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Speech of Prof. Nur Misuari
During the Consultative Assembly Meeting
in Zamboanga City
on November 29-30, 1999


          Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.

Brothers and sisters, our distinguished brother H.E. Ambassador Abu Hartono and his  collegues, assalamu alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu.

          After listening to his Excelllecy’s speech before us here, many thing have been clarified. The vital importance to us in his speech was the enlightenment he tried to give to us with respect to the treatment of the government of Indonesia towards its minority group.  As I could read from his speech, he mentioned one example like the Hindus who constitute barely one percent but there is no government in Indonesia that does not have a Hindu Minister.

We here in the Philippines, we have always been proud of being a democratic society. But with respect to the minority people like us, there is no such thing as democracy. There is a dictatorship. The relationship between the majority and the minority is one of dictatorship. Can you imagine in the country like Indonesia while you have a Catholic General in the person of Gen.  Muldani not to say of Gen. Panggabian before, who was  wielding  the most powerful position in the government next only to the President. He’s a Catholic and the Catholics are barely less than 10% including the Protestants together. Panggabian was a Protestant. From ERIANBARAKS, H.E.(Hartono) has told me there is a 4 star general from ERIANBARAKS and so with Aceh. This is real democracy. And the proposition to give them, broad and wide ranging autonomy should be equaled here in Mindanao.

Before we used to criticize Indonesia, especially during the time of the late President Sukarno. We said that he was acting as if he had all the power on his hands. We always loved to criticize him, we here in the Philippines as if the people did not enjoy any rights at all. But here in the Philippines, because we don’t have representation in the Philippine Senate, out of 24 Senators there is no one single Muslim Senator, no single highland Senator. In the cabinet of H.E. President Estrada and the previous one, no single Muslim, no single indigenous leader. In the Supreme Court, (cosum?), zero and in the Court of Appeals, there are only two and they are retiring in December next month. In fact, I’m already invited to a farewell party of these gentlemen, so we’ll have (cosum?) again. And so on and so forth, we have no representation and we are always saying that “this is a democratic country.” To me as I have always said, yes maybe democracy among those who monopolize state power particularly the people of Luzon with due respect to our friends, those who could understand us in our predicament here. But democracy with  respect to the minority, this is (cosum?) this is zero because there can be no democracy without representation of the people.

The 13 columnists organized themselves in defiance of their mother country, the empire of Great Britain and overthrew the colonial yoke and they became independent. They just declared one very very simple principle, they said “no taxation without participation”. We can say here in Mindanao, no taxation without representation can be re-echoed here, that was how many centuries ago. We thought we have been learning, what democracy is like. We are happy to say in the universities that we have a representative kind of democracy. Is there any representation on our part in the Senate, in the Office of the President, in the Supreme Court and so on and so forth, nothing. Is this democracy? Where is representative democracy there?

 Indonesia has just emerged from the turbulence of their past, now they’re able to give example to the outside world. The Armed Forces of Indonesia is 500,000 strong, almost as big as the total population of East Timor but look, they have given independence. They are now on a transitional period. They could have wiped them out to the last man. In Aceh now they are offering them. Earlier H.E. (Hartono) was telling me not only 50% maybe 75%, maybe, that’s negotiable. And I’m very happy to note that the information that we gathered yesterday which was subject of a brief deliberation in our session here has been confirmed by H.E. (Hartono) that indeed brother Gus Dur wants us to visit our brothers in Aceh to help assuage them not necessarily persuade them but assuage them, to quite - - - their soul and to tell them our experiences here.

The Aceh-Sumatra Liberation Movement has no comparison to our strength here, it’s between heaven and earth. (TINGKO DITEROS?) is like a brother to me, we used to eat together and so with most of the cadri officers of this movement. Now look,  because Indonesia has become so flexible and so tolerant because of the wise kind of leadership they have, leadership base on the recognition of the fundamental rights of the people which is the essence of democracy and which is enshrined in the charter of the United Nation and in many Resolutions of the General Assembly of the United Nation and also enshrined in the Charter of the Arab League of the Organization of African Unity and of course in the Islamic Charter of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, “recognition of the fundamental rights of the people.” This is the highest law of the universe today. But here in this so-called democratic country, the best we could expect is a lip service acceptance. Because they want to maintain the hegemony over everything. They don’t want to recognize our fundamental rights. All what we get is nothing but lip service.

I fought for more than twenty years of my most precious part of my life and I entered into this Peace Agreement in behalf of my brothers and the Gausbaobog  of the MNLF of the Bangsamoro Jihad Fi Sabilillah hoping that we could use autonomy as an instrument for ending the war and inaugurating the era of durable and lasting  peace in Mindanao. But until now it is sad to note that the idea of genuine autonomy is as illusive to me as illusive as ever. My heart is restless, because I am not so sure just exactly what is in the store for us in the forth coming referendum which they want to stampede through their electoral process. They want to produce wrong and bad result. That’s why they are in hurry to have that referendum so that they can dictate on the outcome of that referendum.

 They want us to have a referendum so that the people will count us down because we have not yet produce anything visible let alone beneficial to the people. How can you expect them to support us in the referendum? Referendum is a suicidal on our part. I would rather go back to war than to have a referendum here. Unless I’m satisfied that that referendum will deliver genuine autonomy to our people there will be no referendum in Mindanao, Insha Allah. They have violated our Peace Agreement, time and again we can not accept another violation, never. I will stick my life with this. I will not allow anyone to humiliate us through their dirty electoral process. So I would like this message to be sent to all corners of the country in the presence of H.E. (Hartono). We want to be treated as human beings with honor and dignity. And we want people to comply with the Peace Agreement. If anyone will abuse the Peace Agreement then we reserve the right to say goodbye to that Peace Agreement. So I hope I captured the sentiment of our people . We have maligned for so long. We have been abused for so long despite the fact that we have been fighting for over 400 years of our lives still people can not understand  what we stand for. It’s about time that we open their eyes and their ears and their conscience.

I am saying this in the presence of our brother here, so that when H.E. will return home he will not misunderstand us and Indonesia in his capacity as Chairman of the Ministerial Committee of the Six will not misunderstand us either. Through Indonesia, I would like to plea with our brothers in the Islamic world, 56 Muslim countries representing 1.5 billion of the population of the world and all our brothers and friends in Africa, non-Islamic Africa and Europe and all those, we ask them to understand us. We have sacrificed everything in order to comply with the wise judgement and advises of the Organization of Islamic Conference. But until now dear brothers, I am sorry to say that I don’t see any sign of fulfillment of the obligation of their government to produce genuine autonomy for us. Without genuine autonomy for us the Peace Agreement can not survive for one single moment. We can accept to become part of this country only if we are treated properly, that they recognize our fundamental rights just like all other Filipinos that we are not treated as if we are third class citizens or no class at all. How in the world could we accept a Senate without a Muslim, how in the world could we accept an executive office without a Muslim or a highlander there. How can we accept the Armed Forces without a single general from the highlanders and the Muslims. I have been pleading with them. There are more than a hundred generals, not one is a Muslim and not one is a Highlander. Why? Because until now they don’t trust us because they don’t take us as a part of the country. They only want to govern us and occupy our lands and to expropriate our resources. We cannot be keeping all of these in our hearts we must tell so that they will not blame us. And I don’t want also anyone to provoke any war in Mindanao. Our people have suffered too much and too much is too much. We should not allow ourselves, our people, we should not expose them to the vagaries, to the whims and caprices of those generals who want to get new star at the cost of the lives of the people and the people of Mindanao as a whole.

I want change, change in the attitude. Now  they have prepared, I think they have organized a constitutional group to study the constitution. And there is no single Muslim, let alone a Highlander in this group. They are repeating the mistake of former Pres. Corazon Aquino when she formed the constitutional commission. I was touring around Mindanao, we were at the height of our peace process suddenly came the pronouncement from here, constitutional commission to be composed of 50 people were to be formed. And they did. And I was asked Mr. Chairman in a big meeting attended by thousands and thousands of people, how do you react to the formation. I said I don’t recognize this constitutional commission nor do I recognize the constitution that will come from them. How can you recognize when you are not participating at all or you are not allowed to participate. They just make the constitution and impose it. Ram it down our throat. They just ram it down our throat to show that there is really no democracy in this country for us. If there is no democracy for us there is no future for us. No future for us.

So I thank H.E. for this important message because for a long time now we have been keeping this sentiment in our heart and I hope the country will awaken to this. So once again excellency, on behalf of your brothers here, we thank you and your colleagues, and this evening Insha Allah, we will manifest in our humble and modest way our sense of gratitude to you. I know you don’t need it but we need it because Rasullah Sallawahi Wassalam was quoted as saying “La yashkurullah man la yashkurunnas”, he who does not  grateful to his Creator if he is not grateful to his fellow being. This is the guideline for us. Thank you for listening to me.#   


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 The November 26, 2001 ARMM Election
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Copyright 2001 by MNLF, Cotabato City