The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) calls on the international community to urgently condemn the February 23 arson attack on displaced Lumad people sheltering in a church compound in Davao City.
The gasoline driven fires were set in two different parts of the church compound at about 2.30am, injuring five people, four of them children. Two children and one adult had to be treated in hospital.
Seven hundred Manobo from Talaingod and Kapalong towns in Davao del Norte and Bukidnon Provinces has been living at the Haran Misson House of the United Church of Christ in the Philippines since early 2015, when they had to flee their ancestral domain after soldiers and military-based militia occupied their communities and their community-built schools.
In late July 2015 the police and the Cotabato Congress Representative Nancy Catamco tried to evict the Lumads from the Haran Misson, but the people refused to leave while the military continued to occupy their lands. Catamco accused the people of being fake refugees, manipulated or trafficked by front groups for communist rebels.
Then in August 2015, the military attempted to use a briefing by the visiting United Nations special rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, Chaloka Beyani, to help prove its accusations against the /lumad/refugees and their supporters. But Beyani rebuked the military and affirmed that the people had fled in fear of the military and their militias.
“The February 23 arson attack on Haran Misson is a continuation of the persecution of these Lumad communities,” said Canon Barry Naylor, Chairperson of the ICHRP. “It could have been deadly, and was intended to crush the voice of these indigenous communities who are trying to maintain their lands and culture against land grabbing resource corporations.“
This incident is part of a bigger picture of state violence against the Lumads and it is high time that the international community tore away the façade of respectability on which the Philippines government continues to trade in the global community,” said Canon Naylor.
“The ICHRP extends its support to the 700 brave refugees at Haran Misson and also to the 4,000 Lumad in Surigao del Sur who fled to the sports center in Tandag City following the September 1, 2015, murders in Lianga town of school administrator Emerito Samarca and Manobo leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Bello Sinzo by the Magahat militia,” concluded Canon Naylor.
Canon Barry Naylor
Chairperson, Global Council, ICHRP
Mobile: +44 (0) 775 785 3621
General Secretary, Global Council, ICHRP
Mobile: +61 418312301