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By O. S. Miharbi

Is Ethnic Cleansing Possible In Mindanaw?

FAR BEYOND MINDANAW SEA in the not too distant past, the American Muslims – men and women alike as well as the old and the young – gathered one day in Chicago, USA, to discuss and to condemn the ugliest issue of that day. Ethnic cleansing of the Bosnian Muslims by the Christian Serbians right in the heart of Europe!

In truth, although it came too late, the condemnation of ethnic cleansing – the ugly forms of burying alive Bosnian Muslims (the aged, women and children), raping wantonly Bosnian women right in their sanctified homes, killing any Bosnian Muslim on sight and resulting to any horrible and despicable acts in order to drive them away from their sacred homes and homeland – was welcomed by every civilized community of the world. Except, of course, by the modern Hitlers – the Christian Serbians, who were spearheaded by their leader Sloban Milosovich, who is now facing his day in the international tribunal being charged with genocide and abuse of human rights.

In the contemporary history of the world, the shocking human crime that is ethnic cleaning is quite similar to the past “holocaust” that marked the mass killing of the Jews in Germany by the Hitlerian fanatics. And, alas, what the Jews are presently doing to the Palestinians in their own homeland.

Sadly, only a wicked mind like that of Adolph Hitler can commit this heinous crime and become proud of it. And only the abusive Jews can do this kind of injustice to the Palestinian Arabs and get away with it.

Thus, the Chicago meeting of Muslims from all over the United States of America did help to awaken the consciousness of humanity on the ugliest side of ethnic cleansing. In truth, this was one pivotal factor that moved the free world to act to do what it did – save and protect the Bosnians from mass slaughter and possible extinction from the hands of the Serbians.

By leading all the way to uphold justice and to bring about peace and order in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the U.S. initiative made all the peoples of the free world proud and contented.

Significantly, the condemnation of the Chicago conference on ethnic cleansing did not only end in Bosnia and in the other parts of the former Yugoslavia as well as in Palestine that has had led to the tragic diaspora of the Arabs over the wicked hands of the Jews.

The historic Chicago Assembly also passed judgement on ethnic cleansing in Mindanaw, particularly under the Philippine Marcos government.

Clearly, the American Muslim delegates were unanimous to point out that the “Moros of Mindanaw were subjected to ethnic cleansing by their Christian oppressors”.

Indeed, is ethnic cleansing possible in Mindanaw?

Of course, the judgement of the auspicious Chicago conference cannot be disputed. Neither can it be taken lightly. It has to be given serious thought because the Bangsamoro problem or Mindanaw conflict or the Filipino-Moro war is far from over. Just like the once Bosnian dilemma and the Palestine question, the Mindanaw problem needs concrete solution. Although a correct solution is long over due, yet this is now imperative.

How was ethnic cleansing possible in Mindanaw?

It was unfortunate that the word “ethnic cleansing” was not put to use while the ethnic nationalities of Mindanaw – the Moros and Highlanders – were subjected to systematic extinction from their native lands.

Had there been a free press during the turbulent period of the minoritization and bastardization of the natives of Mindanaw by the piratical western colonizers and eventually by the homegrown oppressors- Filipino colonizers- it could have been revealed as the same nightmare experience, or even worse, like what happened to the Bosnian Muslims in Europe.

Aptly put, the unabated genocidal wars waged by the piratical Spanish and American colonizers and later on by their colonial inheritors upon the aboriginal inhabitants of Mindanaw to land-grab their ethnic lands and to reduce them to extinction was no less “ethnic cleansing” in today’s language.

Why was this possible?

Mindanaw – as all responsible historians have had acknowledged – was a free sovereign nation before the coming of the Spanish buccaneers. The Bangsamoro Sultanate State was strategically rich and prosperously peaceful. Because of the natural blessings endowed by the Divine Providence over Mindanaw, this made the Sultanate rulers and native inhabitants zealous to safeguard the island’s tranquility and riches.

Thus, when the megalomaniac Spanish aggressors, who had to sustain their ugly wars in Europe for the sake of political and economic survival, invaded repeatedly Mindanaw to rob the natives of their belongings and prosperity, the Moros and other ethnic tribes had to defend their homeland.

The Spanish-Moro wars of attrition lengthily lasted for 333 years, yet the piratical Spanish invaders used their most superior armaments to annihilate the native defenders of the Bangsamoro homeland.

In the end days of the closing 1890s, albeit unable to conquer the Bangsamoro freedom fighters and other ethnic defenders, the Spanish pirates, who were to surrender to American supremacy in the Treaty of Paris of September 10, 1898, hoodwinked still America to believe that Mindanaw was part of their conquered domain.

Thus, together with Filipe – the Spanish given name to the land of the Indios (inhabitants of the islands now called Luzon and Visayas) in honor of King Philip II, and later on changed to Filipinas (Philippines) – the piratical Spanish conquistadores sold Mindanao to the Americans for 20 million Mexican dollars.

Under the American depredations, the ethnic nationalities of Mindanao time and again defended the sovereignty and independence of their ancestral homeland.

While the Indios, who later on adopted to be called Filipinos, of Luzon and Visayas eventually surrendered totally to American rule, the ethnic communities of Mindanao fought fiercely the western invaders to the very end.

The historians noted this violent era as the American-Moro war period that even contributed to the invention by the Americans of a caliber .45 pistol because the 38-caliber firearm could not just easily kill a courageous Moro freedom fighter.

Cleverly hiding their piratical motive in the beginning, the American invaders unilaterally established the so-called Moro Province to appease the Mindanawan natives and to avoid any immediate violent confrontation with them.

However, after systematically and easily erasing half-hearted resistance from the Indios-converted-Filipinos in Luzon and Visayas, led by Emilio Aguinaldo, who masterminded the killing of Andres Bonifacio and sought the help of the Bangsamoro Sultanate government of Sulu but was diplomatically rejected, the American aggressors gradually declared violent war on the ethnic nationalities and callously ransacked Mindanaw.

Tragically, the systematic ethnic cleansing of the Mindanao natives did not only end during the attempted American colonization. Worse, it extended far beyond when the Bangsamoro people came face to face with the colonial strategy employed by the Americans to subdue the aboriginal Indians of the West that eventually led to the latter’s extinction as a free sovereign nation.

Coupled with the colonial trademark of ‘divide and rule’ scheme and the carrot and stick policy, the American depredators maneuvered to deceive the Moro Sultanate rulers to gain their friendship and support, but on the other hand waged genocidal war over the Bangsamoro masses to crush any form of resistance against American hegemony in Mindanaw.

Deeply penetrating the heartland of Moroland, the American invaders encouraged Christian settlers from Luzon and Visayas to land-grab ethnic lands in the “Moro Province”, reducing gradually the ancestral domain of the natives.

Worst, inspired by the extinction of the aboriginal red skin Indians in America, the piratical American invaders pushed hard to cleanse ethnically Mindanaw of any Moro sovereignty. Instead, the American buccaneers shrewdly schemed to “Indioisize or Filipinize” the Moros and everything in Mindanaw, disregarding altogether the on-going native protests and scourge of the American-Moro conflict as well as the impending hostilities between the prospective oppressed ethnic nationalities and their homegrown oppressors.

Thus, no thanks to the piratical American expedition, ethnic cleansing in Mindanao continued to take its toll until today!

Proving the Chicago Assembly right, the ethnic cleansing of the Muslims in Mindanao became uglier after the immoral annexation of Moroland in July 4, 1946 by the American-made Republic of the Philippines.

Hence, the Chicago concern on ethnic cleansing in Mindanaw was both timely and an eye-opener.

Today, the Filipino-Moro conflict is still pestering both the oppressors and the oppressed!

It can only worsen if the solution conceived by the oppressors is akin to that of Hitler’s and Milosovich’s. Or those of the war-freak Jews, like Moshe Dayan and Benyamin Nathanyahu and now Ariel Sharon.

On the other hand, the Filipinos and the Moros can’t forever live as co-annihilators. Surely, they are better off permanent friendly neighbors. They owe this to their children and their grandchildren.

The sad lessons of the tragic past have to be learned that brute force can’t achieve respect and peace.

It can only create bitterest enemies divided forever by hatred and animosity.

In recent history, this saddest experience was proven true by the case of East Timor and her colonizers. Only until a real definite denouement was conceived and correctly implemented.

In the final analysis, the American-made “imperial Manila” and the Moro victims should not lost sight of this stark reality!

However, are the Filipino colonizers and the colonized Bangsamoro people capable of achieving permanent peace without resulting to continuous war of genocide and ethnic cleansing?




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