Is there no safe place for the Lumad?
We condemn in the strongest terms the burning of the Lumad evacuation camp and dormitory at the UCCP Haran in Davao today.
Reports from human rights and Lumad groups say that the incident happened at around 2am, while most people were asleep. Initial investigation points to a deliberate attempt to destroy the Lumad camp.
Witnesses smelled gasoline on their roofs prior to the fire. Gasoline containers were also recovered outside the compound, according to reports. Five people, 4 of whom were minors, were reported injured in the fire. Two children were brought to the hospital after suffering burns.
This latest incident is part of the continuing attacks vs the Lumad resistance. The perpetrators may have intended something more than just burning the compound. There also appears to be an intent to terrorize the Lumad evacuees and their supporters.
The evacuation camp has served as a refuge and protest center for the Lumad. The Lumad have been camped out at the UCCP Haran compound since last year because of intense militarization of their communities. Some of them traveled to Manila last year to join protests and raise awareness about the attacks on the Lumad community by state security forces.
Authorities must conduct an immediate investigation and identify the perpetrators.
We challenge the candidates in the 2016 elections to speak out against these atrocities and to put pressure on the national government to act swiftly to allow the Lumad to return to their homes.
Renato Reyes Jr.
Secretary General at Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN)