Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Filipino People Are Under Attack from Washington -- and Their Own Government (The Huffington Post)

WHAT ARE LUMADS?
Meaning “born of the earth”,  Lumad is the term coined by indigenous peoples and their advocates in the late 1970s, according to the 1993 book “Ethnocide: Is it real?” published by the Media Mindanao News Service. It basically signifies the Lumads as the original inhabitants of Mindanao. Lumads are said to be composed of 17 entholinguistic groups, all found in southern Philippines.


A tribunal this year uncovered grave violations against the human, economic, and cultural rights of Filipinos by Washington and their own leaders.

By Vanessa Lucas and Azadeh Shahshahani

The Filipino people are under attack.

The Lumad, for example -- an indigenous group in the southern Philippines -- are being forced to leave their ancestral lands and the source of their livelihood to make way for mining operations and land conversion. Resistance is deadly.

In the month of August alone, there were two massacres that left nine dead. On August 30, the army and paramilitary forces occupied the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development, an award winning school for indigenous youth. The director of the school, Emerito Samarca, was taken by force and was found dead in a classroom the next day. He had an ear-to-ear slit across his throat and gunshot wounds in his chest.


The same day Samarca's body was found, Dionel Campos -- the chairman of a Lumad organization campaigning against mining -- and his cousin Datu Juvillo Sinzo were executed in front of hundreds of residents in Lianga. Sinzo, who was separated from the crowd, was tortured by paramilitaries. They smashed his arms and legs with a wooden stick before shooting him.

Karapatan, a Filipino human rights organization, has raised the issue of the Lumad peoples at the United Nations Human Rights Council. But given the culture of impunity in the Philippines -- often exacerbated by implicit support from the U.S. government -- activists are pursuing other means to hold the perpetrators of crimes like these to account.

To help give voice to the victims of human rights violations, for three intense days this summer we participated in the International People's Tribunal on Crimes Against the Filipino People. The tribunal was convened in Washington by human rights defenders, peace and justice advocates, lawyers, jurists, academics, people of faith, and political activists. It was held at the behest of victims of human rights violations to shine a spotlight on official crimes and hold the responsible governments accountable.


Evidence supporting the allegations of rights abuses -- including testimony from over 30 lay and expert witnesses -- was provided to an international panel of prosecutors led by former U.S. attorney general Ramsey Clark and considered by an international group of jurors from a range of disciplines. The tribunal found the Aquino regime responsible for systematic violations of the civil, political, economic, social, and cultural rights of the Filipino people. The conveners also held the U.S. government responsible on account of its military intervention, economic and environmental exploitation, and imposition of neoliberal globalization on the Philippines.

Here's what we learned.

Violations of Civil and Political Rights

The first group of charges focused on gross violations of civil and political rights, including extrajudicial killings, disappearances, massacres, torture, and arbitrary arrests and detention, as well as other brutal and systematic attacks on the basic democratic rights of the Filipino people.

A key driver of the most egregious abuses has been the U.S.-inspired counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan. Launched in 2011 by Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, it's supposedly a program to fight communist guerillas, but in practice doesn't distinguish between civilians and combatants. The reality is that Oplan Bayanihan is used to target any individuals or groups the government classifies as a threat to its agenda.


Amaryllis Hilao Enriquez, a former Marcos-era political prisoner, described Oplan Bayanihan as a "repackaging" of the U.S.-led "war on terror" for the Philippines. The operation was devised with the help of the U.S. government, which provides technical assistance, military aid, and occasionally actual U.S. military personnel. 

Read full story on The Huffington Post

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