Karapatan acknowledged the statement of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Chaloka Beyani on the impact of the military operations of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on the rights of indigenous people in Mindanao, especially those in mining-affected areas in Tampakan, South Cotabato and those who forcibly evacuated to Davao City.
Karapatan Secretary General Cristina Palabay said “Beyani’s initial statement on the extent of possible rights violations by the military on people forced to flee from their homes due to AFP operations and the entry of transnational mining corporations boosts the people’s legitimate demand for the AFP to pull out of the communities.”
“I was alarmed that tribal leaders reported that their communities were consistently being manipulated and divided and that they had been harassed and received threats when they expressed their opposition. Indeed some leaders and members of the indigenous communities have been killed over the past years reportedly due to their anti-mining activities,” Beyani said in his exit statement.
Beyani conducted his official visit from July 21 to 31, 2015. He was able to meet with indigenous peoples in South Cotabato and forced evacuees sheltered at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines-Haran compound in Davao City.
More than 700 indigenous peoples from Talaingod and Kapalong, Davao del Norte and Bukidnon evacuated from their communities due to intensified AFP operations, with the military forcibly recruiting members of the indigenous communities into the paramilitary group Alamara. The military has also encamped in the communities and occupied the self-run schools of the Lumad.
“Displacement, whether due to conflict or development, not only destroys the homes and livelihoods of indigenous peoples, but has an incalculable impact on their cultures and ways of life that are part of the rich and diverse heritage of the Philippines that must be protected or otherwise lost, perhaps forever,” Beyani added.
Palabay said Karapatan will submit additional cases to the UN Special Rapporteur before he finalizes his report to the UN Human Rights Council in June 2016 to emphasize the accountability of the Philippine government in the displacement in Mindanao and several areas in the country through its counter-insurgency program Oplan Bayanihan and also the government’s connivance with mining corporations.
“The inadequacy and criminal accountability of the BS Aquino government’s response to the needs of the typhoon Haiyan-affected communities and its corporate-led and investment-driven rehabilitation plan which will benefit big foreign and local businesses should also be considered as key contexts in the Beyani report,” Palabay added.
Karapatan and its network of human rights activists and representatives of indigenous people’s communities in Talaingod, Davao del Norte met with Beyani during his official visit.
The exit statement of Dr. Beyani can be viewed through the following link: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=16280&LangID=E#sthash.FVU8irKg.dpuf
Cristina “Tinay” Palabay
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties. It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.