LARGE SCALE MINING – AN ACT OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
They come – armed men, hooded, or in corporate suits; in broad day light, or in dark nights. They come with tractors, or with bribe money; or memoranda of agreements or contracts. They come with warrants of arrest for libel and all sorts of manufactured charges against the communities.
These are hired men by the foreign mining companies to shut the mouth of those who refuse to sell their lands, and their souls. They knock on people’s doors in the middle of the night; they knock down their doors and their walls in the middle of the day. They uproot the fruit trees and the vegetables they grow for their food and livelihood; they uproot lives from the land they have cultivated their dreams.
These are acts of violence. These acts, and these men who execute these acts, and those who allow these to happen – we condemn.
In the face of all of these, they decided to stand up – they, the women in the mineral-rich communities; women who have no choice but to swallow their fear and dare to stand between the tractors and their homes; who get up on their feet even after being hit by the butt of the rifles; who turn their heads from the easy way of getting out of trouble by signing the agreements. They, the women who resist the peddled promise of better lives for their children, their families, understanding fully well that without their land, they will never be home, nor have peace in their hearts. They, the women, who find time in their full schedule of housework, to come to meetings and protest actions knowing that this is very much their responsibility – to protect her family, her community. They who have remained in the shadow, for they have yet to be recognized as leaders and movers of their communities.
These women, we salute. These mothers, wives, sisters, daughters, defenders – we celebrate your courage, your passion and your strength. We draw inspiration from you to continue walking down the challenging, while for some, deadly, path to change and justice.
The other women – President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and Chair Janet C. Serrano of the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP) – they are powerful women who could make a positive difference with women’s lives. But they decided not. They decided instead to enrich the foreign mining companies, at the expense of the rural and indigenous women. These other women could have opted to perform their duty of respecting the ancestral domains of the indigenous communities. They decided instead to act as brokers for the mining companies.
The other women – ARROYO and SERRANO, we hold responsible – for the increasing impoverishment and hunger of the women and girls in the rural and indigenous communities. We hold them responsible for the continuing violence committed by the mining companies, against women and men in the communities. These women, they have to pay now. We call on them to immediately –
Conduct an independent investigation on the human rights violations committed in mining-affected communities.
Revoke the mining permits on lands which have no genuine free, prior and informed consent from the women and men in the communities.
It has been said, when a woman says NO!, it means NO. And we echo the voices of the women from the mining affected communities who say NO! to mining companies on their lands. NO to the violence committed by the personnel of these mining companies! NO to the inaction of the authorities to bring the perpetrators of these violent acts to justice. NO to the connivance of the NCIP with mining companies in undermining the processes of getting the Free and Prior Informed Consent of indigenous communities. NO to the Mining Act of 1995.
We are in solidarity with their struggle to uphold their rights as women to be heard without fear of persecution, and to live life in peace and dignity.
From the women and men of
LEGAL RIGHTS and NATURAL RESOURCES CENTER-
KASAMA SA KALIKASAN (LRC-KSK/Friends of the Earth-Philippines)