LILAK on the International Indigenous Women’s Day
September 5 was declared as International Indigenous Women’s Day by Indigenous Women of Latin American in 1983. This was in honor of Bartolina Sisa, an Aymara resistance leader who was brutally executed by royalist forces in La Paz, now the capital of Bolivia, on September 5, 1782. Bartolina, along with her husband, Tupac Catari, led the revolution against the colonialists, asserting their rights as indigenous peoples, and fighting for an equitable share in the Adean’s natural resources.
The rebellion began in Chayanta province, where millions of indigenous people died extracting silver mines for the Spanish colonizers.
Catari and Bartolina were captured along with other rebel commanders, and were brutally killed by the imperialists. After months of unspeakable torture and rape, Bartolina was strangled to death, and her hands and head severed for public display.
Three centuries later, indigenous peoples are still dying extracting mines for the colonial companies, and being killed for their assertion of their rights, and for the equitable distribution of our natural resources. Today, there are countless Bartolinas, even here in the Philippines.
Just a few days ago, the torture of Subanen woman Delma Manda began, when her husband, Timuay Lucenio Anda, and her son, Jordan, were ambushed by still unknown, masked assailants, some 5 kilometers away from their home. They were on their way to the school of Jordan, 11 years old. Jordan was killed on the spot by gunshot wounds. Timuay Lucenio, who has been receiving death threats in the past years, survived the ambush.
The clan of Timuay (Subanen leader) Lucenio has been leading the Subanen community in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur, in their fight for their land rights against logging and mining since the 1960’s.
Delma, who remains inconsolable for her loss, is joined by other Subanen women who express rage over the killing of Jordan, a future leader of the community. Bae Joy Lubosan-Paulin of Kumalarang Ancestral Domain, said “Jordan was killed by individuals who want to grab and take control of the wealth which we, the Subaanens are made stewards of. As a mother, wife and community leader, I cry for justice. The government should be serious in its efforts to search for justice in this senseless death of an innocent child.”
The story of Bartolina and the Aymara people in the mines for colonials in the hinterlands of Bolivia is the story of the Subanen people. Wilma Tero, a Subaanen woman leader in the campaigns against mining in Midsalip, Zamboanga, says “If mining continues in the Zamboanga peninsula, or in the entire Philippine archipelago, more lives will be lost, even of those of innocent children. In Canatuan, Siocon, Zamboanga del Norte, a Subanen man was killed during a picket, amidst the conflicts with Toronto Ventures, Inc (TVI), a Canadian mining company. In July this year, a group of Subaanen men was ambushed by the guards of TVI in Bayog, Zamboanga del Sur. Some were killed, scores were hurt. And now, Timuay Lucenio was ambushed, and his innocent son was killed. When will the violence and the killings stop? When will the lives of our people being taken away as price for our struggle in the protection of our ancestral domains against the mining industry stop? When will the government stop talking about responsible mining? Are the killings of our people part of its responsible mining?”
During Bartolina’s time, mining was undertaken at a massive scale to feed the development needs and greed of the colonials. Today, mining in the Philippines is primarily to feed the need for profit of foreign mining companies, like TVI. This, at the expense of our natural resources, our environment, and the lives of people from the communities who resist the destruction of their sources of food, livelihood, and life.
In celebration of the International Indigenous Women’s Day, LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Peoples Rights) stands with thousands of indigenous women in their struggle for the recognition of their right to self-determination as indigenous women, who are greatly dependent on natural resources for food, shelter, and survival of their families, and their societies.
LILAK joins Delma and the Subaanen women in calling for the end of violence in their communities, to end the impunity and bring Jordan’s killers to justice.
LILAK calls on the Philippine government to protect its people from violence and the corporate greed that cultivates violence. There can never be responsible mining when the price for making mining responsible is the escalating number of deaths of indigenous leaders.
LILAK stands with the indigenous women the world over as the struggle for a more equitable, inclusive, nurturing, life-supporting development paradigm.
Sept. 5, 2012
judy a. pasimio
Deniza Ismael-Villota, coordinators
LILAK (Purple Action for Indigenous Women’s Rights)
A collective of women advocates for indigenous women’s rights
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