This is the situation shared by delegates from different countries that have come together on the 17th of November in a workshop held at the Balai Kalinaw in UP Diliman Quezon City, Philippines. The workshop is organised by the International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), in partnership with CPDE and other organisations.
The workshop, entitled Indigenous Peoples Resistance to Plunder and Militarisation, gave participants the chance to discuss and share their plights. This was also an avenue to learn from each other as they unify for a greater cause.
CPDE IP AsiaDelegates condemned army groups because of massive militarisation in IP communities. One case that gained prominence in local news is the Lumad killings in the Philippines.
10-year old Daniel*, a Lumad from Davao del Norte, lost his father and mother after they were shot by armed and uniformed men.
Daniel says, “Soldiers killed my parents because they thought they had alliance with Private-armed Groups in their area.” Daniel’s parents were farmers.
Another Lumad child also expressed hatred towards the military as they continue to invade their schools, even their homes.
“They have turned our schools into barracks,” he adds.
Dr. Homen Thangjabam, a professor from Manipur, India shared how ethnic group Metei have experienced massive displacement due to plunder and militarisation – mega dam projects and petroleum explorations in Manipur and eviction through army occupations all becoming detrimental to lands and its peoples.
“Rehabilitation of these displaced people hardly happens, ” Dr. Thangjabam further laments.
He highlighted the importance of IPs having that sense of self-determination.
He quoted Macli-ing Dulag, IP hero from the Cordillera Region in the Philippines, “Land is life and that land is sacred. It is the duty of every indigenous person to defend and protect their.”
Thangjabam adds, “He was the one who sacrificed his life defending the dam in Cordillera. So these are the few things we can learn from each other and through this solidarity we can fight together against neo-liberalism and neo-colonialism.”
The delegates highlighted that plunder and militarisation is prevalent not only in developing countries but also in developed countries.
Aboriginals in Australia, for instance, were treated as though they were animals with the government not including them in the yearly population census. More importantly, Australian government plundered their resources turning them into mines even forcibly closing remote communities, cutting water and electricity to 20, 000 people.
The CPDE focal person for the IP sector in Asia, Atama Katama of Sabah, Malaysia, believes that one way to advance is through being involved in discussion that matters. CPDE gives the IPs the opportunity to speak and promote effective development, a framework to counter development aggression.
Atama says, “Indigenous peoples should prepare their constituencies to take on greater dialogue challenges such as what we have learned from CPDE.”
The workshop ended with hopes that it moves IPs from all over the world to stand together as one and move forward to a growing solidarity for self determination of all IPs.