Tell it to SunStar: Environmentalists in terrorist list

A NUMBER of international environmental organizations, including the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), have added their voice to those expressing deep concern and condemnation over the inclusion of several environmental and human rights defenders in a list of 649 individuals the Department of Justice (DOJ) accused as “terrorists.”

The UN Environment, IUCN, and various other international environmental groups have lent their voice to our fellow environmental defenders, including a UN special rapporteur, wrongly accused by the Duterte regime of being terrorists. Duterte’s dangerous “hit list” should immediately be revoked and its chief architects should be held accountable.

Among those in the list were UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz and Indigenous Peoples Major Group for Sustainable Development focal person Joan Carling, alongside other well-known indigenous Igorot leaders and civil society figures from the Cordillera People’s Alliance, a local affiliate of Kalikasan.

It also included Datu Isidro Indao and several other indigenous Lumad leaders based in the Pantaron Range, a mountain range classified by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) as a ‘Key Biodiversity Area,’ as well as Defend Ilocos coordinator Sherwin de Vera and Defend Southern Negros secretariat member Zara Alvarez, and BUKAL Batangas members Arnold Evangelista and Erlindo Baes, all affiliates of Kalikasan as well.

UN Environment head Erik Solheim said “these charges must be dropped immediately,” expressing that “it is deeply concerning that authorities have routinely responded to the expressions of environmental and human rights defenders by criminalizing and delegitimizing their voices.”

The shrinking space available to independent people to carry out legitimate work and to speak on behalf of many voiceless indigenous and local communities globally is an issue that must be addressed through increasing openness and participation,” Solheim added.

IUCN Director General Inger Andersen noted that “the Philippines ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and call on President Duterte and the broader government authorities to immediately annul this unacceptable action and to issue apologies and regrets to all concerned.”

IUCN observed that the particular accusation against Ms. Tauli-Corpuz came after her public comments concerning the killing of indigenous Lumad peoples by members of the Philippine armed forces in Mindanao.--Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
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