[PRESS STATEMENT]
July 23, 2015

Reference:     Cristina “Tinay” Palabay, Secretary General, 0917-3162831
                        Angge Santos, Media Liaison, 0918-9790580

Karapatan Condemns Military and Police Brutality vs. Lumad Evacuees

“A congresswoman who acted in concert with the Armed Forces of the Philippines prompted the brutal action of the police against the Lumad evacuees at the UCCP compound in Davao City,” said Cristina Palabay, secretary general of Karapatan. 

North Cotabato Rep. Nancy Catamco mobilized the police, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the paramilitary group ALAMARA to supposedly rescue the Lumad who sought shelter at the UCCP compound since April 2015 because of the military operations in their communities. 

“It is not the most convenient situation for the Lumads to be in an evacuation center, in a place far away from their homes and farms. But they had to do this sacrifice for their temporary security and safety. Their lives are at stake if they remain in their communities in the presence of the elements of the 68th IB-PA and its paramilitary group ALAMARA,” Palabay added. 

Palabay said the AFP has been conducting combat operations in the remote villages in Talaingod, Davao del Norte. Its troops led by the 68th IBPA have encamped in the communities, tagged civilians as mass base of the New People’s Army, used Lumad schools as camps, and threatened and coerced the civilian population. 

This is not the first time the Lumads from Talaingod, Davao del Norte left their communities. Last year, several hundreds of Lumads also evacuated because of bombings, use of civilians as shields and guides during combat operations, and a host of other gross human rights violations. The evacuees at the UCCP compound are the second batch of evacuees who left their homes this year. The Lumads decided to finally leave their homes after members of the ALAMARA paramilitary group started to forcibly recruit them into the paramilitary group. 

“The Lumads left their homes and farms seek shelter only to become victims of violence again,” lamented Palabay. “Ano ang gusto ng gobyernong ito? Saan niyo sila gustong magpunta?” 

Members of rights and religious groups supporting the plight of the evacuees were falsely charged by the AFP with kidnapping, illegal detention and human trafficking.  

Three days ago, on July 20, the plight of the evacuees was brought to the attention of the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Internally Displaced Persons Dr. Chaloka Beyani who is on official visit in the Philippines from July 21 to 30, 2015. ###
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Alliance for the Advancement of People's Rights
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KARAPATAN is an alliance of human rights organizations and programs, human rights desks and committees of people’s organizations, and individual advocates committed to the defense and promotion of people’s rights and civil liberties.  It monitors and documents cases of human rights violations, assists and defends victims and conducts education, training and campaign.