Philippines: Respect Freedom of Expression and Movement; Stop the Harassment of Indigenous Peoples Human Rights Defenders

Statement of Solidarity of Indigenous Organisations and Participants of the “Asia Preparatory Meeting on UN Mechanisms and Procedures Relating to Indigenous Peoples”

March 3, 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

Name of Organizations:

  1. Adivasi Mahila Maha Sabha (AMMS), Chhattisgarh
  2. Ashray/Inter State Adivasi Women’s Network (ISAWN), Jharkhand
  3. Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP)
  4. Asia Youth Indigenous Peoples Net work (AYIPN)
  5. Asian Indigenous Women Network (AIWN)
  6. Association for Taiwan Indigenous Peoples’ Policies
  7. BIPHRO
  8. BPAN
  9. Cambodia Indigenous Peoples Organisation
  10. Center for Sustainable Development in Mountainous Areas – CSDM
  11. Chin Human Rights Organization (CHRO)
  12. Commissioner Tuenjai Deetes, National HR Commission Thailand (representative of Southeast Asia NHRI Forum)
  13. Confederation of Lumad Organizations (PASAKA-SMR)
  14. Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA)
  15. Edtami Mansayagan, member of Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (EMRIP)
  16. Ekachai Pinkaew, National HR Commission Thailand
  17. Global Association for People and the Environment (GAPE)
  18. Hill Women’s Federation
  19. Hmong Clan Network in Thailand and Hmong Association
  20. Indigenous Peoples’ International Centre for Policy Research and Education (TEBTEBBA)
  21. Indigenous Women Forum of North East India (IWFNEI)
  22. International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA)
  23. Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)
  24. Jharkhand Indigenous And Tribal Peoples For Action Jitpa
  25. Jharkhandi Organization for Human Rights (JOHAR), Jharkhand
  26. Kapaeeng Foundation
  27. Karbi Human Rights Watch (KHRW)
  28. Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP)
  29. Lok Sangharsh Morcha
  30. Loyola College of Social Science, Trivendram, Kerala
  31. MALEYA Foundation
  32. Myanmar Indigenous Peoples/ Ethnic Nationalities Network (IPs/EN)
  33. Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR)
  34. Naga Women Union
  35. National Indigenous Women’s Federation (NIWF)
  36. Nepal Indigenous Disabled Association (NIDA)
  37. NGO Forum Cambodia
  38. PACOS Trust
  39. Papora Indigenous Development Association (PIDA)
  40. People Organization of G6 Mangrove defender
  41. Perempuan AMAN
  42. Pratheep Mekatitam, National HR Commission Thailand
  43. Promotion Of Indigenous & Nature Together (POINT)
  44. Rakhine Ethnics Congress
  45. Samagra Vikas/Inter State Adivasi Women’s Network (ISAWN), Odisha
  46. Shiraoi Ainu Museum
  47. Thao Culture Development Association
  48. UMEED
  49. Women Resource Network (WRN)
  50. Youth Federation of Indigenous Nationalities (YFIN)
  51. Zo Indigenous Forum

Click here to download full statement.

This statement is one of the three statements from the 2018 Asia Preparatory Meeting in Bubaneswar, India from 28 February to 3 March 2018.  Read the other two:

  1. Bangladesh: Uphold the Rule of Law and End the Impunity of Security Forces
  2. Letter to Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi
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