Philippines: worldwide support grows for Lumad teachers and students fighting for their right to education

Teacher unions globally continue to show solidarity and answer the Education International’s call to action, condemning ongoing attacks against Lumad schools, teachers, students and their communities in the Philippines.

Education International (EI) affiliates from all regions of the globe have raised their voices in solidarity and issued protest letters and public condemnation, since 26 July, when EI called on its member organisations to condemn the continuous harassment of and attacks against students, teachers and human rights defenders of the Lumad indigenous communities in the southern Mindanao island, in the Philippines. Education International had been alerted to these military and para-military attacks by its Filipino affiliate, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).

Education unions in solidarity include: the Australian Education Union/Australia; the Confederaçao Nacional dos Trabalhadores em Educação/Brazil; the Syndicat des enseignants bulgares/Bulgaria; the Asociación Nacional de Educadores/Costa Rica; the Fédération Formation et Enseignement Privés-Confédération française démocratique du travail/France; the Fédération Syndicale Professionnelle de l'Education/Guinea; the Japan Teachers’ Union/Japan; the Utdanningsforbundet/Norway; the Organización de Trabajadores de la Educación del Paraguay/Paraguay; the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers and the National Union of Teachers/United Kingdom; and the National Education Association/United States of America.

Aside from teachers’ unions, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, through ACT, publicly condemned the persecution and sent an appeal letter to President Duterte. It called for: the immediate release of Amelia Pond, a researcher from a Lumad centre currently held on false charges; the end of threats, harassment and intimidation of teachers from Lumad schools; the disbandment of all paramilitary groups operating under the state armed forces; and the withdrawal of the Philippine counter-insurgency programme that resulted in numerous cases of human rights violations;

It further demanded that the Philippines’ government adhere to and respect the human rights standards for all, including the Lumad students’ right to education.

Background

Under the implementation of the martial law, the militarisation has intensified and increased the state-sponsored attacks on Lumad communities and territories, and continues to threaten the operations of Lumad schools, through harassment, intimidation, arrests on false charges, killings, destruction of school properties, evacuation and displacement.

Lumad students and teachers nevertheless are standing up for their right to indigenous education, and ACT and SOS Network remain strong and will organise from 1-21 September joint actions, such as the “Kampuhan” or encampment at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City, and in many parts of the country.

EI’s Urgent Action Appeal

Through  its urgent action appeal dated 26 July, EI urged all its member organisations to take immediate action, for example:

·         Send a protest letter to President Rodrigo Duterte and relevant authorities in the Philippines (see model letter);

·         Contact national governments as well as the diplomatic representation of the Philippines in their country, requesting a dialogue on these issues with the Filipino authorities;

·         Release public statements condemning the attacks against the Lumad education communities in Mindanao; and give visibility to this situation on social media.

 

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