UN Human Rights Council urged to probe abuses vs lumad
A human rights group has urged the United Nations (UN) to probe the recent killings of lumad and the displacement of thousands of indigenous peoples in Mindanao.
“We want international bodies to know what is happening in Mindanao—that the Lumad, in defense of their land, are being killed and forced to leave their communities,” Karapatan secretary general Cristina Palabay said in a statement Saturday.
In a letter addressed to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), Karapatan has asked for an investigation on the killings and the evacuation of almost 3,000 lumad in Surigao del Sur.
“We are asking the UN HRC to investigate and recommend actions to the Philippine Government on these issues,” Palabay said.
Karapatan told the UNHRC about the recent killing of lumad leaders Dionel Campos and Datu Juvello Sinzo and Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) school director Emerito Samarca.
On September 1, the Magahat-Bagani paramilitary forces under the 36th and 75th Infantry Battalion-Philippine Army gunned down Campos in front of the whole community in Diatago, Lianga, Surigao del Sur.
Karapatan said that Sinzo was separated from the crowd and was “was tortured by hitting his arms and legs with wooden stick before he was shot” while Samarca was found dead inside the classroom of Alcadev “with an ear-to-ear slit on the throat and gunshot wounds in the chest.”
“The 36th Infantry Battalion (IB), 74th IB and the Special Forces were at the periphery,” Palabay said, quoting the accounts of witnesses.
“There is no way the government can deny this as long as it implements counter-insurgency programs like Oplan Bayanihan. The paramilitary group is one way of tackling this dirty war against the Filipino people. It is no wonder why the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) has not disbanded these groups—because they work together,” Palabay added.
AFP chief Gen. Hernando Iriberri has assailed critics linking soldiers to the recent killings of Lumads in Surigao del Sur.
READ: Iriberri scores critics linking soldiers to Lumad killings
“They want to destroy the image of the Armed Forces,” he told reporters on Thursday,” Iriberri said, referring to the AFP’s critics. IDL