Half a month ago, I attended an assembly of the human rights defenders' organization called Barug Katungod (in English, “Standing for Human Rights”), soon after the rash of killings, displacements and harassment of the Lumad (indigenous peoples) that's attributed to militarization and counter-insurgency in several provinces. At least 20,000 people, half of which are children of school age are displaced as a consequence.
During the assembly, the group talked about harnessing the power of social media to spread the information about the cause of the beleaguered Lumad. Having kept a distance from popular social media networks, I was the last to know that a campaign on Twitter alone has generated about 4 million tweets, thus spreading info and stories, globally right from smartphones and computers in a matter of hours. Soon after, the mainstream media also looked into the issue.
I took particular interest in the (hashtag) #SaveOurSchools as its narratives resonate with the World Pulse’s own digital beat: harnessing digital tools to empower women’s voices in issues such as gender-based violence, and furthermore, it also jibes with this year’s theme in the forthcoming celebrations of the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-based Violence, which is, “Peace at Home and Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All.”
The campaign #SaveOurSchools became #StopLumadKIllings as a respected teacher of a hinterland Lumad school was gunned down by paramilitary forces. The death of the teacher highlighted the plight of the Lumad schools and that of the Lumad communities which have fled from their ancestral domains.
At the event, the call for solidarity for the Lumad cause became a resounding chorus.
(Photos are by libudsuroy/CreativeCommons. The videos are by Kilab Productions)