Australians are rightly concerned that their government is committing Special Forces to the Philippines, allegedly as advisors or trainers, in a reaction to the fighting in Marawi City. Independent and Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN) is an anti-war organisation of over 60 organisations, which has grown in the last four years in response to the positioning of a US Marine Combat Regiment and associated air forces in Darwin. IPAN held its second national conference in Melbourne on September 8-10 and called on the Australian government to abandon its support for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) which has abjectly failed to uphold human rights, and instead, put all its efforts into programs to promote peace and justice in the Philippines and to directly sponsor the peace talks to promote genuine peace and lasting prosperity for the people.
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Whereas, a vibrant, inclusive and just social order where human rights and dignity are respected is the best defence against all forms of terrorism employing violence and fear to cower a people; and
Whereas, true peace based on justice can only be realised through building up a just society and not by the way of violence, war and terror; and
Whereas, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has promoted extra-judicial killings, violence, and direct attacks on human rights and the defenders of a justice, continuing a bloody heritage of Philippine Presidents and traditional clan based politicians; and
Whereas, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) have over the decades used violence and fear to attack human rights and communities promoting justice and genuine development; and
Whereas, vast amounts of Australian military aid, and training of Philippine military and police have only increased the violent and anti-democratic nature of the AFP and PNP, and
Whereas, Australian assistance and cooperation should be non-military and directed towards building up just and inclusive societies respecting the rule of law and human dignity as the best answer to hate, terror and conflict;
WE, the participants of the IPAN National Conference, 8 – 10 September 2017 in Melbourne, affirm our commitment to justice and peace in the Philippines over violence, hatred and war, and call on the Australian government to
- Transform all military aid and training to development assistance directed to promoting peace based on justice;
- Condemn the violence and injustice of the Duterte regime’s so-called war on drugs which is a war on the poor;
- Condemn the Duterte government’s militarisation of rural communities and the counter-insurgency program which target activists, human rights advocates and indigenous Filipinos for various forms of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings;
- Support non-government organisations in the Philippines confronting all forms of terror and violence through their vision of a just society where opportunity and the national wealth is shared fairly; and
- Act as a good-faith collaborator in promoting genuine peace talks in the Philippines to find solutions to the basic problems on the ground as the basis of genuine, and lasting peace and prosperity.