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Call for International Action and Solidarity Against Mining and Militarization in Mindanao

International Confab Against Large-Scale Mining Denounces Killing of Mining Activists and Indigenous Peoples' Leaders in Mindanao, Calls for International Action and Solidarity Against Mining and Militarization in Mindanao.

Samarca in IPCM

Emerito Samarca with participants of the Human Rights Workshop during the

International People's Conference on Mining, July 31, 2015

We, the participants of the recently concluded International People's Conference on Mining (IPCM), representing 20 countries and 140 organizations from six continents, along with our friends, allies, partners, and colleagues, express our strongest condemnation for the brutal killing of IPCM participant Emerito Samarca last September 1, 2015 in Sitio (Sub-Village) Han-ayan, Brgy. Diatagon, Lianga, Surigao del Sur, along with Dionel Campos, chairperson of the indigenous organization MAPASU, and Datu Bello Sinzo, a Lumad IP leader. We extend our deepest sympathies to their family and loved ones.

Emerito Samarca is the executive director of the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (ALCADEV). It was set up by Lumad organizations with the help of cause-oriented groups in 2004 to provide secondary education to marginalized Lumad youth in Caraga region in Mindanao.

For his staunch defense of the Lumad people's rights and steadfast efforts to uplift the minds and lives of the Lumad youth, Samarca was bound, beaten, stabbed, and had his throat slit almost from ear to ear. He was last seen with elements of the 75th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army in the ALCADEV grounds with a rope binding his neck, hands, and feet, in the afternoon of August 31. A few kilometers away, also in Lianga town, Campos and his cousin Sinzo were riddled with bullets at the house of another IPCM participant, Josephine Pagalan, in the sub-village of Km. 16. Community witnesses identified the men who opened fire on Campos and Sinzo as brothers Bobby and Loloy Tejero, both members of the paramilitary Magahat/Bagani Forces group.

For decades, mining companies have been itching to explore and extract the rich mineral wealth of the region including the Lumad communities in Lianga. According to the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, Caraga has the biggest iron ore deposit in the world, the largest nickel and gold deposits in the country, and large reserves of copper, chromite and coal. At present, more than 131,000 hectares of land are under the scope of various Mineral Production Sharing Agreements (MPSA) in the region, and include projects involving Chinese (Century Peak Metals), Japanese (Sojitz and Sumitomo Metals), Australian (BHP Billiton, Red 5, and Medusa Mining), Canadian (Mindoro Resources Ltd) and British (Anglo American and Semco Mining) firms.

The Lumad peoples of Caraga, recognizing that large-scale mining projects will push them out of their lands and destroy their lives and livelihoods, have been fiercely defending their ancestral lands against the entry of large-scale mining. Their resistance has resulted in the brutal militarization of their communities to silence dissent and pave the way for large-scale mining activities. Presently, there are nine battalions of the Philippine army deployed in the region, in addition to two infantry brigades, special security forces of mining and logging companies, and paramilitary groups.

The brutal murders of Samarca, Campos and Sinzo are not just violent acts against ALCADEV and the Lumads of Caraga, but against indigenous peoples defending their rights and lands across the world.

We demand swift justice and that the perpetrators of these heinous acts be immediately arrested and prosecuted, chief among them Bobby and Loloy Tejero and the members of the Magahat/Bagani paramilitary group, their superiors from the 36th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army, as well as the officers and elements of the 75th IBPA and Special Forces of the Philippine Army.

We demand the immediate withdrawal of the 36th, 75th IBs and Special Forces of the Philippine Army and the dismantling of the Magahat/Bagani Force from all Lumad communities.

We call on the Philippine government to respect the rights and dignity of indigenous peoples and uphold human rights and justice of the law.

We demand that all anti-people and anti-environment policies and projects such as foreign large-scale mining operations must be immediately stopped.

Lastly, we call on all our friends, allies, and colleagues worldwide to stand with us in action and solidarity to demand justice and accountability for these brutal killings and put an end to militarization, the persecution of indigenous peoples, and an end to large-scale mining plunder, destruction, and injustice.