Toronto – December 14, 2015 – UFCW Canada has joined an international campaign calling for an end to the violence against indigenous peoples in the Southern Phillipines. Recently, UFCW Canada National President Paul Meinema, along with 100 other Canadian labour leaders and other social justice leaders and organizations, sent an open letter to ask the Philippine government to pull out paramilitary and military forces from Southern Mindanao, to stop counter-insurgency programs, and to resume peace talks with community groups. This mineral-rich region is considered traditional land to the indigenous group, the Lumads.
The campaign, #StopLumadKillings, is organized by the Canadian chapter of The International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines. It is aimed at heightening the international attention and decisive action to help end atrocities against indigenous peoples of Southern Mindanao – perpetrated by military and paramilitary groups, as a result of the Philippine government’s economic and development program to promote mining and resource extraction on the traditional lands of the Lumads.
The recent increase in encounters of violence and the killings has forced 40,000 Lumads to leave their ancestral lands and evacuate to nearby towns and cities. The Lumads have responded to these systemic attacks by organizing a caravan, referred to as the Manilakbayan. The caravan involved hundreds of Lumads marching on Manila and holding rallies along the way, to bring attention to the attacks.
With these concerted efforts, concerned Canadians hope to support Lumads in their struggle to defend their ancestral lands.