Protests against the US-RP Balikatan Exercises
in Marawi City and Quezon City
February 18, 2008
|◄▲Protest rally in Mindanao State University, Marawi City|
|▲Picket rally at Camp Aguinaldo, Quezon City|
US Troops Out Now!-Lanao Coalition
21 February 2008
For reference: Kristian Mark Urbano, Public Information Officer (0928-3988-908)
US Ambassador Kenney, the best humanitarian assistance you can give us is to pull-out your troops
We would like to rebut the points raised by U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Kristie Kenney in an interview with RMN-DXIC 5pm of February 20, 2008.
Ambassador Kenney said the deployment of U.S. soldiers in the two Lanao provinces is for no other reason but to carry out the planned “humanitarian missions”. War games are only to be performed in parts of Luzon. They chose Lanao del Sur and Lanao del Norte to be among the beneficiaries of their “humanitarian missions” because of the large number of people who are deprived of access to the government’s medical and other social services.
And we say: US troops are benevolent by day and monsters by night.
Remember the case of Sgt. Reggie Lane who joined medical missions at daylight and shot the farmer Buyong-Buyong Isnijal that tragic night of July 27, 2002 in Tuburan, Basilan. Who can forget Cpl. Daniel Smith and company for raping “Nicole”, concealed in the darkness of November 2005?
We remain suspicious of the sincerity of these “humanitarian missions”, given the long history of these supposed humanitarian missions in Mindanao where covert operations were carried out. The US military will use this “humanitarian missions” as a way to gather information and spy on the communities. They want to befriend the local populace, use the “humanitarian mission” as a form of psychological warfare to deceive the people and accept the long-term US military objective. Who can forget the “humanitarian missions” in Vietnam which concluded to a ruthless attack against the Vietnamese?
Ambassador Kenney stressed they will perform the Balikatan Exercises in the two provinces with total respect to the culture, traditions and sensitivities especially of the Bangsamoro people.
And we say: US troops are perennial attackers of dignity and butchers of the Moro people.
Ambassador Kenney’s rhetorics cannot erase from our people’s collective memories the Bud Dajo and Bud Bagsak massacres, and the 400,000 Filipinos killed in the American colonial period. How many mosques were destroyed, religious leaders and believers killed in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere in the name of the US “war-on-terror?” How many more Ustadz, as in the case of Ustadz Yahiya Sarahadil of Sulu, will be charged and paraded as a member of Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya, to generate public opinion, that, yes we need US troops in Mindanao?
Ambassador Kenney underscored that Mindanao is the focus of U.S. investments and development plans, considering the rich resources found in the island.
And we say this again: The US has been in the country for a century—imposing its hegemony over our socio-economic and political life—and gave us the hardest days of our lives.
The entry of U.S. investments in Mindanao would never for the benefit the island’s inhabitants, knowing that U.S. foreign economic policies only tend to serve its own self-serving interests. They are interested of our natural gas, and the development of transhipment hubs in Lanao.
Finally, we regard the US military’s humanitarian missions as a huge slap to the Arroyo Administration. It is an admission to the Government’s inability to provide its people, especially the inhabitants of Mindanao, with the most basic social services.
The US Troops Out Now – Lanao Coalition stands firm on its position calling for an end to the Balikatan Exercises in Mindanao, be it in the form of war games or humanitarian missions. More so, we demand for the ouster of Mrs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo for utter puppetry to US imperialism.
US Troops Out Now! – Lanao Coalition strongly believes that the best humanitarian assistance the U.S. Government can offer to the peoples of Mindanao, and the Filipinos in general, is for them to pull-out their troops and to put an end to U.S. intervention in the Philippines.
Down with US imperialism! Down with the US-Arroyo regime!.
Mindanao State University
Marawi Students Rally led by Liga ng Kabataang Moro (LKM-Lanao) and League of Filipino Students (LFS-MSU) inside the Mindanao State University Campus, Islamic City of Marawi
Photos courtesy of Liga ng Kabataang Moro
20 February 2008
Moro Human Rights group slams MOU of Balikatan
in Lanao del Sur
Kawagib Moro Human Rights Organization raised criticism on the Memorandum of Understanding signed by police, military officials and local officials in Lanao del Sur says that it is not an assurance that human rights violations will not occur with the holding of Balikatan exercises.
“We criticize the agreement, specifically the provision that restricts groups from conducting rallies or other activities construed as obstructing the conduct of the humanitarian activities,” said Sittie Rajabia Sundang, secretary-general of Kawagib Moro Human Rights.
Sundang says that freedom of expression of Lanao residents and peace advocates who are against the holding of Balikatan Exercises and the presence of US soldiers in their communities should be upheld and respected by the local leaders in Lanao del Sur.
Sundang also says that protests against Balikatan exercises will continue despite of the agreement because trails of human rights violations have followed each Balikatan exercises in Moro communities.
Previous US-RP joint military exercises showed US soldiers being involved in both medical missions and combat missions such as case of Sgt. Reggie Lane , a US soldier accused of leading a combat mission in Tuburan, Basilan who shot and wounded a Moro resident in July 27, 2002.
Sgt Lane brought Buyung-Buyung Isnijal to the local hospital and was identified by the doctor who treated Isnijal who saw him participating in the medical missions in Lamitan and Tuburan during the six-month long Balikatan program in Basilan.
Incidents such as this does not allay our fear that the primary purpose of balikatan exercises is combat training while the civic activities such as medical, dental and engineering missions are the sweeteners for the community to accept the presence of US soldiers in Moro areas.
According to Sundang, the presence of 47 US soldiers including the local police and Filipino troops is still an added deployment of military troops in Moro areas that they tagged as havens of terrorists.
Sundang believes that the reason US soldiers chose Moro communities such as Lanao del Sur as the venue of their Balikatan exercises, whether humanitarian or military exercises of nature, is because they believed that terrorists reside in our communities and that their primary mission is to eliminate these terrorists and their supporters.
“If they really want peace to reign in Moro communities, the government should stop sending military troops in our areas, whether foreign of Filipino troops and stop making our communities as target practice,” said Sundang.
Kawagib reiterates its calls for the investigation of reported cases of human rights violation committed by US soldiers during Balikatan exercises and give justice to the victims.#
Sittie Rajabia Sundang
Email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
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