Thursday August 16, 2018

'Stop the attacks’

International Solidarity Mission team in a press conference Sunday, July 22 (Contributed Photo)

THE International Solidarity Mission (ISM) is an initiative of the human rights and peace groups in the Philippines that invited participants from different countries to gather stories and take necessary actions in supporting and amplifying local human rights concerns in the Philippines at national and international levels.

The ISM team in Negros is composed of international delegates and Philippine organizations (UMA and EcuVoice) and Negros human rights organizations including the Aglipay Diocese of Negros Oriental.

Participants confirmed reported human rights violations in northern Negros through interviews with families and members of organizations the victims were a part of, corroboration with existing documentation, fact-finding mission findings, and meeting with officials and authorities.

Based on their findings, they recorded 16 victims of political killings since 2017. The recent one was Julius Barellano, chairperson of Hacienda Medina Farmer’s Association, an affiliate member of National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW), who was shot dead in San Carlos City on June 27.

The group said the killings have created an atmosphere of terror as the family of these victims and other peasant leaders organizing for their right to the land continue to be threatened and harassed.

They stressed that the attacks on leaders and members of farmer’s organizations and other peoples’ organizations concretely demonstrated by the series of political killings, sustained harassment and threats are directly related and intertwined with the farmers continued to struggle for land in haciendas.

These incidents involving human rights of farmers and of the people have not received serious and appropriate actions from local officials and authorities while the militarization of communities continue, they added.

They also said the intertwined issues of human rights and land among farmers and farm workers in Negros would have been tackled in the peace talks of the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front in addressing the root causes of armed conflict in the country and in advancing the comprehensive agreement on social and economic reforms. (PR)