Activists break into Lumads’ forum, trigger a noisy scuffle

Activists break into Lumads’ forum, trigger a noisy scuffle

By Abner Galino

A noisy scuffle broke out among a group
of Filipino American activists, security personnel and supporters of a group of
Indigenous people from the Philippines during a forum at the Community Hall of
the Philippine Consulate General (PCG) in Los Angeles last Monday (July 15).

Videos of the
incident that went viral on social media showed young persons verbally confronting
a panel of indigenous people from the Philippines, particularly from the
southern main island of Mindanao, as they were talking about alleged atrocities
committed against members of their communities by cadres of the New People’s
Army (NPA).

In reaction,
some guests and personnel of the PCG-LA stood up in defense of the Filipino
indigenous leaders and surrounded the activists. The activists were asked to
leave and, subsequently, dragged out of the community hall.

A couple of the
activists were seen voluntarily walking out, apparently after taking videos of
the incident.

Members of the
Los Angeles Police District (LAPD) were present during the incident and
prevented things from getting out of hand.

The forum
resumed shortly after the last of the activists have been ejected from the
community hall.

The incident
happened at about 7 pm at 3435 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles.

The Town Hall
meeting was titled: “Breaking the
Silence:  Telling the Truth. The Narrative of Struggle, Deception and
Assertion of the Indigenous People of the Philippines.”

The eight forum speakers were from the Mindanao
Indigenous Peoples (IP) Youth Council and Mindanao Indigenous People Council of
Elders as speakers. 

They were
accompanied by members of the Presidential Communications Operations Office PCOO), National
Security Council (NSC) and the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA).

The indigenous
people leaders came from Mindanao, a main island in the southern Philippines
besieged by communist and Muslim separatist insurgency.

In an earlier press
statement, the Philippine government said the IP leaders were in the US to
present their case to the United Nations (UN) and to meet with
Filipino-American communities.

The IP leaders, the
RP government said, were here to invoke the UN Declaration on the Rights of
Indigenous Peoples that was adopted on September 13, 2007, by 144 of UN member
states. It aims to protect the human rights of some 370 million native people
around the world, including their lands and resources.

The Malaya Movement
in Southern California, a coalition of human rights advocates, issued the
following statement:

“We condemn the
mistreatment of advocates who attempted to counter the terrorist-tagging
intended to endanger our safety and to counter the Duterte regime’s lies to
legitimize the slaughter of Lumad communities. We condemn the delegation and
the tour organizers for spreading deadly lies on behalf of the Duterte
dictatorship.”

“Once again, it
should alarm all in the United States that the Duterte government is beginning
to target Filipino activists residing abroad. It’s unfathomably immoral, yet
unsurprising, that Duterte’s office has paid a sham delegation of supposed
Lumad leaders to paint this government a hero of the very Lumad communities it has
repeatedly bombed, executed, and displaced with gusto.”

“Of course, the delegation made no mention of the human rights crimes the Philippine government continues to inflict on the Filipino people or the fact that the UN just passed a resolution to investigate those crimes. By promoting the Duterte regime’s lies, this tour and all who are aiding it are aiding in the murders of indigenous people like Obello Bay-ao, Datu Mario Agsab, and Beverly Geronimo. They are aiding in a dictatorship’s murders of human rights defenders and dissenters, at least 216 of whom have been assassinated as the result of the government’s baseless accusations of terrorism.”

“The Malaya Movement repeats its call to END MARTIAL LAW IN MINDANAO. Malaya’s rapid growth throughout several U.S. cities is the direct result of increasing unity among Filipinos of varying politics. We are calling on all freedom-loving Filipinos to join us on July 22 for the United People’s State of the Nation Address in front of consulate offices across the U.S.”

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