After three long months of drought and famine, 6,000 farmers and Lumads formed a barricade at Kidapawan City in North Cotabato in the Philippines demanding food and calamity relief.
On April 1 2016 they were met with gunfire by the police and military.
Filipino-Canadian grassroots organizations and their supporters were quick to respond. On April 3, emergency vigils were held across the cities of Montreal, Toronto, Quebec and Vancouver.
April 8 was declared the Global Day of Action for Kidapawan, and protests were staged worldwide to condemn the violence.
In Vancouver, Migrante B.C. held a gathering outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.
In addition to Migrante B.C., the protests were led by AnakBayan Toronto and their allies.
Protestors denounced the lack of food security and condemned the violence allegedly ensued by the police.
On April 3, a solemn prayer was said for the farmers, accompanied by lamentations over the lack of government accountability following disasters such as Typhoon Haiyan, and this time, one of the most severe droughts in Philippine history.
“When I was 10 years old I experienced 8 months of El Niño. Drought brings about immense suffering—you have absolutely nothing to eat, because everything that grows is dead,” said Bert Monterona, an internationally recognized Lumad artist from Mindanao.
“It seems that to someone who has not starved, food is forgotten as a basic human right.”
Victoria Chen from the Grassroots Women Collective referenced the link between the struggles of First Nations in Canada with indigenous groups and farmers in the Philippines as people who are “over-policed and under-protected.”
Parvin Ashrafi from the Iranian Center for Peace and Justice, also spoke to Filipinos on the global significance of protesting against violence in order to “give voice to the voiceless”.
Chaya Go, standing alongside other Filipino scholars, underscored the importance of addressing the issue of climate justice: “The climate crisis is ongoing. Our farmers who work on the land suffer the most from intensifying weather conditions. Governments fail them when due preparations are not made or when calamity relief is withheld from them.”
Half a dozen attendees, including Jane Ordinario of Migrante BC, come from Kidapawan. They grieve the violence in their hometown.