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    UNIFIED STATEMENT: Filipino youth in Canada condemn arson attack against Lumad

    The national preparatory committee of Anakbayan in Canada strongly condemn the burning of the Lumad evacuation camp at United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran in Davao City.

    Initial reports reveal that at 2:00 am on February 24th, three unidentified men poured gasoline on the roof of the dormitories and set them on fire. Four of the five Lumad refugees injured include a two-year old and a fourteen year old left with second-degree burns.

    We are deeply disturbed and outraged by this violence, especially considering it targets a vulnerable community taking refuge in an evacuation centre. Our thoughts are with the victims, especially the children, who have been seeking refuge in the church compound and yet to return to the homes they have fled. We may recall in January there were unabashed threats after a lumad child was killed by the paramilitary backed Alamara in Talaingod, Davao del Norte.

    For Toronto resident Divine Montesclaros whose family is from Davao City, learning about the news was really disheartening. “I’m dismayed to see so many of our indigenous brothers and sisters continue to face trauma and difficult conditions that have direct link to the harassment by the military present in their communities.”

    According to the Save Our Schools Network, a network of children’s rights advocates, President Benigno Aquino III’s counterinsurgency program Oplan Bayanihan continues to lead the attack on the Lumad. In its World Report 2016 released in January, Human Rights Watch said there has been “no real progress on justice for serious abuses” committed under Aquino.

    Hessed Torres, of Vancouver connects the indigenous peoples struggle with Canadian Mining corporations and other extractive companies. “We hold accountable our Philippine government together with all extractive companies for the recent deaths and serious injuries on our indigenous people, most especially the innocent children who deserve nothing less than a life with dignity, respect and without fear or chaos.”

    Three months ago, hundreds of Canadians from various institutions and organizations signed on an open letter letter urging the Aquino administration to stop the systematic attacks on Lumad communities.

    This new attack was obviously carried out for a political objective. We must not permit such acts of ethnocidal character to bring in more tragedies and to bury any prospect of peace. There is definitely a need for resolution to the plight of the Lumad that includes an immediate pullout of military troops and their paramilitary cohorts from their ancestral domains and an end to further environmental plunder.

    The fire caused PhP900,000 ($25,800) in damages. We call for international support by way of monetary donations to the indigenous community affected. Funds will be coursed through the Canada chapter International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP-Canada). We appreciate in advance any support and we are confident that solidarity will prevail.

    We continue to enjoin other Filipino youth overseas in strongly denouncing the government’s inaction on the plight of the indigenous peoples in Mindanao. We firmly call for a thorough and prompt investigation on this specific case and previous ones to bring the culprits to justice.

    From Edmonton, Alberta Elena Torres says “We, migrant youth, strongly condemn attacks in our motherland and we will continue to educate, organize and, mobilize fellow youth overseas.”

    Save Our Schools!
    Stop Lumad Killings!
    Uphold Indigenous peoples rights to self-determination!
    End the Militarization of their Communities!

    Signed:

    Migrante Youth Alberta
    Migrante Manitoba
    Migrante Youth Ontario
    Anakbayan-Toronto
    Anakbayan-Montreal
    Kasama-McGill University
    Youth Iglesia Filipina Independiente-Greater Toronto Area Mission (YIFI-GTA)
    Pilipinong Migrante sa Canada, Ottawa
    Ontario Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines
    Pantayo Kulintang Ensemble
    Fuerza/Puwersa Collective, Guelph, Ontario
    HATAW Dance Troupe
    Kapisanan Philippine Centre for Arts & Culture, Toronto
    Filipino Students Association at York University (FSAY)
    Carlos Bulosan Theatre (CBT)
    Kwentong Bayan Collective, Toronto, Ontario
    Southeast Cartel Music
    Kapwa Collective
    PANCIT Art Collective, Vancouver
    Scarborough Campus Students Union, Toronto, Ontario
    Philippine Cultural Community Centre Youth Alliance, Toronto
    Fossil Free Guelph

    RJ Sison, Alberta
    Bong Magpantay, Alberta
    Joey Abrenilla, Ontario
    Jodinand Aguillon, Ontario
    Nicole Cajucom, Toronto
    George Escano, Ontario
    Justin Lima, Ontario
    Sheryl Anne Montano, Toronto
    Dace Anne Montano, Montreal
    Al Donato, Toronto
    Kay de Guzman, Guelph, Ontario
    Albert Lopez, British Columbia
    Monica Batac, Toronto
    Althea Balmes, Toronto
    San Roi Abarquez , Toronto
    Jasfer Blando, Etobicoke
    Matthew Acedera, Toronto
    Khian Mabanag, Toronto
    Ralph Morales, Toronto
    Nicka Angela Silang, Toronto
    Victoria Marie, Toronto
    Jayson Palolan, Montreal
    Alex Felipe, Puerto Princesa, Palawan
    Hessed Torres, British Columbia
    Jessica Kirk, Toronto
    Camille Galindez, Toronto
    Debbie Celis, Toronto

    Reference:
    Rhea A. Gamana
    Preparatory Committee member, Anakbayan in Canada
    Contact: anakbayan.canada@gmail.com

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