Strongly Condemn Another “Lianga Massacre”
June 16, 2021
The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation strongly condemns the murder of three indigenous Lumad by the Philippine Army today in Lianga town, Surigao del Sur in Mindanao, Philippines.
Angel Rivas, a Grade 6 student of Lumad school Tribal Filipino Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS), and Willy Rodriguez and Lenie Rivas, members of Lumad organization Malahutayong Pakigbisog alang sa Sumusunod (MAPASU/ Continuing Struggle for the Next Generation), were killed after the 3rd Special Battalion Force of the Philippine Army indiscriminately fired around 1 p.m. on June 15.
Together with some Lumad farmers, the victims asked permission from the military to harvest their abaca hemp, yet the military indiscriminately fired, murdering the victims. The murdered bodies were then purportedly presented by the army as members of armed insurgents New People’s Army (NPA). Here, clear violations by the army of International Humanitarian Law (IHL) for the protection of civilians and non-combatants, humane treatment and respect of civilian lives without discrimination must be probed. More so, indiscriminate firing within civilian communities, especially Indigenous villages, violates IHL on weapons and tactics that are by nature indiscriminate.
Philippine Army troops have been encamping in the Lumad communities in Lianga for several months amid strong opposition and the army’s grave violation of Free, Prior, Informed Consent of the community. In Lianga and other IP communities, military encampments in IP communities continue and result to various forms of human rights violations such as rape, mass evacuations, red-tagging and murder.
On September 1, 2015, three Lumad leaders and Lumad school pioneers Dionel “Onel” Campos, Aurello “Bello” Sinzo and Emerito “Emok” Samarca were massacred by Philippine Army-trained paramilitaries. Again, on January 24, 2019, two Lumad-Manobo abaca farmers Randel Gallego and Emel Tejero were killed by the Philippine Army accusing them of being combatant NPA rebels. Around 140 activists and Lumad land and rights defenders have been killed since President Duterte came to power, including Campos and others.
This recent wave of Lumad killings comes in time when the International Criminal Court (ICC) decided to investigate the thousands of victims of the government’s extrajudicial killings. This “policy of killings” by the Duterte regime underscores the long-standing spiralling rights violations towards Indigenous Peoples and Lumad that has long been condemned by the international community.
We urge everyone to amplify the urgent and crucial call to hold the Duterte government, the Philippine military and state forces accountable for its murderous actions and policies with impunity, and support all efforts for an independent, international investigation.
We call all Indigenous groups and advocates, rights defenders, activists and the international community to lend their voice and call for justice for Angel, Willy, Lenie and all the victims before another life is lost.
Such precarious times demand our stronger solidarity and urgent actions. These times demand that we decisively stand for justice and topple all authoritarian and fascist regimes that continue to trample on our rights, oppress and kill our people.
Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator