We, the Co-chairs of CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness, wish to express our solidarity with our co-chair Beverly Longid, a leading rights advocate from the Philippines and also the Global Coordinator of the International Indigenous People’s Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation.
As a global civil society platform, we work towards the advancement of human rights and civil liberties. We believe in upholding the people’s rights to free expression, peaceful assembly, association, civic participation and social dialogue. We stand for an empowered civil society, which can speak truth to power and perform the necessary checks for governments and corporations.
These pillars of democracies must be protected at all times. They are the people’s means to fight for their welfare and interests, and to seek redress against oppression and exploitation. They are key to the attainment of social justice and genuine development.
Sadly, civic freedoms and civil society and people’s organisations have been under attack around the world, in what we refer to as the global pattern of shrinking civic space. We have especially been closely monitoring the situation in the Philippines, and facts reveal that human rights defenders in the country are being targeted relentlessly and with impunity. Hundreds of rights advocates are being harassed, imprisoned, abducted, tortured, even murdered. Civil society organisations are being prevented from doing advocacy work through bureaucratic restrictions. Our colleagues and partners are being tagged as terrorists for devoting their lives in the service of the marginalised.
In Beverly’s case, one of her affiliations, the Cordillera People’s Alliance (CPA), along with other progressive organisations, is being tagged as an enemy of the state. Other indigenous people’s leaders in the country also face threats to their lives: there is a shoot-to-kill order on Windel Bolinget of CPA, and just before the year ended, nine Tumandok leaders in Central Philippines were killed.
Having worked with many members of these formations, we at CPDE know that they are responsible for legitimate and important work for the promotion of Indigenous Peoples rights and human rights, such as campaigns in defense of ancestral land, self-determination, environmental protection, and sustainable production and consumption. For over three decades, CPA has campaigned against large-scale mining, dam construction, logging, and militarization, among other activities that brought great harm to their communities. The murdered Tumandoks were resisting a mega-dam project that will destroy their homes and livelihood.
Indigenous People leaders and advocates deserve State support and recognition, not defamation or vilification. We strongly denounce these attacks on human rights under the rule of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. We demand accountability for all the crimes being committed against the people’s civic freedoms.
Last year, we led civil society organisations in the Belgrade Call to Action campaign. We asked United Nations Member States – which include the Philippines – to act to reverse the closing and shrinking space for civil society, to stop the attacks on human rights defenders and the undermining of democratic participation, and to renew the prospects for an inclusive agenda 2030, and the full realisation of the Sustainable Development Goals.
We continue to uphold these calls, for Beverly Longid and the rest of our Filipino allies, as well as for the human rights defenders around the world. We laud their commitment and stand by them in their fight for a better society for all.