Human rights victims, advocates, indigenous people, peasants, workers, church people, women and children are among the 300 participants who are now travelling to Manila in a month-long human rights campaign dubbed as ManiLakbayan ng Mindanao 2014. The group’s activities will culminate in Metro Manila on December 10, International Human Right Day.
With the theme, “Food and Peace in MindaNOW!”, the campaign aims to call the public’s attention to the human rights situation in Mindanao amidst escalating military operations since the first quarter of 2014.
There are 55 AFP battalions deployed in Mindanao supposedly to combat the insurgency problem. The troops double as Investment Defense Force (IDF) that serve foreign and large-scale companies, especially mining, that plunder the resources and destroy the environment.
The massive militarization in Mindanao resulted in gross violations of human rights and international humanitarian. These are concretely manifested in increasing incidetns of extrajudicial killings, illegal arrests with trumped-up charges against activists, military encampments in communities and schools, forcible evacuation, aerial bombings and other forms of violations.
To date, there are more than 500 leaders and members of progressive people’s organizations who are face trumped up criminal charges to prevent them from speaking out against plunder and repression.
There are already more than eight incidents of forcible evacuation in 19 Lumad communities in 2014 alone. This has affected more than 700 families or some 2,900 women, men and children.
The AFP’s combat operations include aerial bombings, artillery bombardments and strafing of homes and farms. The operations displaced thousands and killed innocent civilians.
Lumad schools are red tagged and are used for military encampments. Parents, teachers and students are harassed.
The other Manilakbayan contingent from Northern and Western Mindanao is set to converge in Surigao City where, a presscon will be held. From Surigao, the group proceeds to Tacloban, Leyte for a “Salubong” before going to Allen, Samar.
The Manilakbayan travels to the Bicol region, where a solidarity activity is set in Naga City and then proceeds to the Quezon Province where more solidarity activities await them. A ‘kampohan’ will be held in Manila from November 22 to December 8. The activities lined up in Metro Manila include mobilizations and representation in various government offices such as the Department of Education, Department of Justice, House of Representatives and the Senate. Manilakbayan also joins the rally in Mendiola on December 10 for the International Human Rights Day.