Rebels Criticize Manila Over Illegal Arrest, Human Rights Violations Of Muslims, ArabsApril 5, 2008 at 4:17 pm | Posted in 1 | Leave a comment
MAGUINDANAO, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 05, 2008) – The Philippines’ largest Muslim rebel group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, has criticized Manila for what it called a “witch hunt” in arresting two Jordanian nationals linked by authorities to al-Qaeda and a plot to assassinate President Gloria Arroyo.
The MILF is currently negotiating peace with the Arroyo government, but the talks had been stalled since last year after both sides failed to agree on the scope of the ancestral domain, which is the single most important issue in the peace negotiations before the rebel group can reach a political settlement.
MILF leader Usman Hakim said authorities arrested the two foreigners in separate operations in Manila last month and deported them only Friday on charges not related to terrorism, but on violations of the immigration laws.
He was referring to Khalil Al-Ali and Walid Abu Aisheh, who were deported by the Bureau of Immigration to Jordan for working in the Philippines without permits.
“Filipino Muslims and Arabs are always being targeted by the authorities every time they will come up with fake intelligence reports and all these always coincide in every huge anti-Arroyo rallies.”
“They always blame the Muslims as if we are all criminals and terrorists, just like what is happening in Basilan and Sulu and in central Mindanao where Muslims are arrested on mere suspicion or false intelligence reports that they are terrorists or supporters of MILF. There is no respect for human rights for Muslims in the Philippines,” Hakim told the Mindanao Examiner on Saturday.
The two Jordanian men were also linked by the Filipino authorities in an alleged plot to bomb foreign embassies in Manila.
Philippine police chief Avelino Razon had announced their arrests the same day as huge anti-Arroyo protesters gathered in the capital to demand for the President’s resignation over corruption allegations.
“We have arrested a foreigner suspected of plotting terror attacks, including an assassination on the president,” Razon said.
The Philippine military previously said that the Abu Sayyaf, Jemaah Islamiya and the communist New People’s Army rebels and MILF are plotting to bomb civilian targets in Manila and it was announced ahead of another anti-Arroyo protests in Manila.
Lawyer Floro Balato, Jr., the Philippine immigration spokesman, said the two foreigners were ordered deported because they overstayed in the country and worked without the necessary permits.
“As far as the Bureau of Immigration is concerned, the two Jordanians violated our laws and that is why we have them deported to Jordan,” he said in a separate interview.
It was unknown why police and military did not file charges against the foreigners for violating the anti-terrorism law since security officials announced the duo was plotting to kill Arroyo and attack embassies in Manila.
In December last year, Filipino authorities also arrested an Egytian cleric, Mohammad Said, who also uses the aliases Mohammad Sayed and Abu Husein, in Cotabato City in Mindanao on allegation that he is an al-Qaeda operative.
Soldiers allegedly recovered from his apartment several improvised explosive devices, including a book with Arabic texts fitted with bomb from its hollowed pages; detonating cords, alarm clocks, batteries, 60mm mortar rocket, high-explosive ammunition, 3 pounds of chemical believed to be explosives, two kilos of ball bearings to be used as shrapnel for an IED, and a booklet of MILF combat manual.
Said, who denied all allegations against him, was later freed after Egyptian officials threatened to file diplomatic protest over the cleric’s arrest, saying, he was innocent.
Several Turkish and Middle Eastern nationals were also arrested in Mindanao over the last five years and many of them were either released without charges or deported.
Muslim human rights groups also criticized the police and military for using so-called “terrorists” hysteria every time there are anti-Arroyo street protests.
The Suara Bangsamoro, an umbrella organization of human rights and civil society groups, said the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines have been making pronouncements about impending attacks by the local Abu Sayyaf and the Jemaah Islamiya, an Indonesian terror group tied to a string of bombings in Jakarta and Manila.
“We cannot anymore stomach the use of the police and military the ‘terrorist’ hysteria in a bid to make Arroyo look like a target of terrorist killing in the midst of a mammoth interfaith rally calling for her resignation,” Amirah Lidasan, national president of the Suara Bangsamoro, said.
Opposition and civil society groups demanded Arroyo’s resignation after the president and her husband, Jose Miguel Arroyo were both linked to alleged scandals involving the flawed and overpriced national broadband network deal with China’s ZTE Corporation.
The president admitted the deal was flawed and canceled the contract five months later after the scandal broke out. She and husband denied any wrongdoings. (Mindanao Examiner)