Moro Groups Lead Rights Day, Assail RP’s Violation Records

December 12, 2007 at 5:49 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment

Suara Bangsamoro’s Amira Lindasan speaks during a human rights forum and Muslim women put their handprints on a sign which reads “Stop Attacking The Moro People.” (Photos by Suara Bangsamoro)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – The Suara Bangsamoro and the Kawagib Moro Human Rights Organization led the commemoration of the 59th year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) in different cities in Mindanao.

Suara Bangsamoro also presented a report on violations of human rights against the Bangsamoro people in Cotabato City on Dec. 4; Davao City on Dec. 6 and held a simultaneous forum Dec. 10 in Iligan, Zamboanga and General Santos cities.

Despite of the on-going peace negotiations between the Arroyo government and the two Moro liberation fronts in Mindanao, there is still no atmosphere of peace in Mindanao.

The combined anti-terror policies of the US and the Philippine governments virtually give license for state agents to disregard the civil and political rights of the Moro people, it said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner on Wednesday.

Suara Bangsamoro added the Moro people continue to face a militarized community, most of them becoming more vulnerable with the deployment of massive government forces and foreign troops in their communities. According to the Armed Forces of the Philippines, three marine brigades were deployed only in pursuit of “Muslim militants”.

Combined with four marine battalions, three infantry battalions, a scout ranger battalion, a special force battalion and a light reaction company, roughly more than ten thousand government troops are dispersed in the Moro communities. Kawagib Moro Human Rights, on the other hand, documented at least 20 human rights violations committed by the Philippine government against the Moro people.

Almost 78,000 Moro individuals were displaced due to indiscriminate bombings and strafing in their communities as a consequence of President Gloria Arroyo’s declaration of full-launch war in the Moro areas.

According to Kawagib, Moro civilians bear the brunt in the military operations against the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front. Children also fall prey to the hot pursuit operations against Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiya militants.

Following the high profile case of Almujayal Padiwan, a Tausug boy, who survived the massacre of his family in Maimbung town in Sulu province in February 2005. Eight kids were also reported to have been psychologically tortured by the army in Indanan town in Sulu last August.

A 14-year old boy was also shot and killed in April in the same municipality. Hakim Abilul’s cousin was the only survivor in the shooting and told the family that he and Hakim went past a military unit that mistook them for being an Abu Sayyaf and started shooting at them.

Abilul’s mother then visited all military camps in Jolo and Indanan but the military denied they had the boy in custody. They found the remains of the boy in a morgue with bite marks and a big hole in the shoulder.

Disruption of school activity also resulted due to intense military operations in Basilan this year. Eleven schools became non-operational for five months in the municipalities of Al-barka, Unkaya Pukan and Tipo-Tipo as more than four hundred schoolchildren fear going back to their communities because or the military operations.

Kawagib has documented several cases of extrajudicial killing, death due to indiscriminate firing, frustrated killing, massacre, torture, physical assault or injuries as a consequence of the military operations.

The violation to the civil and political rights of the Moro people are often disregarded because of the impact of the “war on terror” on the views and opinions of the public on the Moro people. There were several cases of illegal arrests, detention and search and seizure documented by Kawagib in their report on the violations on the human rights of the Moro people.

Threat, harassment and intimidation on Moro activists and religious leaders were also part of the violations on the Moro people. On December 10 last year, the names of Moro activists belonging to Suara Bangsamoro, Kawagib ang Lira ng Kabataan Moro were written in streamers displayed in the main roads and highways of Cotabato City and Misdeal, North Cotabato calling them terrorists and their organizations as communist fronts.

Religious leaders in Basilan and Sulu are often targeted as possible Abu Sayyaf or MILF members and sympathizers. Fifteen Ustadz (religious leaders) were included in the warrant of arrest issued last July against those who were suspected of beheading 10 elements of Marines in Basilan.

A leader of the Ulama Council for Peace and Development in Sulu, Ustadz Yahiya Sarahadil Abdullah, protested upon seeing his picture on Rewards for Justice Recognition Handbook being distributed by Filipino and American troops in Talipao, Sulu.

His picture was used to identify Yassir Igasan, which according to intelligence reports was the chosen leader of the ASG after Khadaffy Janjalani’s death last year.

The leaders of the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front were also tagged as local criminals as warrants of arrests were issued against them for the cases of unresolved bombings in Mindanao this year.

According to Suara Bangsamoro, implicating Ustadz Khabier Malik of the MNLF and Al-Hajj Murad of the MILF is undermining the current peace negotiation and makes the people question the sincerity of the Arroyo administration in the peace talks.

Suara Bangsamoro laments the conditions of the Moro people and also added that the presence of foreign troops will worsen their conditions. There are an undetermined number of US soldiers from the air force, marines and the army doing a medical mission and other civic activities program in public but also involve themselves in covert combat operations that often affects the areas of the MNLF and the MILF.

Next year another round of Balikatan military exercises will resume in different parts of Moro provinces. Added to this is the possible training of Australian troops as a commitment of the Arroyo administration in the Status of Forces Agreement it signed this year with the Australian Government.

Suara Bangsamoro lambastes the government form turning Moro communities into a den of live targets for the “war on terror” military exercises of local and foreign troops. It also accuses the government of disregarding the lives of the Moro people and reiterates that her administration is no bringer of peace to the Moro community, only death.


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