Brussels, 10 December. Human rights platform Stop the Killings today awarded the Lumad organizations of Mindanao with the Human Rights Prize.
The Lumad, indigenous peoples of southern Philippines, pay a high price for asserting their right to self-determination, and for fighting against international mining and agricultural businesses operating in their communities. Several among the Lumad have already been killed by the security agents of the Manila government, local schools are forcibly closed down, and thousands of families are forced to evacuate as a result of military harassment and occupation of their communities.
The award was received by Percenita “Daday” Sanchez, of the Mindanao Interfaith Services Foundation. This organization has helped the indigenous communities in establishing 19 local schools.
In accepting the award, Ms. Sanchez thanked the Stop the Killings platform and the more than 1000 people who voted for the Lumad for their warm concern and support. In solidarity with the other oppressed peoples of the world, she shared the honor with the other nominees – the Workers Committee of the municipality of Palmeras from Colombia, the Peruvian activist Maxima Acuña the Chaupe and the Association of Mayan Attorneys from Guatemala.
The urgency of the Lumad peoples’ situation was recently highlighted by the UN rapporteur for the rights of internally displaced persons, Dr. Chaloka Beyani. In his report, he asked for special protection of the Lumad since their culture as well as their income are both endangered.
Stop the Killings is an action platform of trade unions and social organizations. Through action and information, they want to oppose the repression of unionists and activists in the South. The Lumad were nominated by Solidagro and 11.11.11, which both work with the Lumad to make sure they are better able to defend their rights.
It was the third time that the Human Rights Prize was awarded.