Monday, June 30, 2008

The Moment I Wake Up!

Don't Bomb Civilian Communities -- CSO

I am a resident of Jolo, Sulu. All my life, I had never been interested in politics. Being a Muslim, I am slightly fatalistic by nature. “What the hell,” I say, “as long as I can satisfy my hungry stomach three times a day and have a simple normal life, then to hell with all the sufferings around the world!”

But my recent involvement in a Civil Society Organization makes me furious about what the military is doing to my native place. The CSO assigned me to visit some areas of conflict in Sulu like (a) Ipil, Maimbung; (b) Marang, Indanan; and (c) Sitio Tandu Pukut, Indanan.

In these places, I realized that there are atrocities committed by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against my beloved Sulu and its people.

All in the name of their pursuit of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), they are actually destroying the lives of the civilians, incapacitating them to have an honest and productive living. Let me explain.

First, in Ipil, Maimbung, the AFP assaulted sleeping civilians killing eight people, including a woman and children on February 04, 2008. They said that the operation was legitimate, a result of five months of surveillance activities to rescue the kidnapped victim, Rosalinda Lao. But the AFP did not find the ASG.

Second, in Marang, Indanan last April 30, the AFP’s bombardment of a place a kilometer away from the Moro National Liberation Front’s (MNLF) Camp Marang displaced thousands of civilians. They even pointed to a civilian’s house as being a “bomb-making factory” of the ASG. The strike that they conducted did not kill any ASG member. It was only successful in instilling fear among the civilians. It could also be just a mere provocation for MNLF soldiers to fight so that Chairman Nur Misuari would be thrown back to jail.

Lastly, in Sitio Tandu Pukut, Indanan on June 15, 2008, the AFP sent four rocket launcher grenade and 23 howitzer cannons to a civilian community. Their purported aim was to decimate the ASG in nearby Subah Timahu. Sulu Governor Abdulsakur Tan had actually given permission to the AFP to conduct the bombardment. When we went to the area, I realized that it was not the ASG that they intimidated, but the woman and children and other civilians in the area.

I have documentation to prove these atrocities.

As I interviewed the civilian victims, I almost cried with dismay. Their small farms were destroyed; their coconut and banana trees uprooted; their fishing boats reduced to smithereens. The fear and shock in women’s and children’s eyes were evident.

So, what is the AFP’s business here in Sulu? Do they really want the Tausug to have peace? They are the Peacekeepers, they say. Moreover, are the Tausug politicians concerned about the welfare of their constituents? What have they done to alleviate the poor people’s sufferings and miseries?

If the Tausug people do not unite to have a one strong voice against the connivance of these people in power, I don’t know what would become of our race.

Posted by Bulatlat

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