#BigasHindiBala: An outpouring of global support for drought protest
MANILA, Philippines – Support and sympathy for Mindanao farmers affected by El Niño have spread across Filipino communities around the world.
The farmers had held the demonstration to demand that government release 15,000 sacks of rice to them, as they have been severely affected by drought in the past months. (WATCH: The drought protest that turned bloody in Kidapawan)
The heartrending images from Kidapawan City sparked the hashtag #BigasHindiBala (Rice, not Bullets), which amplified widespread condemnation of the dispersal that left at least two people dead and over a hundred injured on both sides.
Here’s a roundup of #BigasHindiBala protests held in various cities around the globe since the bloody dispersal on April 1.
Artists for Kidapawan
Performers and other artists put a spotlight on the plight of the farmers in a cultural night on Saturday, April 9, in Manila, Philippines.
The drive called on the audience to help dozens of protesters - including 3 pregnant women and 6 elderly – in posting bail.
A resolution by the City Prosecution Office of Kidapawan City charged about 60 protesters with “direct assault upon an agent of a person in authority."
On Friday, April 8, award-winning artists Nora Aunor and Monique Wilson joined the protest of progressive groups, demanding justice for the victims of what they called the "Kidapawan massacre."
Meanwhile, artists from the University of the Philippines-Diliman College of Fine Arts painted a fiery wall mural that illustrated the plight of the farmers in the countryside and the "Bigas Hindi Bala" call.
Global Day of Action
Filipino migrant workers and students abroad organized various events during the Global Day of Action for the farmers in Kidapawan on Friday, April 8.
SimplyC was there! In solidarity with Kidapawan Massacre Victims!Snippet of the speech CHRP-UK Chairman Rommel Abellar at the Philippine Embassy LondonPosted by Simply C, PR & Events on Friday, 8 April 2016
In London, members of the Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines UK, Kanlungan Filipino Consortium, Filipino Domestic Workers Association, UNISON Filipino Activists Network, and European Network of Filipino Diaspora prayed, lit candles, and sang patriotic songs as they lambasted "government violence, repression, and impunity in the Philippines.”
"We demand that the government officials responsible for the violence and lethality be brought to justice. We support the farmers’ call for food and livelihood assistance from the government. We call for an end to impunity in the Philippines," Campaign for Human Rights in the Philippines UK vice chairperson Dara Bascara told Rappler in an interview on Sunday, April 10.
In Australia, Filipino students called out "spinners who deflect responsibility away from the police and Governor Taliño towards the victims themselves," said Emerson Sanchez, a PhD student of Politics from the University of Canberra.
The protesting farmers did not deserve to be met with violence, stressed Australian National University (ANU) Anthropology PhD student Risa Jopson.
"They have the right to demand food aid from the government, especially since they produce food for the nation. And they exercised that right," Jopson said.
Migrant workers from United States and Saudi Arabia also demanded that the authorities behind the violent dispersal be held accountable.
Long Live International Solidarity! Im/migrants and workers in New York, USA join the "April 8: Global Day of Action for...Posted by IMA USA International Migrants Alliance - USA Chapter on Thursday, 7 April 2016
Filipino-Canadians and human rights advocates earlier gathered in peaceful protest to show their support for the plight of the farmers.
On Saturday, international watchdog Human Rights Watch (HRW) released the findings of its investigation on the violent dispersal of the drought protest, noting that authorities "may have used unnecessary lethal force" in Kidapawan.
The Senate and the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) have yet to release the results of their respective probes. – Rappler.com