In the latest of a wave of deadly attacks on indigenous peoples in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, a community leader was gunned down by armed men on a motorcycle in Agusan del Sur province on Sept. 28. Lito Abion, 44, a leader of the indigenous organization Tagdumahan, was slain in Doña Flavia village, San Luis municipality, where he long been an advocate for land rights and local autonomy—especially opposing large-scale gold-mining operations in the area. This year has seen several killings and violent attacks on Lumads, as the indigenous peoples of the region are collectively known. Following a call from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, the central government has formed a commission to investigate the attacks, led by Edmundo Arugay, director of the National Bureau of Investigation. But local rights advocates see the government's hand in the violence, pointing to a paramilitary group called the Magahat Bagani Force, said to be linked to the Philippine army. Some 3,000 Lumad residents of the municipalities of Lianga, Marihatag, San Agustin, San Miguel and Tago have been displaced by fighting in their villages and are currently taking shelter at a sports complex in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur province. The abuses have escalated along with a new counter-insurgency offensive against guerillas of the New People's Army (NPA) in recent weeks. (Rappler.com, Oct. 1; PIPLinks, Sept. 30 Inquirer, Sept. 6)
The response to the latest campus shoot-up is depressingly predictable, and it gets worse each time. Just heard some talking head on NPR (he's also been on Michigan's WPBN and Illinois' KHQA) intoning the "If You See Something, Say Something" mantra—this time regarding human beings exhibiting suspect behavior. So now it doesn't just apply to mysterious packages left unattended on subway platforms, but to people who seem "weird" or "off" or "loners" or "maladjusted" or "mentally ill" (all problematic labels). Rat-out culture is being extended and institutionalized, while the Gun Lobby makes it impossible to address the ubiquity of the instruments of death used in these routine massacres. (This latest punk had an AR-15 and five handguns.) So (count on it) within a year or two (maybe less), there will be round-ups and pre-emptive arrests of the socially awkward, the introverted, Asperger's diagnosees, etc... and you will still be able to walk into a gun show, slap down your money and walk out with an AR-15, no questions asked. So spare us your 100% bogus talk about "freedom," gun-fetishists.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers rioted across the occupied West Bank late Oct. 1, with multiple attacks reported on Palestinian homes and vehicles in the aftermath of an earlier shooting that killed two settlers near Nablus. In the Palestinian village of Beitillu, assailants torched a car and spray-painted "Revenge Henkin" on a nearby wall, the army said, noting that nobody was hurt. Eitam and Naama Henkin, both in their 30s, were gunned down while driving on that night between the illegal settlements of Itamar and Elon More, in the north of the Palestinian territory. Their four children, aged between four months and nine years, were found unharmed in the back of the car. Shortly after the shooting, locals said over 200 settlers attempted to raid the town of Huwwara south of Nablus under the protection of Israeli soldiers, while Palestinians used speakers from a mosque to mobilize villagers to resist the incursion. A large number of Israeli forces raided Beit Furik village and searched the surrounding countryside, while settlers raided Burin and smashed Palestinian vehicles near the Huwwara checkpoint and on a nearby main road.
The Mexican interior ministry, known as Gobernación, was on Sept. 15 accused by a senate committee of covering up evidence pointing to official complicity in the July escape of drug kingpin Joaquin Guzmán Loera AKA "El Chapo"—for more than 10 years the country's most-wanted fugitive. Sen. Alejandro Encinas of the left-opposition PRD, who heads the Senate National Security Committee, said that Gobernación had denied him access to video footage from Guzmán's cell—which is now revealed to incude "drilling sounds" in the background, incdicating that prison authorities ignored construction work on the tunnel through which Chapo escaped. "The video exists and it is crucial in order to identify the extent of complicity in Chapo’s escape," Encinas told the EFE news agency. "Just the fact that the sound of a drill can be heard [on the recording] implies complicity on several levels."
At least nine people have been killed and 20 more wounded in an escalating land conflict on Nicaragua's Miskito Coast over the past month. Hundreds of indigenous Miskito residents have fled their ancestral lands, in some cases seeking refuge across the border in Honduras. The crisis in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) pits indigenous Miskito and Mayangna communities against mestizo peasant colonists from Nicaragua's more densely populated west. Miskito political party YATAMA claims the peasants are illegally invading titled indigenous lands, sometimes after plots have been fraudulently sold by corrupt officials. Among the most impacted communities is Tasba Raya Indigenous Territory, where the communal president Constantino Romel was shot and wounded by National Police troops Sept. 16, allegedly after attempting to run a checkpoint. Community leaders deny police claims that officers were fired upon fmor the pick-up truck. Elvin Castro, traditional judge in the indigenous community of Francia Sirpi, has issued an ultimatum giving the colonists one month to to quit the community's territory. "If within one month they do not comply with this, then they will die," he announced. "The colonizers come to destroy the forests that we have cared for such a long time, destroying the watersheds, the plants and the animals... The government has supported the colonizers with firearms so that they can make problems."
Public sector workers in Cuzco, Peru, held a rally in the historic city Sept. 30 to protest plans by the national government to allow private administration of cultural and archaeological sites. The Cuzco regional government, whose territory includes such famous sites as Machu Picchu, Saqsaywaman and Ollantaytambo, has already announced its refusal to comply with the new policy. The national Culture Minister Diana Álvarez-Calderón says President Ollanta Humala's new Legislative Decree 1198 does not affect the fundamental nature of state properties but would help attract capital "in order to transform them into a point of development in its area of influence." She emphasized that many archaeological sites are currently unprotected and vulnerable to artifact thieves and traffickers, and environmental erosion. But Wilfredo Álvarez, leader of the Cuzco Departamental Workers Federation (FDTC), warned, "If the private sector administrates the archaeological centers, it will bring income for millionaries" rather than the Peruvian people. He said the FDTC would give President Humala a "prudent" amount of time to revoke the decree before undertaking an "indefinite" strike. (La Republica, Oct. 1; Peru This Week, El Comercio, Sept. 29; Andina, Sept. 28; La Republica, Sept. 27)
Mapuche indigenous leaders in Chile are expressing outrage over the violent eviction of protesters who were occupying a government office in the southern region of Araucania last month. Some 40 local Mapuche residents had been occupying the offices of the National Indigenous Development Corporation (CONADI) in Temuco for three weeks when the building was stormed by troops of the Carabineros militarized police force Sept. 7. "The security forces, without warning, began immediately firing tear gas inside the building, even though they knew there were women and children inside," Mapuche leader Victor Queipul told Chilean media outlets. "These events...clearly show the inability of the government to engage in dialogue over the situation in La Araucania." The protest occupation was launched to demand resistution of usurped lands, and "demilitarization" of the Mapuche community of Ercilla, Malleco province, which has been occupied by police troops for months. (UNPO, Sept. 10; TeleSur, Sept. 8; PubliMetro, Biobio, 24Horas, Chile, Sept. 7)
Former Guantánamo Bay prisoner Djamel Ameziane filed a petition (PDF) with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) seeking reparations from the US government for human rights violations he alleges that he endured while in custody. Ameziane was forcibly returned to his home country of Algeria in December 2013, despite his protests that he would be subjected to persecution based on his ethnic minority status and in violation of IACHR precautionary measures. Ameziane was held for 12 years in Guantánamo Bay without charge and claims he was subjected to physical and psychological abuse there in violation of articles of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is representing Ameziane's case against the government. This filing marks the first time the IACHR will consider a case against US arising from Guantánamo Bay. Ameziane is seeking compensation for the rights violations, the return of money seized from him upon his arrest, and to require the US to "adopt all measures necessary to guarantee the safety and integrity of all men remaining" at Guantánamo.