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
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
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
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
#12 San Pedro St,, Kimpo Subdivision
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,
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
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.
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
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
Two cases of torture of alleged NPA members were also presented. Cases of
rebellion were dismissed.
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