Two indigenous peoples and peasants struggling for land are killed in the country every month.
By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
MANILA – The Philippines has the most number of killings of indigenous peoples and peasant activists in Asia and Latin America for the past six months, a study of a global environmental group revealed. State security forces, including paramilitary groups, were the main perpetrators in the killings.
A Land and Rights Watch (LR Watch) study showed that 36 indigenous peoples and peasants were killed in the two continents from January to June this year. Fifteen, or nearly half were from the Philippines.
Five were killed in Honduras, four in Columbia, three in Brazil, two each in Indonesia, Pakistan and Mexico, and one each in Thailand, Guatemala, and Peru.
LR Watch is an initiative of the Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (Panap) to closely monitor and expose human rights abuses against communities opposing land and resource grabbing.
Sarojeni Rengam, Panap executive director, said this means that six are killed every month among indigenous and farming communities and activists facing land struggles in Asia and Latin America.
In the Philippines, majority of the human rights violations were in Mindanao, the Panap said.
Back in late 2014, peasant and human rights groups reported that 55 battalions, or at least 60 percent of the troops of the Armed Forces of the Philippines is deployed in Mindanao.
Recently, human rights groups assailed the massacre of three indigenous peoples while attending a birthday party in Paquibato, Davao City. The military were quick to announce that they were members of the New People’s Army who were killed in an encounter.
This was followed by the killing of Lumad and Typhoon Pablo survivor-turned-activist Ricky Basig.
Military operations in communities targeted to close down indigenous peoples’ schools, which soldiers branded as “NPA schools.”
Lumad communities were forced to evacuate from their homes due to intensified military operations in their area. A fact-finding report of the human rights group Karapatan revealed that at least five were tortured, 32 faced threats and intimidation, among others.
The study documented 510 cases of human rights violations in Asia and in Latin America. Other forms include threats and harassments, arbitrary arrest and detention and filing of trumped-up cases.
Panap said, “The compiled data help provide a glimpse of the alarming state of human rights confronted by indigenous peoples, farmers, farm workers and others in the rural communities that are defending their right to land and resources.”