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Global Weeks of Action for Mindanao kicks off today in London

MANILA, Philippines – Following the International Peoples’ Tribunal (IPT) verdict last July on the Philippine and US governments’ gross violations of the rights of its citizens, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) has called for global weeks of action for Mindanao.
Starting on November 21, a series of events will be held in succession in different countries in Europe, in the weeks leading up to International Human Rights Day on 10 December. The opening event will be on the 21st in the form of a Public Meeting at the UNISON Centre in London. The meeting is organized by the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines – UK, in coordination with the Kanlungan Filipino Consortium and the UNISON-Filipino Activists Network.
The guest speakers will be two indigenous peoples’ rights advocate from Northern Mindanao, Sr. Ma. Famita Somogod, MSM, the regional coordinator of the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines – Northern Mindanao Region (RMP-NMR), and Prof. Arnold Alamon, the executive editor of the Mindanao Interfaith Institute on Lumad Studies.
“Barely a month after the IPT found the Philippine government guilty of the systematic violation of the Filipino people’s civil, political, economic, socio-cultural rights, there has been an escalation of state and state-sponsored brutality in the indigenous peoples’ communities in Mindanao, the southern part of the Philippines,” said Sister Somogod.
On August 18 this year, five members of the Manobo community in Pangantucan, Bukidnon were massacred by state forces. This was the second massacre this year in Northern Mindanao region alone after the military killed four members of the Higaonon community on March 29. Karapatan, the largest human rights alliance in the Philippines records a total of 15 massacres under the watch of Pres. Benigno Simeon Aquino III.
“The outrage of the communities at the lack of government action and in fact their authored attacks on the Lumad has spread nationwide and attracted international concerns as well when not a month later, the executive director of an alternative learning school primarily catering Lumad students was killed by a state-backed paramilitary group,” the nun furthered.
The main objectives of the Global Weeks of Action for Mindanao are to publicise and gain even wider international support for the struggles of the peoples of Mindanao against their systematic repression and exploitation by their own government.
“We encourage awareness, far and wide, of the continuing abuse of human rights in the Philippines, especially, at this time on the island of Mindanao. These abuses take place in the context of a culture of impunity, enjoyed by those who are responsible for them and of a callous disregard of their plight by their own government,” said Rev. Barry Naylor, chair of the global council of the ICHRP.
“We are pleased that we can hear, at first hand, from human rights activists who have travelled from Mindanao to share their first hand experiences of abuses and terror,” emphasized Reverend Naylor. “It is vital that we let people know what is happening to the people and the land of Mindanao and that we respond in ways that assure people there that they do not stand alone. We wish to affirm that people throughout the world are standing in solidarity with the peoples of Mindanao, that we are listening to them and responding in ways that are both supportive to them and challenging to those responsible for committing and tolerating the abuses they endure.”
In addition to the activities in London, film showings and public meetings will also be organized in Austria and Poland which will be attended by other delegates from Mindanao. Other actions have been planned for Italy, Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands. These activities include awareness raising among Filipino compatriots and human rights advocates, to include international human rights organizations such as the Amnesty International, Frontline Defenders, the Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation –Union of International Superior Generals, and the Pontifical Commission for Justice and Peace of the Vatican. Meeting and lobbying with representatives of the European Union’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development and the European External Action Services are also included in the itinerary. The delegation also hopes to meet Pope Francis.
The Global Weeks of Action in Europe is organized by RMP-NMR, Kalumaran, Panalipdan Mindanao and the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines.

Criselda Cabangon David, a happy mother of two kids, is a full-time Sociologist at the City Government of Lucena, Quezon Province. She is currently the Managing Editor of Ang Diaryo Natin Sunday News, a weekly local community newspaper in the Philippines and an active member of the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines.