Church people tell Arroyo:

Stop the war in Mindanao! US troops out of Mindanao!

 

Quezon City

 

August 21, 2007  Updated August 25, 2007

 

 

We believe that just and lasting peace in Mindanao can be achieved when the rights to land, livelihood and sovereignty of the Moro people, Lumad and other marginalized sectors are upheld. So long as the economic wealth and political power in Mindanao are concentrated in the hands of the local elite and foreign business giants, the Moro people will have reason to wage armed struggle in defense of their ancestral domain and sovereignty.

 

We quote the Marin Sisters as we remind the Arroyo government of its accountability to the economic and political crises in Mindanao:"At the table of peace is food and justice!"

 

-- From the statement on the war in Mindanao issued by the Promotion of Church People's Response (PCPR)

 

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The Moro people have had it with all-out wars!
Make Room for Peace, Pull-out troops in Basilan

For most of us Muslims who are observing the peace negotiations between the Government of the  Republic of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, we are saddened by what is  happening in Basilan for the past few weeks.

According to the provincial administrator of Basilan, more than 900 families have been displaced as  a result of the added deployment of marines in Basilan in response to the beheading of 10 members of the Philippine Marines who were slain in an encounter with the MILF in Al-Barkah town.

Who committed the beheading and why did the perpetrators committed such act is a very controversial  and sensitive issue that should have been responded with discretion rather than warmongering. For weeks, it is as if every Muslim has to answer for the act of beheading and Islam is once again put  in the limelight and debate.

While the MILF owned their responsibility over the death of the 14 elements of the Philippine Marines. They qualified this as a legitimate one for it was a consequence of the Marines' forced
entry in their recognized political territory in Basilan.

For those who are not familiar with the on-going GRP-MILF peace negotiations, it might be difficult  to understand why such territories exist? In previous agreements, the two groups have come to terms about respecting MILF camps and presence to avoid conflicts in these areas Ė an agreement that is  prone to violation.

Since the signing of the ceasefire agreement, the Philippine government under President Joseph Estrada and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has called a series of all-out wars against the MILF that  resulted to thousands of displaced Moro people in Mindanao: the all-out war directed at Camp  Abubakar in 2001, the Buliok War and "selective attack" on MILF areas in 2003, and the on-and-off skirmishes between the GRP and the MILF as a result of the military's "hot pursuit" operations against the Abu Sayyaf.

In the case of the beheading of the marines, series of investigations have been conducted by both the MILF and the local government of Basilan, and both have unearthed previous atrocity of the Marines that might lead to the answers on who and why such beheadings took place: that the military operation did not take place only on July 10 but days before it and that these created "fear and chaos" among the community.

But nobody from the military and the Arroyo administration wants to hear what the MILF or the people in Basilan has been shouting for almost two weeks now -that the MILF is not responsible for the mutilation of the bodies of the marines.

Secretary Norberto Gonzales and the Armed Forces of the Philippines would hear none of these results and the calls of non-government organizations for a stop to the pursuit operations. The bloodthirsty cabinet members and hawks in the AFP are whipping up the public's sympathy over the beheaded marines and using it as a take-off point in calling for an all-out war against the MILF.Had Fr. Giancarlo Bossi not surfaced in Karumatan, Lanao del Norte, the AFP would surely unrelentlessly pursue the MILF for what they believed as "coddling" Fr. Bossi's kidnappers.

Now, Basilan is once again hostaged by more than 5,000 soldiers mostly coming from the two battalions from the Philippine Marines. The 10\3rd Brigade of the Army, naval and air forces are also being readied for strike.

Most of the people in Basilan are reminded of the 2001 intensive military crackdown, where 14 battalions from the AFP were deployed and in 2002 a US-RP joint military exercise also took place in Basilan.

Basilan had been black and blue from previous military operations and exercises. Numerous human rights violations were reported: cases of torture, extra-judicial killings and disappearance against what the Arroyo administration believed to be Abu Sayyaf sympathizers and members in Basilan.

The people in Basilan fear this will again escalate into an all-out war. And we people of Mindanao fear that this will spill-over the whole of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The Moro people have had it with the all-out wars! If the government is true with peace negotiations then it should prioritize its peace agenda in Mindanao. Even the future of peace
negotiations was not tackled by the government in the SONA. Her praise for the Philippine Marines obscured the human rights violation record of the marines and the rest of the Philippine military in Basilan.

The Suara Bangsamoro reiterates its call for pull-out of the military in Basilan. Let the cool heads and the peacemakers (if there are still left) in the cabinet come forward and listen to the
people's call for peace and not military operations in Basilan.

Amirah Ali Lidasan
Suara Bangsamoro
#12 San Pedro St,, Kimpo Subdivision
Cotabato City
Tel/ No.: 064.421.3057
 

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Torture Victims in Mindanao Speak out

to International Bodies

By Sittie Rajabia Sundang

Human Rights organizations in Mindanao presented cases of torture to an International Human Rights Organization that conducted a Fact Finding Mission in Mindanao held in Lispher Inn, Matina, Davao City on August 20, 2007.

Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao , Kawagib Moro Human Rights organization and Karapatan-Southern Mindanao presented four highlighted cases among the nine cases they submitted to the French based human rights organization FIDH.

Atty. Carlos Isagani Zarate and Atty. Connie Jaime-Brizuela the Union of Peopleís Lawyers in Mindanao (UPLM) were also present during the presentation of cases to assist the victims in legal aspects.

According to Mouloud Boumghar, a jurist specialized in public international law and one of the delegates of the FIDH, the objective of the mission was to examine whether the fight against terrorism in the Philippines is done in the respect of international human rights standards, in particular the absolute prohibition of torture.

Among the highlighted cases presented were the torture cases of two Moro victims from Central Mindanao . One was suspect of bombing of the 2003 Davao Airport and Sasa Wharf the other was accused of being an NPA Amazon.

Gumanod was illegally arrested on July 01, 2003 three months after the bombing incidents. He was accused as member of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Special Operations Group (SOG) allegedly involves in kidnapping, robbery, extortion activities and bombings.
 

 

According to the witnesses and Gumanodís statement, he suffered severe torture during the arrest and interrogation in order to extract information. The combined elements of Military Intelligence Group (MIG 12), ISAFP, Task Force Tugis and Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG ARMM) punched, kicked, punched and slammed him to the electricity post during the arrest of Gumanod.

On the testimony of Gumanodís son Ahmad Abas shared to the FIDH delegate, Mouloud Boumghar that his fatherís head was hit by the arresting agents with heavy object. His fatherís eyes bled when one of them pressed his fatherís eyes when he refused to go with them. Gumanodís case was dismissed on December 2003 due to lack of evidences.

The case of Alibai Musa, 29 years old, a member of Suara Bangsamoro Party list organization and a convenor of Interfaith Youth Initiative for Genuine Peace (IYIGP) was also presented to FIDH. Musa was illegally arrested and accused as member of the revolutionary group New Peopleís Army when they went to Makilala, North Cotabato together with her team for a week-long research on the expansion of banana plantation and its effect to farmers.

Musa said she suffered sexual molestation during the interrogation at the 602nd brigade camp in Carmen, North Cotabato . The military men interrogating Musa hit her hands using cable wire when she denied allegations of the military. Because of this, she was forced to admit that she is a member of the NPA. They filed a case of rebellion against Musa and her fellow researcher. The case is still on going at the Kidapawan court.

Two cases of torture of alleged NPA members were also presented. Cases of rebellion were dismissed.
 

FIDH delegate Boumghar said, they were very thankful for having a substantive dialogue with the victims, lawyers and human rights workers. They will make a report regarding the mission to help the victims bring their cases to the open.###
 

           
More Statements and News Features
           

 

■   PCPR statement on the war in Mindanao

■   NCCP statement on the military offensive in Mindanao

■   KAWAGIB: Stop military operations in Sulu and Basilan!Stop targeting civilians!

■   Fact Sheet Documented by Kawagib Moro Human Rights

■   Basilan warrant of arrest list

■   Basilan warrant of arrest (scanned copy)

■   Stop the terrorist tagging against Moro people!---Kawagib

■   Including 15 Muslim leaders and Ustadz in the warrants of arrest? Who is the source?- Kawagib Moro Human Rights Organization

■   Kabataan Party: GMA turning RP into police state, youth group says; Peaceful solution to Mindanao conflict urged

■   Bayan slams Negroponte visit, US intervention in SE Asia

■   Bayan questions presence of US Special Forces in Sulu fighting

■   Tell that to the Marines - by Dr. Carol Araullo

 

 

■   The crux of the Moro problem - by Dr. Carol Araullo

■   Pursuit Operations in Sulu Trigger AFP-MNLF Clash - from Bulatlat

■   Abu Sayyaf in Basilan: A deadly redux - from Davao Today

■   MILF, troops in heaviest fighting in months - from Davao Today

■   No need for all-out war to crush small bandit group - PCPR, Aug. 24, 2007

■   GMA, Esperon: partners in crimes - Hello Garci in 2004, All-out War in 2007 - PCPR statement

■   Kawagib: GRPís Postponement of Peace Talk with the MILF shows insincerity in addressing Mindanao Problem

■   Ecumenical and Inter-faith Groups Call for a Stop to All-out War in Mindanao, Calls Senate to Investigate Allegations of Sen. Trillanes

■   Religious groups call for end to war in the south

■   CPP condemns AFP for abuse of Moro children. CPP Information Bureau Press Release. August 27, 2007

■   CPP condemns US involvement in combat operations. CPP Information Bureau Press Release. August 15, 2007

 

           
More photos courtesy of PCPR
           
     
     
   

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