As Congress deliberates the extension of Martial Law, we the Kalipunan ng Kilusang Masa (KALIPUNAN) a union of movements of farmers, workers, urban poor, women, environmental activists, youth, students stand in solidarity with our Mindanawon sisters and brothers in demanding the immediate lifting of Martial Law in Mindanao.
When armed conflict began in Marawi after the botched government operation on Isnilon Hapilon, and then hundreds of thousands of women, children and men were displaced in Marawi and nearby municipalities, the ensuing violence and imposition of Martial Law from above only served to further silence the voice of the people and deepen divides among us. What Martial Law has done is add another painful moment in the conflict-ridden history of the tri-peoples of Mindanao.
With Martial Law, there have been reports of harassment and public humiliation of Moro civilians made to stand beside photos of members of the Maute group, immobility of internally displaced peoples, growing animosity among local populations due to discrimination against fleeing Moros, several forms of violence against women and children[i].
Undeniably, the struggle of the Mindanawon people for peace was made even more arduous and bleak with the declaration of Martial Law in the entire island region. Such declaration blatantly set aside years of peace building by social movements, and one that has done nothing but sow fear among people and suppress their rights.
As social movements, we believe the way towards peace begins not in suppressing the people’s rights as it is labelled as Martial Law— peace begins in listening then responding to the plea of communities and movements working in the grassroots. The peace process is strengthened in the inclusion of local communities, local indigenous and religious leaders, and their movements.
In the face of more conflict and violence, peoples and their movements must stand in solidarity with one another— for the path towards peace in Mindanao is built on the unity of our peoples, not on suppressing our rights and deepening divides among us.
Congress as supposed representatives of the people must answer to the actual conditions of our people: begin by listening to our demands and lift Martial Law in Mindanao! Recognize and uphold human rights!