SYDNEY PROTEST MELBOURNE PROTEST
MONDAY FEB 8, 12.30PM MONDAY FEB 8, 12 NOON
outside Sth Korean Consulate outside Philippine Consulate
44 Market St, Sydney 257 Collins St, Melbourne
On December 30, 2020, at around 4am-5am, 9 Tumandok Indigenoous leaders were first tortured and then shot dead in their homes, and another 16 were arrested in a joint police and military operation in the villages of Tapaz, Capiz and Calinog on Panay Island, in the central part of the Philippines. Some were over 70 years old.
Today on Panay, the families and friends of the victims are marking the 40th day since their deaths. Our protest today is an act of solidarity with these communities.
According to the families of those killed, the victims were sleeping and unarmed when the police and military raided their homes. Most were members of TAMUNDOK an alliance of 17 villages opposed to the construction of the Jalaur Mega dam.
The 16 arrested – 10 men and 6 women – were taken from their homes, where firearms and explosives were planted. They were then charged with these non-bailable offences.
The police and military claim that these people are leaders of the Communist Party of the Philippines or the New Peoples Army, but their communities attest to the fact that they don’t own weapons and are not part of these underground organisaitons. But they have been opposing the Jalaur Dam project since 2011.
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Fear drives evacuations
According to the human rights alliance on Panay, KARAPATAN, the massacre and arrests of the Tumandok leaders brought terror to the different communities. All 78 households or around 300 individuals, left the barangay of Lahug on January 1 out of fear of more killings and arrests. They trekked towards Tapaz town to seek safety. Vehicles of the municipal government met them at Abangay, the last barangay reachable by accessible road, and took them to the town’s Civic Center, a multi-purpose public building.
The evacuees said they could not return to their homes unless they were assured of their safety and as long as the army soldiers remained in their barangay. Groups under the BAYAN umbrella in nearby Iloilo City brought some relief goods, and so did Capiz governor Evan Contreras. The Municipal Social Welfare & Development office of Tapaz attended to the food and sleeping materials of the evacuees. They were much concerned about the mental health of their children due to the traumatizing incident they have witnessed. Parents stressed the need for psychosocial debriefing, especially for their children.
Many residents of the other villages included in the raids also left homes in fear and panic, seeking shelter in houses of relatives, the community’s barangay hall, schools and health and birthing centers.
Church people and church workers received threats from state forces when they would extend help for the Tumandok evacuees. However, despite threats, church people still delivered ecumenical service for the slain IP leaders in Tapaz, Capiz. Joined by IP advocates, church people also brought sacks of rice, sleeping mats, canned goods, hygiene kits, and clothing items for the Tumandok evacuees.
The military and police had been interviewing households in Tapaz and Calinog since June 2020, and the communities had felt that their anxieties had been allayed. The sudden massacre prompted over 300 adults to “surrender”. Those who made these declarations out of fear now fear being killed in a “second wave”.
The Catholic Cardinal and Bishops on Panay have denounced the killings and arrests and helped to organise legal action for those falsely arrested.
The International Independent Commission of Investigation of Human Rights Violations in the Philippines – INVESTIGATE PH – is including the Tumandok massacre in its first report to the UN Human Rights Council, due in March.
The Tumandok people and the Jalaur River Mega Dam
The Tumandok are the largest indigenous people’s group on Panay, with a population of 94,000 in the municipalities of Calinog, Janiuay, and Lambunao (Iloilo province) and Tapaz and Jamindan (Capiz province) with their ancestral domain and communities located along and within the Jalaur and Pan-ay Rivers.
According to the World Commission on Dams, “large dams have had serious impacts on the lives, livelihoods, cultures and spiritual existence of indigenous and tribal peoples.”
The Tumandok people started opposing the mega dam project in October 2011 during their 8th General Assembly. More than a thousand Tumandok people from various upland villages and towns of Iloilo and Capiz provinces voted to oppose the Jalaur mega dam project because it will destroy their communities, livelihoods and the environment, resulting to cultural ethnocide of their tribe.
The Jalaur mega dam will directly and indirectly affect 16 upland villages of Calinog town, totally submerging three villages namely Garangan, Masaroy and Agcalaga. In the most recent government data, about 17,000 indigenous peoples will be affected.
In November 2011, the National Irrigation Administration submitted its final feasibility study to The Export-Import Bank of Korea (Korea Eximbank) but only conducted the Free-Prior-Informed-Consent process on the feasibility study among the affected communities on January until May of 2012. It was rigged.
Australia’s military aid to the Philippines – A$43 million plus
Authorised by ICHRP Australia and Philipines Australia Union Link, Feb 8, 2021. https://www.facebook.com/ICHRP-Australia-103068928423975 https://www.facebook.com/PhilippinesAustraliaUnionLink. www.ichrp.net www.investigate.ph
Tell Foreign Minister Senator Marise Payne to condemn the Tumandok massacre. email@example.com