Solidarity statement - Arson in Lumad refugee camp

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On 24 February an arson attack took place in a Lumad refugee camp in Davao City. Five people were injured and possessions of twenty one people were devoured by the fire. Stop The Killings Belgium condemns this crime and demands an independent investigation into the perpetrators.

On the night of 24 February, around 2:30 AM, three thus far unknown men set fire to the camp from a motorcycle. They poured gasoline all over the canvas roofing of the temporary accommodation and then threw a lit torch on top of it. The dormitory of the church building located next to the refugee camp was also set on fire with gasoline. As a result, properties of the church and personal possessions of the sleeping guests were destroyed.

Context:
The 700 Lumads residing at the United Church of Christ in the Philippines Haran evacuation center have been there since February 2015. They fled their homes in Talaingod and Kapalong, in Davao del Norte, after the Philippine Army and the allied Alamara militias seized their villages. In these villages people were forcibly getting recruited by paramilitary groups.

The Lumads?
The Lumads are the indigenous people of Mindanao, an island in the South of the Philippines. Mindanao holds an abundance of products like cocoa, coffee, rubber, pineapples, bananas, ... The island is also home to the biggest mineral reserves of the country (copper, gold, aluminum, iron) and therefore also "hosts" some of the biggest multinationals of the world. Mining has a huge environmental impact and poses a threat to food and water provision in the indigenous areas. The population is getting organized to protect their ancestral grounds, but they are met with sizeable repression.

The intimidations and threats directed against the Lumad people, who received the STK Human Rights Award in December 2015, persist. Sending the refugees back to an occupied war zone would display how little understanding the government shows. The government has a hand in the problem through the thorough militarization of the ancestral grounds of the Lumad people.

We condemn this arson attack and demand an independent investigation into the perpetrators be instigated.

More information:

Website of Karapatan.

Article on Davao Today.

Translation : Natasja Van Goethem

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Icône PDF solidarity statement STK Belgium.pdf69.2 Ko