The National Lawyers Guild International Committee expresses its strongest solidarity with the people’s movement in the Philippines following the violent events in Kidapawan, Mindanao, Philippines on April 1, 2016.
Over 5,000 subsistance farmers and indigenous Lumads from different parts of the region were protesting on the Kidapawan highway, calling for the release of immediate emergency food support, including rice stored for this purpose, release of emergency funds, and demilitarization of rural communities. The Philippine National Police opened fire on the farmers’ protest, killing two and wounding 116. In addition, 73 were arrested and detained and over 3,000 participants were forced to seek refuge after the violent dispersal of their peaceful encampment. Farmers who took refuge in the nearby Methodist Church were surrounded by police, while other local farmers who came to accept private donations of rice were prohibited from accessing the church or the donated food by the police under threat of gunfire.
The farmers and Lumad people were protesting a severe drought caused by El Niño, which has been devastating to local food production. El Niño itself is part of the impact of climate change, which in the Philippines as globally is having the harshest impact on subsistance farmers, peasants and indigenous peoples.
The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers in the Philippines is working with the farmers and Lumads to obtain justice and accountability for the violence against them and their communities. Filipin@ community organizations in the United States are organizing protests and are part of an international day of action on April 8 to call for justice for the victims of the Kidapawan Massacre.
The United States government is heavily involved in training Philippine police forces, including police “Special Action Forces,” and providing intelligence information, equipment and “antiterrorism assistance,” which has been and continues to be used to suppress popular movements for justice and accountability.
We express our strong support for the farmers and indigenous people – subject to exploitation, militarization and the most severe impacts of climate change – in the Philippines seeking the fulfillment of a basic human right, the right to food. We also express our strong support for the movement of progressive lawyers and advocates in the Philippines working for justice and accountability at the highest levels for those responsible for the killing of farmers in Kidapawan, and encourage all members of the Guild to join in local actions and protests in their areas in support of justice for the Kidapawan victims.