6 September 2015

We, members and friends of IMA-Europe:

Stand in solidarity with the thousands of refugees fleeing from war and persecution from Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and elsewhere to countries which they believe can provide safety to them and their families. We feel their pain and suffering, share their dream of a brighter future and hope to be reunited with their love ones.

Affirm the inviolable right of refugees to life, protection and care .

Declare that Refugee Rights are Human Rights.

Deplore the inhuman and militarized European Union (EU) border control adding more pain and suffering to refugees; death by drowning and suffocation of thousands on the way to Europe. We deplore racist attacks on refugees in the streets and in the media and by some politicians.

Note with joy the welcoming hands of the people in various countries in Europe like Iceland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Netherlands, UK, Hungary, Sweden, Greece and other countries which give hope to the refugees and which affirms the best of their values and traditions.

Condemn the US-NATO and its allies for unleashing wars , “regime change”, instigating civil conflicts, the flow of weapons to the conflict areas, as in Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and Africa, causing millions to flee from death and destruction. There is wisdom and truth in the statement of a young Syrian refugee who said “ Stop the war. We do not like to come to Europe. Stop the war. Just that.” We are concerned that some unscrupulous groups will make use of the crisis for financial gains.

Consider the “Refugee Crisis” as a justice issue. It calls for identifying the root cause of the crisis and holding accountable those responsible for this massive flow of refugees, the deaths while fleeing and those who shut the doors on the refugees.

Our Calls
1) Save lives, Open Borders to the refugees
2) Stop the criminalization of refugees; imprisonment and deportation of failed asylum seekers
3) Uphold the right of refugees to life, protection and care
4) Adhere to international laws, agreements and covenants on the protection and care of refugees
5) End the wars, stop bombings and flow of weapons to conflict areas.

International Migrants Alliance (IMA)- Europe Chapter,

Luz Miriam Jaramillo

Grace Punongbayan
Secretary General

In this photo provided by UNHCR officials and taken on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Syrian refugees cross the border toward Iraq at Peshkhabour border point at Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has set up an emergency transit camp in Irbil, where around 2,000 refugees are camping out and UNHCR officials say some thousands of refugees have been streaming into northern Iraq, many coming across a newly-constructed pontoon bridge over the Tigris River at Peshkhabour. (AP Photo/HO)
In this photo provided by UNHCR officials and taken on Thursday, Aug. 15, 2013. Syrian refugees cross the border toward Iraq at Peshkhabour border point at Dahuk, 260 miles (430 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has set up an emergency transit camp in Irbil, where around 2,000 refugees are camping out and UNHCR officials say some thousands of refugees have been streaming into northern Iraq, many coming across a newly-constructed pontoon bridge over the Tigris River at Peshkhabour. (AP Photo/HO)

Let the pictures break not only hearts, but also barriers to rights

A spectre is haunting Europe and it’s the spectre of refugees fleeing from their war-torn homes only to find death on the sea and not safety on the land.

The picture 4391of three-year old Syrian child, Aylan Kurdi, face down and lifeless after trying to cross to Greece has been making the rounds of alternative and mainstream media. It moved people, as it must. It called for change, as it should.

For weeks, countries in Europe have been besieged with criticisms from its own people as governments either take hardline stance against or dilly-dally in taking in refugees and providing them the protection, services and haven that international and even EU agreements mandate them to give.

The capsizing of the boat carrying Aylan, and another one carrying other refugees, was the latest proof of the vulnerabilities of displaced people. A few weeks ago, two boats from Libya carrying 500 people trying to get to Europe also capsized in the Mediterranean Sea and reportedly killed 400. This year alone, the United Nations estimated that 2,400 already died trying to get past the treacherous waters of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, who can forget the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis from Myanmar who were also stranded at sea and refused entry by countries in Southeast Asia?

Closing borders and heightened restriction in the entry of foreign nationals – be they refugees fleeing from wars and hunger or migrants displaced by economic hardships and also political strife – is a trend that is slowly creeping not only into Europe but also in other countries that are destinations of those forcibly displaced from their country of birth.

States use the phantoms of jobs scarcity and scramble for dwindling resources and services to justify clamping down on refugee and migration flows. As economic and other crises rage with so-called recovery sluggish or is reserved for corporations and the business sector, refugees and migrants are still being used as convenient scapegoats to blur, if not totally skip over, the reality that skewed economic policies are at the root of problems faced by people in countries hosting refugees and migrants.

The same neoliberal-driven economics that uphold labor expert, coupled by wars and political strife, is what also drives millions of people from their own homeland to seek a more safe and secure life.

This month, the United Nations General Assembly is set to meet and chart the path to development for the next 15 years. It cannot be emphasized enough that the displacement of people due to economic or political causes – the 232 million migrants and 19.5 million refugees – is an issue of holistic development that should respect the comprehensive rights of the people.

When the two boats from Libya capsized, Amb. Macharia Kamau of Kenya who co-chaired the post-2015 development agenda negotiations said that how the migrants crisis is being handled is not the way “to transform the world towards 2030.” It definitely is not.

The post-2015 development agenda promises to leave no one behind. If governments are sincere about this, there should be no more Aylans left behind to suffer hardships or wash up lifeless in foreign shores.

Let the tragic pictures of the death of children not only break our hearts, but also the walls of exclusion and inhumane migration and refugee policies that do not respect the fundamental rights of people already forcibly displaced by economic want and wars.

Eni Lestari
International Migrants Alliance (IMA)/ Campaign for People’s Goals for Sustainable Development (CPGSD)

Attacks on Mindanao Lumad schools and communities intensify as Aquino’s military goes berserk for Oplan Bayanihan


The last year of the Benigno S. Aquino presidency has meant a
bloodbath for indigenous peoples and for Lumad education, two
months after his State of the Nation Address where he gloated of
figures that have purportedly addressed classroom shortages and
increased the quality of Philippine education.

Emerito ‘Tatay Emok’ Samarca, executive director of the
Alternative Learning Center for Agriculture and Development, Inc.
(ALCADEV) and a convenor of the Save Our Schools Network was
killed by government-backed indigenous paramilitary forces. His
body was found lying in a pool of blood, with stab wounds on his
neck, and his throat slit. While Dionel Campos, chairperson of
MAPASU (Persevering Struggle for Future Manobo Generations), and
his cousin Aurelio “Bello” Sinzo, were strafed dead before the
terrified community of Han-ayan, Lianga town, Surigao del Sur
The paramilitary group Magahat— armed, controlled, and commanded
by the 36^th Infantry Battalion, Philippine Army— burned down
the school cooperative building and threatened to massacre the
entire community if they would not leave the area two days before
the killing of the Samarca, Campos, and Sinzo in the morning of
September 1, 2015.
The dastardly crime which was perpetrated at dawn and later
carried out in broad daylight, terrified the erstwhile peaceful
Manobo school and community. As of this writing, the number of
evacuees in Caraga has swelled to 3,000 individuals or more than
500 families coming from the municipalities of San Miguel and
Lianga, with some 70 families still lost in nearby forests.
The Philippine military’s attack on ALCADEV using indigenous
paramilitaries is by far the gravest and most vicious violation of
indigenous peoples’ right to education and constitutes a wholesale
violation of children’s rights.
Moreover, as schools are an integral part of communities, the
attack is an open declaration of the Philippine state’s war of
annihilation against people’s organizations and communities
resisting foreign largescale plunder of ancestral domains.
The 36^th IB Philippine Army-Magahat rampage at the ALCADEV School
shows that the Aquino government has dropped all pretenses of
adhering to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child and other international human rights instruments. It also
demonstrates the irrefutable crimes of the Philippine Army against
indigenous children which the UN Special Representative of the
Secretary General on Children and the Armed Conflict has
continually glossed over, understated, or consistently concealed
in its annual reports.
The Philippine government’s attacks on the ALCADEV School clearly
shows its contempt towards self-determined development asserted by
indigenous communities. Alternative Lumad schools are pushing for
their own culturally-relevant pedagogy that liberates indigenous
peoples from the yoke of institutionalized discrimination and
corporate plunder of ancestral lands.
These Ethnocidal attacks on indigenous education, indigenous
leaders and their staunch advocates and supporters are but the
latest in a string of Aquino’s orders to tighten the noose on
Lumad schools:
1.Since April of 2014 up to present, 25 Lumad schools and
community schools were forced to halt operations for the entire
month of June due to harassment by the AFP and sanctioned by the
Department of Education (DepEd).
2.At least 84 cases of attacks on 57 community schools have
displaced and disrupted the education of over 3, 000 Lumad children.
3.Three minors were brutally killed by the elements of 3^rd
Company of the1^st Special Forces Battalion under the ground
commander Capt. Balatbat with Col. Nasser Lidasan as Battalion
Commander on August 19, 2015 in Pangatukan town, Bukidnon
province. They were part of 5 Manobo tribals strafed and killed on
suspicion of being NPA combatants.
4.The schooling of Lumad children under the Tribal Filipino
Program of Surigao del Sur (TRIFPSS) was disrupted when residents
of Brgy. Siagao, San Miguel, Surigao del Sur were displaced. The
victims were killed by an armed group led by Hasmin and elements
of the 36^th IBPA.
5.A Lumad child was among 14 farmers in White Culaman, Kitaotao,
Bukidnon who were illegally detained and arrested by elements of
8^th IB ug 23rd IB headed by Nicolas Rivera and an official named
Tocmo. All were accused as members of the New People’s Army in
contrast to the fact that they are members of organizations
Nagkahiusang Mag-uuma sa Barangay White Culaman ( NAMABAW) and
Tinananon Kulamanon Lumadnong Panaghiusa sa Arakan (TIKULPA). The
Army threatened to burn down the MISFI-run (Mindanao Interfaith
Services Foundation Incorporated) school which offers 7^th and
8^th grade education in Sitio Dao, Bukidnon.
6.Adding to these abuses is the ongoing mass evacuation of the
Talaingod Manobo people in Davao City since April of this year due
to intensified military operations and threats from the terrorist
paramilitary group ALAMARA. Around 1, 000 individuals from San
Fernando Bukidnon, Kapalong and Talaingod, Davao del Norte have
sought sanctuary at UCCP Haran, Davao City. Learners from
Salugpungan Ta Tanu Igkanugon Community Learning Center Inc
(STTILCI) in Talaingod have been holding their classes at the
refugee camp since the evacuation started. Worse, three soldiers
of the 1003^rd Infantry Brigade raped a 14-year old Manobo grade 4
student of the Butay elementary school while conducting military
operations in the area.
7. Last month, the Rural Missionaries of the Philippines-Northern
Mindanao schools in Agusan del Sur and Bukidnon have earlier
reported harassments and threats from suspected state forces in
the form of anonymous text messages, private message via facebook,
and surveillances. In March 18, 2014, an RMP-NMR school grounds in
Binikalan, San Luis, Agusan del Sur was strafed by 26^th IB troops
disrupting the graduation practice of the school. In Sarangani
province, administrators and faculty of the Center for Lumad
Advocacy and Services (CLANS) which provides education to
indigenous Blaan children have been filed with false criminal
charges of serious illegal detention of evacuees and inciting to
The Aquino government should be held accountable for all these
violations. It is responsible for the formation and arming of the
paramilitary groups, the paving the way for the enty of largescale
destructive projects in the ancestral domains, the sowing of
disunity among IPs, and the killings that have claimed the lives
of many.

The Save Our Schools Network demands Justice for Samarca, Campos,
Sinzo and all victims of human rights abuses! End all forms of
attacks on schools and communities!

Prof. Mae Fe Templa, MSW
Convenor, Save Our Schools Network