FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 25, 2016
Reference: Valerie Francisco, Chairperson, GABRIELA USA, firstname.lastname@example.org
U.S. Filipinas Outraged by Arson Attack on Lumad Refugees
At 2:00am on the morning of February 24th in Davao City, Philippines, a Lumad evacuation camp at United Church of Christ in the Philippines (UCCP) Haran woke up to a blazing fire that injured five Lumads, including two young children, ages two and fourteen. According to reports, five unidentified men allegedly a part of the paramilitary group Alamara, which is backed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, broke into the compound and started the fire with bottles of gasoline.
“This ruthless attack on Lumad refugees is a heinous act of terror. The Lumad will never find sanctuary until the attacks against their communities and the constant plunder of their land is put to an end! The perpetrators of the arson must be identified and held accountable!” says Valerie Francisco, Chairperson of GABRIELA-USA.
UCCP Haran has been home to displaced Lumad seeking sanctuary, and members of GABRIELA-USA have had opportunities to send delegations to visit and integrate with the bakwit, a term used for internally displaced peoples. “The audacity of the state to continue to terrorize the Lumad refugees, who have already lost everything after being forced off of their land because of military harassment, is ruthless and brutal. The Haran Center took in my family and I in 2013 to learn about the Lumad struggles. To see what is left of the center and even more so, how much more horror the Lumad refugees must endure infuriates me,” says Donna Denina, Vice Chair of Political Education of GABRIELA-USA.
The Lumad have already been displaced from their ancestral land due to militarization by the Alamara. Over the last year, Lumad leaders have been killed, Lumad schools have been under constant surveillance and attack and over 6,000 Lumad have been forced to evacuate their homes and communities.
GABRIELA USA gravely condemns these attacks, and will continue to stand with the Lumad until they are free from military aggression and rightfully live peacefully on their ancestral land. STOP LUMAD KILLINGS!