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    Mindanao human rights activists fight back against rising Martial Law in Mindanao

    Barug Katungod Mindanao
    (Mindanao Stand for Human Rights)

    About a hundred human rights activists in Mindanao gathered in Cagayan de Oro City today for the Barug Katungod Mindanao Conference as a response to the intensifying military attacks and political repression experienced by fellow human rights defenders in Mindanao.

    Delivering the keynote address were Rep. Neri Colmenares of Bayan Muna Partylist and Rev. Barry Naylor of the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) who presented his address via a video presentation from the United Kingdom.

    Both spoke about the increasing number of victims of extra-judicial killings and massacre of Lumad and their supporters in different parts in Mindanao. Rep. Colmenares delved on the rising political repression under the Aquino administration which is a reminiscent of his experience during the years of Martial Law. Rev. Naylor, on the other hand,  expressed alarm about the rising death toll in Mindanao and the continuing state of impunity due to government’s inaction of the cases filed.

    With the theme, “Strengthening and Broadening the People’s Movement for Human Rights against the Intensifying State of Impunity in Mindanao,” the conference aims to establish a broad Mindanao-wide human rights network of lawyers, churchpeople, academics, youth and students, women, child rights advocates, Lumad rights workers, Moro human rights workers, health professionals, journalists, and other human rights workers and defenders.

    Barug Katungod Mindanao is also a response of human rights defenders and the people of Mindanao to demand justice from the Aquino government and resist its internal security doctrine Oplan Bayanihan which has claimed the lives of more than 60 indigenous, peasant, and environmental defenders by elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and paramilitary forces.

    The human rights defenders gathering also complements with the weeklong protest rallies for the burial and wake of EMIRITO SAMARCA, executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV), DIONEL CAMPOS, chairman of the Malahutayong Pakigbisog Alang Sa Sumusunod or MAPASU, and his cousin Juvello Sinzo who were killed by soldiers of the 36th Infantry Battalion – Philippine Army (IBPA), the 75th IBPA, AFP 1st Special Forces and their armed paramilitary group who identified themselves as comprising the Mahagat/Bagani group  on September 1 at Bgy. Diatagon, Liangga, Surigao del Sur.

    Barug Katungod Mindanao notes the staggering statistics of human rights violations in Mindanao:  87 alternative Lumad schools are under various forms of military attacks, around 40,000 persons have been displaced due to militarization and terror by more than 20 government-backed paramilitary groups including the Mahagat/Bagani and Alamara groups, and more than 250 activists and community leaders facing false criminal charges as a form of political repression to the rising people’s movement in Mindanao.

    Reference:
    Sr. Noemi Degala, SMSM
    Mobile No.: +639204563802

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