Dear friends, activists and advocates,
Our apologies for cross-posting.
The IPMSDL International Coordinating Committee recently approved a statement entitled “A Chance for Change.” The statements talks about the peace process between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). The civil war in the Philippines has resulted in the death of over 40,000 individuals since 1968. This death toll includes thousands of indigenous peoples in the country. Hundreds of thousands more have been forced to flee their homes time and again due to this war.
We believe the peace process, which the new Philippine president Duterte has vowed will include indigenous peoples, will give our brothers and sisters in the Philippines breathing space and, should a peace agreement be reached, will be beneficial to Indigenous and non-indigenous Peoples alike in the country.
We encourage everyone to read this statement. If you agree with what it says, please endorse the statement by emailing back to us. Please send your endorsements on or before July 21, 8am Manila time.
Please be so kind as to disseminate widely to your networks. Looking forward to your favorable response. Thanks and more power.
Note: For those who will forward this statement, please ensure that the response will get back to us at IPMSDL so we can include their names on the list of those endorsing the statement. Thanks.
A Chance for Peace: Supporting the Opportunity for a Just and Lasting Peace in the Philippines
All over the world Indigenous Peoples continue to face oppression and exploitation by uncaring governments and self-serving corporations. We are still one of the most marginalized sectors in society. States and big businesses continue to deny our right to self determination, our collective rights as peoples, our right to land, our very right to life. Wars of aggression, counter-insurgency and militarization displace us from our homes. Environmentally destructive activities such as large-scale mining, mono-crop plantations and their resultant disasters threaten our very existence.
Our sisters and brothers from the Philippines face the same threats day in and day out. The Philippine government’s neoliberal economic and pro-big business policies have negatively affected the lives of Indigenous Peoples in the country, fueling more resistance to extractive and energy industry projects. This resistance, in turn, has been met head-on by the Philippine government with increased militarization of Indigenous Peoples communities, thereby maintaining a vicious cycle of human rights abuses and murders that continue to plague the lives of Indigenous Peoples every single day.
For so-called “peace and development”, over 80 Indigenous Peoples have been victims of extrajudicial killings perpetrated by the Philippine military and its para-military groups and 30,000 have been forced to leave their homes due to militarization. Sexual assault and rape of indigenous women by military personnel have gone unpunished. 2000 indigenous youth have been forced to leave school due to government closure of indigenous schools. Military forces encamp in indigenous communities on an almost daily basis. Trumped up charges have been filed against hundreds of indigenous activists and their advocates. These abuses were done in the name of an anti-insurgency campaign, a campaign of red-tagging and anti-communist paranoia that delegitimizes the validity of Filipino Indigenous Peoples’ struggles for their right to self determination, to land, to life.
It is with glad hearts, then, that we welcome the statement of the Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte to include our sister and brother Indigenous Peoples in the peace process between the Government of the Philippines (GRP) and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP). Duterte, in his inaugural speech, stated that he looks “forward to the participation of all other stakeholders, particularly our indigenous peoples, to ensure inclusivity in the peace process.” An agreement for a just and lasting peace will give Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines the chance to attain what has been denied them by the previous administrations in the country.
We hope the resumption of the peace talks will lead to a lessening and eventual disappearance of violations of civil and political rights of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines. We also hope that an agreement on economic, social and cultural rights be signed and the rights to self determination, land and life of Indigenous Peoples be upheld therein.
We are optimistic. We believe this peace process has a chance to work. But we also believe that others with vested interests will derail this peace process in order to deny not only Indigenous Peoples but also others their rights, Thus our optimism is also coupled with watchfulness to ensure that the derailment of the Philippine peace process will not come to pass.
This peace process and the possible resulting peace agreement present a possibility of providing a template for future work of other Indigenous Peoples in other parts of the world. We believe this possibility should not be wasted.
We enjoin our sisters and brothers in the Philippines to be vigilant in militantly asserting their collective rights to self-determination, as well as continue to support the rights of non-indigenous peoples as well. We must continue to assert and claim these rights, and strive to to organize and educate more individuals and organizations on people’s issues. We call on all Indigenous Peoples and advocates of Indigenous Peoples rights all over the globe to support the peace process in the Philippines.
Let us join hands and continue to assert our right to self determination and break the chains of oppression all over the world.
Atama Katama, Borneo Dayak Forum, Sabah
Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator, International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
Casey Box, Land is Life, United States of America
Catherine Eatock, Aboriginal Rights Coalition (ARC), Australia
Celestine Nkabari Akpobari, Ogoni Solidarity Forum, Nigeria
India Reed Bowers, International Organization for Self Determination and Equality (IOSDE), France
Jiten Yumnam, Center for Research and Advocacy Manipur (CRAM), Manipur
Leonard Imbiri, Dewan Adat Papua, West Papua
Marcus Terena, Inter-Tribal Committee, Brazil
Norma Maldonado, Asociacion Raxch’ och’ Oxlaju Aj (AROAJ), Guatemala
Piya Malayao, KATRIBU Kalipunan ng mga Katutubong Mamamayan ng Pilipinas (KATRIBU), Philippines
Rukka Sombolinggi, Alliance of indigenous Peoples in the Archipelago (AMAN), Indonesia
Saro Legbrosi Pyagbara, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Nigeria
Windel Bolinget, Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), Philippines
International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)
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