The Struggle for Peoples' Rights: Land, Food and Justice in Kidapawan
photo courtesy of Mindanews and Toto Lozano
On International Human Rights Day, IBON International expresses its solidarity with the peoples of the world, especially the marginalized, that continue to assert their individual and collective rights.
We stand in solidarity especially with those who continue to resist through collective action the neoliberal attacks on their rights to livelihood, amid free trade negotiations such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). We also stand with the indigenous peoples of the world in claiming their rights to self-determination and their ancestral lands, and the millions of farmers who fight for land and food sovereignty -- amid continuing violence of state forces and corporate plunder.
IBON International also acknowledges that the peoples’ claim of their rights continues beyond the International Human Rights Day. We manifest our continuous solidarity through knowledge-building and capacity development efforts that enable the people’s empowerment.
In support of the struggle for people’s rights, IBON International participated in an International Solidarity Mission (ISM) for the indigenous peoples and farmers of Kidapawan City, North Cotabato last July 2016. It can be recalled that last April 2016, 6,000 farmers who were demanding the local government to release the 15,000 sacks of rice supply from the allocated calamity funds were violently dispersed by police and military elements.
Below is a reflective account written by a contingent of IBON International staff who were part of the solidarity mission. IBON International acknowledges that the Kidapawan case points to the continuing struggle of farmers and other marginalized sectors in asserting not only their right to freely assemble, but also to an adequate standard of living, which includes adequate food and genuine improvement of living conditions (See Art. 11, Sec. 1 and 2 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights ).
We were assigned to be a part of the International Solidarity Mission (ISM) teams in Southern Mindanao. The ISM gave us the opportunity to immerse into the daily lives of the Lumads (indigenous people in Mindanao) who were harassed and forcedly dispersed from their ancestral lands. Furthermore, the ISM granted us the opportunity to talk to the farmers -- victimized by a violent dispersal during their protest in Kidapawan City last April 2016 -- about persisting oppressed conditions in their region. For most of the participants in the ISM, including us, it was the first time to be face-to-face with these farmers who were directly involved in the protest, where 3 people were killed and 37 were injured by police and military elements.
With the other delegates from Portland Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (PCHRP) along with GABRIELA-Portland, Portland Rising Tide and New York Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines (NYCHRP), we stayed in United Methodist Church (UMC) in Kidapawan City, North Cotabato. The church served as the sanctuary of the 6,000 farmers during the Kidapawan massacre. There we met Lumeriano Agustin, a farmer who was seriously injured in the violent dispersal. He personally shared to us, detail by detail, how he suffered from the incident.
This act of state