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Philippines: Threats Against Indigenous Human Rights Defender
Letter by William Gomes Salem-News.com
Ms Erita Capion Dialang's problems began after the killing of relatives in an army attack.
Courtesy: Google Maps
(SALEM) - Ms Erita Capion Dialang is an indigenous human rights defender who has been under threat since the killing of her sister-in-law on 18 October 2012.
Early in the morning on the 18th October 2012, as everything was quite in the village of Fayahlob, South Cotabato province, the military attacked the family of a known activist who battles corrupt forces for the benefit of human rights.
Business interests in the Philippines are backed by the military and taking action by murdering women and children, seriously.. literally.
Acting the role of a legitimate military unit, the Philippine Armed Forced 27th Infantry Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Noel Alexis Bravo, entered the village of Fayahlob, and had his soldiers direct a machine gun at the Capion family home and start firing.
The attack killed Erita Capion Dialang’s sister-in-law, Juvy Capion as well as two of Juvy Capion’s children, and has been described by the military as a “legitimate encounter”.
This, despite the results of fact-finding missions by non-governmental organisations in the area. It is reported that the military tampered with the scene, washing blood away from the house and moving the bodies of the deceased, before the arrival of the forensic investigation team.
H.E. Benigno Aquino III,
Republic of the Philippines, Malacanang Palace,
JP Laurel Street, San Miguel,
I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.
I came to know about the situation from Front Line Defenders.
Indigenous human rights defender Ms Erita Capion Dialang has been under threat since the killing of her sister-in-law on 18 October 2012, during an attack by a battalion of the Philippine armed forces. Erita Capion Dialang is the chairperson of the indigenous peoples’ organisation KALGAD, which is active in South Cotabato province, and part of a large alliance of indigenous peoples of Southern Mindanao. While there have been reports of members of the community using force, Erita Capion Dialang has continued to peacefully denounce crimes by the military and oppose Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI), a multinational mining corporation that wants to start exploiting the ancestral lands of her tribe.
Around 6am on 18 October 2012, members of the Philippine Armed Forced 27th Infantry Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Noel Alexis Bravo, entered the village of Fayahlob, South Cotabato province, and proceeded to attack the Capion family’s house with a machine gun. The attack killed Erita Capion Dialang’s sister-in-law, Juvy Capion as well as two of Juvy Capion’s children. The attack has been described by the military as a “legitimate encounter” despite the results of fact-finding missions by non-governmental organisations in the area. It is reported that the military tampered with the scene, washing blood away from the house and moving the bodies of the deceased, before the arrival of the forensic investigation team.
Days before the deadly attack, the human rights defender had travelled to Manila in order to be interviewed by ABS-CBN news company for its programme Failon Ngayon, which focuses on social issues. In the interview, she drew attention to the harassment, intimidation and other violations of human rights frequently suffered by the Blaan people at the hands of the mining corporation and the military. The exposure she has given to violations on their part has contributed to her status as one of the leading indigenous voices in the region.
Erita Capion Dialang has been under threat for a long time due to her high profile and vocal criticism of the actions by the mining corporation and the 27th infantry battalion of the armed forces. The threats mention that the military forces are looking to liquidate her, and that she is being kept under surveillance. In addition to this, she is in a vulnerable position due to the remote location of her village of Bong Mal, Tampakan, South Cotabato province, where lines of communication are unstable.
KALGAD is a regional indigenous organisation currently involved in a campaign against the mining corporation Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) that has started exploiting large-scale open-pit copper and gold mines in the boundary area of South Cotabato, Davao del Sur, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani provinces, on the ancestral lands of the Blaan people, who are represented by KALGAD. They are members of the regional alliance of indigenous peoples’ organisations KALUHHAMIN, which covers southern Mindanao island.
I am deeply concerned for Erita Capion Dialang’s security and physical and psychological integrity in the wake of the military’s actions killing her family members as well as the persistent nature of the threats and surveillance against her. Indigenous human rights defenders campaigning peacefully for land rights on Mindanao island face a climate of insecurity.
I urge the authorities in the Philippines to:
1. Take all the necessary measures to guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of human rights defender Erita Capion Daliang and her family members;
2. Carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the threats and intimidation against Erita Capion Daliang, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;
3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in the Philippines are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.
William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com
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Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.
He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.
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