STATEMENTS | Indigenous women persist on growing the seeds of freedom

By PHILIPPINE TASK FORCE FOR INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
www.nordis.net

2018 was a year of terror as incessant state violence against indigenous communities unfolded. Indigenous women in particular were targeted by the state because of their strong political convictions to defend their homeland against corporate greed.

We remember Beverly Geronimo, a Lumad anti-mining activist who was killed by state security forces on May 26, 2018 while on board a habal-habal (motor cycle). She was with her eight-year-old daughter riding back home after purchasing school supplies when they were fired at by armed men killing her on the spot and wounding her daughter. Before she was killed, state security forces ceaselessly harassed and threatened her because of her staunch opposition against large scale mines namely, OZ Metals and Agusan Petroleum that are determined to get hold of their ancestral land. Four (4) other Lumad women were killed in Mindanao as Duterte’s Oplan Kapayapaan systematically targeted activist organizations and individual dissenters.

Aside from these killings, indigenous women and their advocates face constant attacks in the form of threat, harassment, and intimidation (THI), filing of trumped up charges, illegal arrest and detention, malicious tagging, spreading of fake news, bombings, perpetual militarization of communities. In the Cordillera alone, five women were charged with trumped-up criminal cases and five other women were included in the Department of Justice’s terrorist proscription list. One of them is now languishing in jail.

As we face these trying times in our struggle for a better society, let us remember and draw strength from the Mirabal sisters of the Dominican Republic. They were political activists massacred by the henchmen of Dictator Trujillo on November 25, 1960 because of their resistance against the dictatorship and for being vocal on women’s human rights. It is in their cause that the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women (IDEVAW) was declared kicking off on November 25 and culminating on December 10 each year in commemoration of International Human Rights Day.

We take this occasion to honor the pillars of the indigenous women’s movement who have gone ahead of us. Mother Petra Macliing of Bontoc, a feisty and fearless leader in defense of homeland; Ina Endena, a dauntless human rights defender against state security forces, among many others. We likewise salute the indigenous women organizations, their members and leaders who, in spite of grave challenges, courageously persist to achieve a society where indigenous peoples’ and women’s rights are recognized and upheld. Let us remember the countless women who dismantled military camps, bared their breasts, confronted soldiers, trooped to detention camps and did other courageous acts so that future generations may live in peace. We draw courage from their stories of resistance as we continue to fight for our rights to land, life, and dignity. # nordis.net

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