the campaign of attack on Lumads in recent months. Of the 58 victims of Lumad killings since 2010, 14 of the victims including Lumad children were killed from March–September 2015. Eleven of the victims were killed in 3 gruesome massacres.

    • On June 14, 2015, three Lumad leaders in Paquibato, Davao were reportedly killed when military troops strafed the residence of the leader of a local farmers’ association.

    • On August 18th 2015, five members of the Manobo tribe, including a 70-year-old blind farmer and 2 children were massacred in Pangantucan, Bukidnon by the 3rd Company of the 1st Special Batallion of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

    • On September 1, 2015, members of a paramilitary group called Magahat allegedly killed Emerito Samarca, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development, Inc.(ALCADEV) and two Lumads, and threatened to massacre the entire community causing the people to flee their community.

    We strongly condemn the use of local paramilitary groups to sow terror among their own people resulting in mass displacement and evacuation of approximately 40,000 Lumads.

    The Rural Missionaries of the Philippines and the Sisters Association of Mindanao maintain that the attack on ALCADEV was not an isolated incident. Since April of 2014, 25 Lumad schools have been forced to halt operations due to military harassment and on the orders of the Department of Education. At least 84 separate attacks on 57 schools have displaced and disrupted the education of over 3,000 Lumad children. We strongly condemn this grave violation of children’s right to education.

    As Canadians, we are concerned by reports that the Philippine government is sanctioning these military operations under its counter-insurgency program, Operation Plan Bayanihan, in order to suppress the resistance of Indigenous communities and clear the way for the entry of mining and other resource extraction companies. We are deeply troubled to learn that Canadian companies are among those having mining exploration or applications in these Lumad villages now under severe military and paramilitary attacks.

    We support the rights of Lumad Peoples to struggle for social justice and self-determination within their ancestral territories, as embodied in the UN declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. We support their struggle to defend their ancestral lands. We call on the Philippine government to respect the Lumads’ right to determine their own path to prosperity and to resist development plans on their land they believe will not benefit their communities.

    We support the call of the indigenous peoples of Mindanao for the termination of the counter-insurgency program that justifies the systematic attacks on Indigenous Peoples.

    We call on you as the President to order the immediate pull out of military troops from Lumad territories, to dismantle the paramilitary groups, to end the militarization of Lumad schools, to prosecute and convict the perpetrators of the killings as well as those in the chain of command, and to indemnify the victims of these atrocities.

    Furthermore, we support the call of the Filipino people for the resumption of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines in order to bring peace to these communities.

    Signed:

    Perry Bellegarde, National Chief, Assembly of First Nations

    Phil Fontaine, former National Chief, Assembly of First Nations & Officer of the Order of Canada

    Matthew Coon Come, Grand Chief, Grand Council of the Crees and former National Chief Assembly of First Nations Hon. Hon. Florfina Marcelino, Member of the Legislative Assembly of Manitoba

    Hon. Mable Elmore, Member of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia

    The Very Rev. the Honourable Lois M Wilson, Senator (retired) Companion of Order of Canada

    The Rt. Rev. Mark MacDonald, National Indigenous Anglican Bishop

    The Right Rev. Jordan Cantwell, Moderator, The United Church of Canada

    Paul Moist, National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees

    Mike Palecek, National President, Canadian Union of Postal Workers

    Emmanuelle Tremblay, National President, Canadian Association of Professional Employees

    James Clancy, National President, National Union of Public and General Employees

    Paul Meinema, National President, United Food and Commercial Workers Union

    Robyn Benson, National President, Public Service Alliance of Canada

    Very Rev. Terry Brown, Bishop-in-charge, Church of the Ascension, Hamilton, Ont.

    Thomas Saras, President and CEO, National Ethnic Press and Media Council of Canada

    Jim Manly, Member of Parliament (1980-1988)

    Dr. Catherine Coumans, Asia Coordinator, Mining Watch

    Monia Mazigh, Director, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group

    Jennifer Henry, Executive Director, KAIROS, Canadian Churches

    Ecumenical Justice Initiative

    Alan Quinn, Director of Intl. Programs, Leger Foundation

    Jess Agustin, Asia program officer, Catholic Organization for Development and Peace

    Mary Boyd, Director, MacKillop Centre for Social Justice

    Meeka Otway, Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada

    Atty. Tim Louis, Co-Chair, Coalition of Progressive Electors

    Atty. Michael Leitold, Steering Committee, Law Union of Ontario

    Dr. Philip Kelly, Director, York Centre of Asian Studies, York University

    Dr. Geraldine Pratt, Associate Dean, Dept. of Sociology, University of British Columbia

    Dr. Dominique Caouette, Centre d’études de l’Asie de l’Est, Université de Montréal

    Dr. Jill Hanley, Graduate Program Director, Dept. of Social Work, McGill University

    Dr. Chin Banerjee, Coordinator, South Asian Network for Secularism and Democracy

    Rev. Jonathan Schmidt, Director, Canadian Churches Forum for Global Ministries

    Kelly Moist, 2nd National President, Canadian Union of Public Employees

    Dave Bleakney, 2nd National Vice-President Canadian Union of Postal Workers

    Zenee May Maceda, National Representative, United Food and Commercial Workers Union

    Atty. Charlotte Kates, Coordinator, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners Solidarity Network

    Aiyanas Ormond, Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle in Canada

    Bern Jagunos, Coordinator, International Coalition on Human Rights in the Philippines Canada

    Teresa Agustin, Chair, Migrante Canada

    Rhea Gamana, General Secretary, Anakbayan Canada

    Dr. Chandu Claver, Chair, BAYAN Canada

    Pura Velasco, Chair, Caregivers Action Centre

    Hermie Garcia and Mila Astorga-Garcia, Publishers & co-editors, The Philippine Reporter

    Edwin Mercurio, President, Negrense Asociacion

    Jessie W. Tuldague- President, Ifugao Association of Canada

    Ben Corpuz, Vice President, Philippine Independence Day Council

    Petronila Cleto, Chair, GABRIELA Ontario

    Ace Montevirgen, President, CaSaMa-Zambales association

    Hanna Kawas, Chairperson, Canada Palestine Association

    Bert Monterona – International muralist

    Irene Landry, Education consultant

    Dr. Ravi Pendakur, Professor, Graduate School of Public and Intèl.Affairs, University of Ottawa

    Dr. Rebecca Schein, Academic Supervisor Human Rights at Carleton University

    Dr. Denise L. Spitzer, Professor, Institute of Feminist and Gender Studies, Université d’Ottawa

    Camilla Gibb, Professor in Social Justice, Victoria College, University of Toronto

    Dr. Stephen Collis – Poet and Professor,, Simon Fraser University

    Dr. Valerie Raoul – Professor Emerita, Women’s Studies, University of British Columbia

    Dr. Leonora Angeles – Associate Professor, Women’s and Gender Studies University of British Columbia

    Dr. Rupa Banerjee, GATES Research Team, Ryerson University

    Dr. Suzan Ilcan, Department Of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo, Canada

    Dr. Daniel O’Connor, Department Of Sociology and Legal Studies, University of Waterloo, Canada

    Dr. Robert Diaz, Associate Professor, Ontario College of Art and Design University

    Dr. Brian McDougall – Instructor, Carleton University

    Bill Skidmore, Academic Advisor Human Rights Program, Carleton University

    Dr. Jorge Frozzini, Professeur,Université du Québec à Chicoutimi

    Dr. Aziz Choudry, Associate Professor, Dep’t Integrated Studies in Education, McGill University

    Dr. Mélanie Dufour-Poirier, Professeure adjointe, Université de Montréal

    Dr. Donald Swartz, Carleton School of Public Policy and Administration (Retired)

    Rev. Shaun Fryday, Coordinator – Beaconsfield Initiative, United Church of Canada

    Rev. Keith Simmonds, President, British Columbia Conference United Church of Canada

    Rev. Rosemary Lambie, General Secretary, Montreal Ottawa Conference, United Church of Canada

    Alden Habacon, Director, Intercultural Understanding, Equity and Inclusion, Univ. of British Columbia

    Rev. Patricia Lissom, Director, St. Columba House

    Rev. Desmond Jagger-Parsons, Head of delegation, 2014 Canadian Churches Philippine Learning Tour

    Janet Gray -Regional Coordinator, KAIROS (BC-Yukon)

    Janet McIntosh, Coordinator, KAIROS Metro Vancouver

    Charles Boylan, Chair, International Solidarity Committee Local 21, Fed. of Post- Secondary Educators

    Kate Murray, Moderator, Mining Justice Alliance, Vancouver

    Martha Roberts, RM- Chairperson, Alliance for People’s Health

    Santiago Escobar, Chair, Hugo Chavez Peoples’ Defense Front

    Ysabel Tuason, Ontario Public Interest Research Group, Peterborough, ON

    Parvin Ashfari, Coordinator, Iranian Centre for Peace, Freedom and Justice

    Gloria Pavez, Coordinator, Cafe Rebelde Collective

    Suzanne Baustad, Founding member, Grassroots Women

    Atty. Charlotte Kates, Coordinator, Samidoun Palestinian Prisoners

    Paco Tejero, Founding member, Canada Philippines Solidarity Committee

    Catherine Hooper, C.M, OLPH Church Social Justice Committee, Chateauguay

    Paulina Corpuz, President , Philippine Advancement Through Arts and Culture

    Nicole Cajucom, Executive Director, Kapisanan Philippine Centre

    Rev. Dante Coloma, Philippine Independent Church- Mission of Holy Child-Greater Toronto Area

    Honorio Guerrero, Director, Kathara Indigenous Pilipino Arts Collective Society

    Dr. Alexandra Law, Board Member, Immigrant Workers Centre

    Dr. Eric Shragge, Principal (retired), Community and Public Affairs, Concordia University

    Dr. Martin Gallié, Professor of Law, Université du Québec à Montréal

    Cora Santiago Aberin, President, Filipino Association of Montreal and Suburbs (FAMAS)

    Fiel Salazar, Chairperson, PINAY – Filipino Women’s Organization of Quebec

    Attorney Me Walter Chiyan Tom, Pinay Legal information Clinic

    Kat Estacio, Coordinator, Pantayo Collective

    Fr. Expedito Farinas – Rector, St. Mary (Anglican) Church Hill

    Jojo Geronimo, member, ACLA (Asian Canadian Labour Alliance)

    Sahar Golshan, member, Canadian Roots Exchange

    Jennifer Noonan, Cree-Irish, Portland, OR

    Rev. Irene Ty and Lee Holland

    Attorney May Chiu

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