NOTE: this is an open letter from Michelle Campos, daughter of slain Lumad leader Dionel Campos, as they travel from their ancestral lands in the Southern Philippine region of Mindanao to Manila in a caravan to protest the attacks on their people, schools, and lands by mining interests and military forces. Climate action group 350 Pilipinas helped send out the message.
Climate change is deeply personal to me. I live in the Philippines and am of the indigenous people, the Lumad. We have a proud culture and self-reliant communities in the lush forests, clear waters, and rugged mountain ranges of the island of Mindanao.
But in my community, large-scale mining interests are sowing fear and violence. Not only are the fossil fuel and extractive corporations are driving the climate crisis, leaving us extremely vulnerable to typhoons such as Washi in 2011 and Bopha in 2012 that killed thousands of people -- they are taking our land and killing our people, too.
My father Dionel Campos, a known leader who bravely stood against coal mining interests, was shot last Sept 1, 2015. On the same day two other community leaders were brutally killed. Since then more than 3,000 of our fellow peasants and indigenous Lumad people have been forcibly displaced in our province of Surigao del Sur.
So why am I writing to you? Because right now I am on a 1,500 kilometer journey with 700 of our people. We are going across our island of Mindanao to Manila, the capital of the Philippines. We will be raising our immediate demand before President Aquino to stop supporting the mining interests and defend us and our land—and we know he’s sensitive to international pressure. By adding your voice with ours, you can help prevent future attacks on climate and environmental activists, like my father.
We are up against giants. 80% of massive coal and mineral deposits in Mindanao are set to be extracted in our ancestral homes by some of the world’s biggest mining corporations: Glencore, Sumitomo, Toronto Ventures, Red 5 Limited, Rio Tinto, Anglo American, and BHP Billiton, partnered with big local firms. Up until now, the government has sided with the large-scale miners, even using the country's armed forces to ‘protect investments’ as stipulated in our ‘business-friendly’ laws.
We arrive at the President’s doorsteps on October 26. On that date, may I ask you to help create a “Twitter storm” by tweeting directly to President @noynoyaquino to #StopLumadKillings. Your support will build up more pressure to get the President’s attention. Please stand with us to #StopLumadKillings
Michell Campos, from Mindanao Philippines
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