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SPEECH OF PROF. NUR MISUARI,

CHAIRMAN OF THE CENTRAL COMMITTEE

OF THE NATIONAL MORO LIBERATION FRONT TO BE READ BEFORE 29TH ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OF FOREIGN MINISTERS FROM JUNE 25-27, 2002 AT KHARTOUM, SUDAN

 

 

Assalamu Alaikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatuh.

 

Mr. Chairman, His Excellency the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Sudan, Foreign Ministers of the Fraternal Muslim States who are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), delegates from observer organizations and other participants. 

 

It is with deep regret that I am not standing before you today in this Islamic country hosting the 29th Islamic Conference of Foreign Ministers during the most critical period in the 20th and 21st century for the Islamic peoples because of the unfortunate tragedy which is now known as 9-11 when Arab suicide bombers exploded the World Trade Organization Twin Towers in New York City and the partial destruction of the Pentagon - the twin symbols of the economic and politico-military power of the United States of America. 

 

The United States as a consequence has declared a war on terror or terrorism, which has targeted mostly Muslim countries and we are affected in the Philippines with the imposed presence of thousands of US Troops in the Zamboanga and Basilan and they are now participating in war operations. The ultimate purpose maybe basing facilities to be used in wars against Muslim States.  Recently, last June 7, 2002, the last three hostages of the Abu Sayyaf Group were subject of rescue operations by the Philippine Military and only Gracia Burnham survived while Martin Burnham and Edibora Yap died.  It was claimed by an ally of the President, former Gov. Luis Chavit Singson that the hostages where brought by the Abu Sayyaf Group to Sirawai, Zamboanga del Norte to release them.  Again, the Abu Sayyaf escape the military encirclement and struck on the high seas by hijacking an Indonesian Vessel last June 18, 2002 and kidnapped four Indonesian Marine Officers.  One escaped or abandoned on June 19, 2002.

 

The Muslims are now the poorest in the Philippines although it is supposed to have regional autonomy since 1989 but our poverty level is from 57-65 percent while the national average is 35 percent.  Our areas are also under full militarization from the time of deposed President Estrada, which has displaced almost a million people and compounded by mass expulsion of the

Bangsamoro people staying Sabah, Malaysia who are now added to the unemployed among the Bangsamoro people.  There are hundreds who are being killed every month without any investigation by the Military and Police as merely being suspected as Abu Sayyaf members. 

 

In this connection, the United States’ State Department reports on human rights practices released on March 4, 2002 stated that “The Government generally respected the human rights of citizens; however, there were serious problems in some areas.  Members of the security services were responsible for extra-judicial killings, disappearances, torture, and arbitrary arrest and detention;  there were allegations by human rights groups that these problems worsened as the Government sought to intensify its campaign against the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).  Other physical abuse of suspects and detainees and police corruption remain problems.  The Government’s Commission on Human Rights (CHR), established under the 1987 Constitution, again described the PNP as the worst abuser of human rights, although complaints against the police decreased significantly compared with 2000.  Police leaders at times appeared to sanction extra judicial killings and brutality as expedient means of fighting crime.  The Government increased its efforts to stop military and police abuses; and abuses decreased somewhat.  The PNP took steps to improve respect for human rights within police ranks, and strengthened internal disciplinary measures.  Prison conditions are harsh.” 

 

In the Report on the Sulu Fact-Finding and Medical Mission of April 18-23, 2002, Sulu Province, Philippines with office address at Karapatan National Office, 23-D Mabuhay St., Central District, Diliman, Quezon City composed of the following non-Muslim organizations.

 

Participating Organizations to the Mission

 

AMIHAN  -  Zamboanga del Sur

ANAKBAYAN - Zamboanga del Sur

Bagong Alyansang Makabaya  (BAYAN) -  Cagayan de Oro

BAYAN - Caraga

BAYAN MUNA - Zamboanga del Sur

B.C. Committee on Human Rights in the Philippines (BCCHRP) – Vancouver, Canada

Community-Based Health Services (CBHS) – Misamis Occidental

Concerned Citizens of Sulu (CCS)

Consortium of Christian Organizations for Rurban Development, Inc. (CONCORD)

Ecumenical Movement for Justice and Peace – (EMJP) – Zamboanga del Norte

Franciscan Justice and Peace Office, Order of Franciscan Missionaries, Cebu

FREE BASILAN 73 Committee

Health Action for Human Rights (HAHR)

Humanitarian Alliance against Disaster (HALAD) – Western Mindanao Region

IBON Foundation, Inc.

Iglesia Filipina Independiente (IFI)

Indigenous People’s Organization (IPO) – Zamboanga del Sur

KAPATUT (Moro Human Rights Center)

KARAPATAN Alliance for the Advancement of People’s Rights (National Office)

KARAPATAN - Caraga

KARAPATAN - Northern Mindanao Region

KARAPATAN – Western Mindanao Region

KARAPATAN – Zamboanga del Sur

Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP)

Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) – Caraga

Moro-Christian People’s Alliance (MCPA)

Visayas Institute for Research and Trade Union Education (VIRTUE) – Cebu

Zamboanga Peninsula Health Extension Program

 

(This report was made independent of the Government, the MNLF and the local government in the Muslim areas.  The organizations listed above are mostly Christian and Church Organization) gave these  recommendations  on the war operations against the people of Sulu for the past two years are as follows.

 

CONCLUSIONS

 

1.     It is beyond a doubt that the human rights violations have been perpetrated by the 104th Infantry Battalion of the Philippine Army (under the command of Col. Romeo P. Tolentino), as well as many elements of the Philippine Marines, Navy, and Air Force.  These military elements have shown utter callousness and total disrespect for basic human rights of the civilians.

 

2.     Civilian communities have been the deliberate target of intense military operations throughout the Sulu province.  Apparently, it is part of military strategy to attach civilian communities, which the military sees to be strongholds of either the ASG or Nur Misuari’s bloc of the MNLF.  No distinctions have been made between armed elements and non-combatants.

 

3.     Airpower and artillery bombardment have been excessively used during the military operations, resulting in the unnecessary destruction of private properties, and causing widespread casualties and injuries among civilian populations.

 

4.     Government units, particularly the concerned agencies and local government units, have not adequately responded to the problem of massive attacks against civilians and forced evacuation of residents in areas under military siege.  While sporadic assistance have been provided, the amount of help from the government has not been commensurate to the extent of the victimization of civilian populations.  No concrete, far-reaching programs have been implemented by the government officials to address the problem.  The government has not even provided adequate evacuation centers for the people fleeing the attacks.

 

5.     The military  units have shown no respect for civilian authority in areas where the operations were conducted.  It is common practice for AFP units to inform beforehand the local government units governing in the affected areas before the military operations are conducted.  Yet in Sulu, this does not happen.  The FFM Team as even managed to interview local officials like barangay captains who themselves have been victimized and displaced by the operations.

 

6.     The FFM Team noticed the military’s penchant for burning and destroying civilian houses and infrastructures.  The Team also extensively documented looting of personal belonging and even farm animals by military elements doing the operations in the civilian communities.

 

7.     The relentless and continuous military attacks since the Sipadan incident allowed no time for breathing spell for civilians to at least momentarily recover from the damages and casualties.  The prolonged duration of the war have not allowed the people to at least temporarily recover their farming and sources of  livelihood.

 

8.     The military operations have aggravated the already deplorable economic condition of the people of Sulu.  Sickness and diseases have reached untenable levels, especially in areas of the military operations.  If the military aren’t killing the people through bombardment and strafings, they are killing them through disease and starvation.

 

9.     The people of Sulu have been living under intense fear for their lives due to the military operations.  Because of the extent of destruction and casualties, the people’s intense fear turn into deep resentment of the military and the government it represents.

 

10. In some cases, the military has also shown no respect for the Muslim religious and cultural heritage of the Moro people of Sulu.  The operations have deliberately targeted religious infrastructure and effects, like mosques and Qur’ans.  The attacks have also been executed during times of religious significance, like the Ramadan.

 

In the recommendations of the Fact-Finding Mission it stated that:

 

1.     The AFP should immediately suspend its military assaults in order to give the civilian population a breathing spell from two years of intense military operations.  Military detachments in schools and other public facilities should be immediately dismantled.  Moreover, the  government’s present all-out war strategy in Sulu and the rest of Muslim Mindanao should eventually be discarded in favor of a more comprehensive solution to the Moro people’s struggle for self-determination.

 

2.     Justice must be rendered to the victims of human rights violations

-         Release those wrongfully accused and unjustly detained.

-         Indemnify those who lost their houses, properties and crops and animals

-         Indemnify those who lost their relatives and kin during military operations and pay the medical expenses incurred by those who were wounded during the operations

-         Ensure the safe return of dislocated residents to their communities

-         Implement massive and sustained relief and rehabilitation work among civilian communities harshly affected by military operations in Sulu

 

3.     Perpetrators of human rights violations should be investigated, tried and punished, while victims should be indemnified.  In relation to this Col. Romeo Tolentino should be immediately suspended and replaced as commanding officer of the 104th Brigade, Philippine Army.

 

4.     The Philippine Senate and Lower House, the Commission on Human Rights and other local and international bodies should investigate the rampant violations of human rights in Sulu.

 

5.     Copies of the mission’s final report should be disseminated to the public.

 

 

Mr. Chairman, Your Excellencies, I have been quoting to you reports from the United States and Human Rights / Church Organizations wherein the MNLF or this humble representation has never been accused or blamed for acts of terrorism in all the violence that was forced on our people since I became the Regional Governor of the Autonomous Region for Muslim Mindanao and Chairman of the SPCPD.  I have always pursued the goals enshrined in the Tripoli Agreement of 1976 as well as the Final Peace Agreement of 1996 and the various resolutions of the OIC for over 20 years and  followed the path of a peaceful settlement. 

 

The situation of the Bangsamoro people cries to the conscience of the Muslim World Leadership for we are in no better position than our brothers in occupied Palestine and the war ravaged Chechnya, Russia or our brothers in Jammu and  Khashmir or Gujarat, India but we have not heard a single voice of protest from the OIC or the Ministerial Committee of Eight against all the flagrant and massive human rights violations which non-Muslims and Christian Churches or even the US Government has denounced.  My illegal and arbitrary arrest and detention that violates the Philippine Constitution, its laws, the Final Peace Agreement of 1996, the Resolutions of the OIC and International Law did not merit a protest from the Ministerial Committee of Eight which is responsible in representation of  the Muslim world to protect the rights of the Bangsamoro people and the leaders of the MNLF from persecution and unjust treatment by the Government of the Philippines which is the other party to the Final Peace Agreement with binding moral and international obligations to the OIC as well as the member states.

 

As the Alliance of the Advancement of the Peoples Rights have issued Press Statement on 25 April 2002 in a very sincere manifestation of support, declared; “The assaults against civilians are of unparalleled levels of brutality.  The mission established through substantive evidence massive human rights violations (HRVs) committed by the AFP, principally against civilian communities.  Covering more than 5 municipalities and 30 barangays, the mission documented at least 11 types of HRV cases.  These are massacres, salvaging, aerial bombing and artillery shelling of civilian communities, forced evacuation, looting, arson, strafing of civilian properties, harassment, arbitrary arrest, illegal detention, and torture- all perpetrated by various elements of the AFP.

 

“This monstrosity by the AFP has gripped the people of Sulu in fear and veiled anger.  Military operations have been going on for almost two years.  Because of the prolonged duration, the people almost had no time to recover from their destroyed crops and houses.  If the soldiers aren’t killing them through bombings and strafings, they are killing the people through starvation.

 

“This genocidal war of the AFP must stop.  Through this mission, we are determined to expose to the public the tragedy of this secret war.  We strongly push for the immediate halt to these brutal military operations in Sulu and demand justice and indemnification for all victims of the AFP’s hidden war in Sulu.”

 

Your Excellencies, such sentiments coming from non-Muslims and even non-Filipinos is more than enough to convey to you the pain and suffering of the Bangsamoro People borne from the unjust military  and war operations against the civilians in complete disregard of the Statute of Rome in 1999 as well as other humanitarian laws and Philippine Constitution.  It has been denounced as a “genocidal war” against the Bangsamoro People. The Muslim officials of the government who will give you a different picture or presentation of benefits given to the Bangsamoro masses by the government or the high positions rewarded to some nominal Muslims are all belied by the findings of non-Muslim Organizations who are only after the Truth.  The sycophantic and shameless Muslim officials or bogus MNLF leaders who are being used to fragment and disrupt the unity of the Bangsamoro people and the MNLF are clearly acting purely on personal selfish interests disregarding the welfare of the Muslims and the struggle to establish Islamic governance which is a legitimate aspiration of the Bangsamoro people.

 

Your Excellencies, all this challenges against our leadership are only done because of violations by the government of our agreements as well as international laws and clear indications that we are going away from a just and meaningful solution,  in the same manner that Sharon of Israel destroyed OSLO agreement between Palestine and Israel which now engulfed their people’s in a vicious cycle of violence.  Brother President Yaser Arafat is a prisoner just like me and the objective of both actions is to destroy the Palestinian and the Bangsamoro leadership to liquidate the Palestinian and the Bangsamoro struggles.  This Zionist and anti Muslim plots are clearly a sinister attempt to deny our peoples their legitimate historic and national rights under the charter of the United Nations and other international agreements and governance. Let us all remember that the vote of the Philippines in 1949 created the State of Israel in 1949 from the country of the Palestinians.

 

May we remind Your Excellencies and your governments that Resolution No. 56/9-P(IS) on Question of Muslims in Southern Philippines approved at the 9th Islamic Conference held in Doha, state of Qatar from 16-17 Shabaan 1421 H(12-13 November 2001) wherein the heads of state and government welcomed the “Peace Agreement” between GRP and MNLF signed on September 2, 1996 wherein your humble representation was a signatory and called on the GRP and MNLF to preserve the gains of the “Peace Agreement”.  The OIC thanked the GRP for receiving the Fact Finding Mission that went to Mindanao and Sulu last October , 2000 and paid tribute to the MNLF as the sole legitimate representative of the Bangsamoro people. It further resolved to maintain MNLF in it’s capacity as the sole legitimate representative of the Bangsamoro people with a view to improving our conditions in accordance with the “Peace Agreement”.

 

This Summit Resolution was reinforced by Resolution No. 58/28-P  on the 29th ICFM held in Bamako, Republic of Mali, from 4-6 Rabiul Thani 1422 H(25-27 June 2001) wherein it is stated the support for the “Peace Agreement” and to preserve its gains as well as commend the MNLF as the sole legitimate representative of the Bangsamoro people under the leadership of Prof. Nur Misuari, Chairman MNLF.  It also mandated the Chairman of the Committee of Eight to continue necessary contacts with GRP and MNLF not later than the end of 2001 to define a timetable for implementing the “Peace Agreement” and this was a repetition of the mandate in the Resolution No. 56/9 P (IS) to establish a timetable for the implementation of the “Peace Agreement” not later than 1st quarter of 2001.  However, up to this date there is no timetable and the Ministerial Committee of Eight has not done anything to implement this mandate or to investigate my illegal and unlawful detention as Chairman of the MNLF which has an Observer Status in the OIC for over 20 years.  I have not been visited by any official of the OIC or a member of the Ministerial Committee of Eight even through their resident Ambassadors to inquire the legality of my arrest, detention and prosecution under Philippine Laws and International Laws.  What has happened to Muslim Honor?

 

In IslamOnline.Net, a Fatwa was issued regarding my case which confirms the Fatwa of the independent Bangsamoro Supreme Council of Ulama composed of graduates of Islamic Universities in the Arab world. The Fatwa is as follows:

 

Question:    What is the Fatwa regarding the deportation of Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor and Moro National Liberation Front Chairman Nur P. Misuari from an Islamic country like Malaysia to the Philippines, which is bragging as the only Catholic nation in Southeast Asia?

 

Answer:      Apart from this specific case, it is generally agreed that it is prohibited to hand over a Muslim to non-Muslim as this involves casting off a Muslim and subjecting him to the control of a non-Muslim; such act typically represents letting a Muslim down.  This is the meaning of the Hadith of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, that reads: “Muslim is the brother of a Muslim.  He does not oppress him, nor let him down nor even look down upon him.”

 

                   In addition, handing over a Muslim to non-Muslims is a form of disdaining a Muslim and a sacrilegious act to his blood.  In the Hadith, we read:  “A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim.  He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him.  The piety is here, (and while saying so) he pointed towards his chest thrice.  It is a serious evil for a Muslim that he should look down upon his brother Muslim.  All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith:  his blood, his wealth and his honor.”  Such a heinous deed is also a form of helping others in matters of sin and aggression.  Almighty Allah says:  “Help not one another unto sin and transgression, but keep your duty to Allah.  Lo! Allah is severe in punishment.”  (Al-Ma’idah:2)

 

 

 

Under International Law, since I am the Chairman of the MNLF which is a recognized “liberation movement” not only by the OIC members but also by the GRP, the USA and several European Nations and therefore I am covered by the 1987 United Nations Geneva declaration on terrorism wherein it is provided:

 

                   “As repeatedly recognized by the United Nations General Assembly, peoples who are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right to self- determination have the right to use force to accomplish their objectives within the framework of international humanitarian law.  Such lawful uses of force must not be confused with acts of international terrorism.  Thus, it would be legally impermissible to treat members of national liberation movements in the Caribbean Basis, Central America, Namibia, Northern Ireland, the Pacific Islands, Palestine and South Africa, among others, as if they were common criminals.  Rather, national liberation fighters should be treated as combatants subject to the laws and customs of warfare and to the international laws of humanitarian armed conflict as evidenced for example, by the 1907 Hague Regulations, the Four Geneva Conventions of 1949, and their Additional Protocol I of 1977.  Thus, when a liberation fighter is captured by a belligerent state, he should not be tried as a criminal, but would be treated as a prisoner of war.  He could be entered for the duration of the conflict, or released upon condition of a pledge to refrain from further participation in hostilities, or traded in a prisoner of war exchange.  In the event such a national liberation fighter is found in a neutral state, he should not be subjected to extradition to the belligerent state.”

 

In the Philippine legal system, under  Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution of the Philippines provides that the generally accepted principles of international law is part of the law of the land.  This is the “incorporation doctrine”  in public international law which rules that international law becomes part of the municipal law automatically without further need of legislation or ratification”.  Furthermore, the Philippines is a member state of the United Nations.

 

I have submitted on March 22, 2002 an eight-page letter to His Excellency, the  Secretary General and the members of the Committee of Eight were furnished copies through their resident Ambassadors in Manila.  I have explained all the violations of the Filipino Government and the anti Muslim bias of the Philippine Supreme Court as well as the manufacturing of evidence against me. They have not allowed my trial in Jolo where the crime was committed because they want to isolate me in Laguna, which is in the  island of Luzon and a Christian province.  The Supreme Court , contrary to the existing procedures have not even allowed my lawyers to present  oral arguments or to have conference with the court and instead for the first time in the history of the Republic of the Philippines a court has been built inside the military camp for the trial to be conducted just like a Kangaroo Court which was not done under Martial Law during the regime of President Marcos.  The summons that we have requested the court to issue to secure witnesses on our behalf has not been granted up to now in violation of the existing procedures.  There is media bias against me because of the anti Muslim sentiments generated by the deprivations and kidnappings of the Abu Sayyaf because all who opposed the government or in the MNLF or MILF are being branded as terrorists.

 

Your Excellencies, in conclusion, with your indulgence, permit me to appeal to all of you brothers and sisters who are representatives of your governments as Muslims state for “the OIC to act decisively whether to support the Bangsamoro People or to completely abandon us but indecision harms us since the resolutions and agreements become meaningless.  We entered into the peace agreements because of your assurances that you will not allow us to be betrayed, and if betrayed you will come to our defense”.  Today, we have witnessed the failure of leadership of the Committee of Eight to come to our defense even not on the basis of Islam but on the basis of the “Peace Agreement”, the resolutions of the OIC and binding legal and moral commitments under International Law.  In my isolation in the detention rooms where I am illegally imprisoned,  I have to hold on to my hope that the OIC will at least insist on the GRP to honor its obligations under the Final Peace Agreement because every Muslim who died or dies or injured and all the properties destroyed by the Philippine military since 1996 is on the conscience of every member state of OIC and ALLAH shall in the Day of Judgment  make us all account for our deeds or failure to faithfully defend the oppressed Muslims. 

 

Your Excellencies, we appeal that an immediate meeting of the Ministerial Committee of Eight in order to arrest the escalation of violence against the Muslim masses under the guise of an international war against terror by the United States and our unjust persecution and detention.  There are certain factions of the GRP who are using the U.S. policy to sabotage and subvert the whole peace process, and the military leadership has already repudiating the agreements entered into by the MILF, thru accusations that MILF is a terrorist organization with linkages with Osama Bin Ladin and Al-Qaida. 

 

It is clear that the OIC has a solemn obligation under the resolutions to immediately act in accordance with its mandate to save the gains of the Peace Agreement and protect the rights, properties and dignities of the Bangsamoro People who are under siege for almost four (4) years.  We also asked that the OIC support if possible, and if GRP continues to refuse to honor its international obligations and commitment under the peace agreement, to elevate the matter to the United Nations, initially with the Commission on Human Rights, the Human Rights Committee and the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities in order to properly investigate the situation of the Bangsamoro People and appeal to the international community to enforce our right to life, liberty, security, sustainable development and as all political, civil social, economic and cultural rights.

 

We also pray that the issue of our exercise of our  Right to Self-Determination under United National Universal Declaration of Human Rights. U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966, the Statute of Rome of 1999 and other humanitarian laws which we are entitled to as human beings particularly being former states like the Sultanates of Malaysia and Brunei until our illegal annexation by the United States under the Treaty of Paris of 1899 which was also rejected by the First Philippine Republic. Since then, the Bangsamoro people has  been struggling for freedom , homeland and Islam.

 

May I respectfully end this Intervention with an appeal to the 29th ICFM to recommend the grant of  full membership of the Bangsamoro People through the MNLF and , hopefully, in unity with the MILF, in the OIC in order that the efforts for peace in Mindanao by the OIC will not be stalled but instead lead to an East Timor solution with the UN participation and establish peace. I am making this appeal in order that truth will prevail and not only the manipulations and misinformations of one or two ambassadors of the member states of the Ministerial Committee of the Eight, that has cause more harm to the Muslim Ummah, in order that a balanced and truthful report will be submitted and discussed in this 29th ICFM at Khartoum, Sudan, June 2002 and later to the 10th Islamic Summit in 2003, Insha-Allah.  Initially, the Ambassadors in Manila of the Members of the Ministerial Committee of Eight may convene and hear the GRP and our representations and later on, on the Ministerial level, even in Manila, if not possible in Jeddah.

 

Your Excellencies, my appeal for myself as well as on behalf of the MNLF and the Bangsamoro People is made out of a desire to save the gains of peace and fully implement the Final Peace Agreement which is also the duty of the OIC under its Charter, International Law, and most important, to Allah Almighty, in conformity to Islam to struggle for peace and justice and end oppression and transgression on any people, particularly, if they are Muslims.  We pray that Your Excellencies will take the appropriate steps and actions in order that remedies can be attained and the OIC resolutions for the past three decades may at last find realization and compliance from the GRP, as well as the MNLF, INSHA ALLAH.

 

May ALLAH Subhanau’ta’ala Bless this conference with success and may HE give victory to Islam, the Mujahiddin and Muslims people’s all over the world , so the world will be at Peace for Islam means Peace and one of the names of ALLAH is Al-Salam – The Peace .  Allahuma anta Salam wa minka Salam. Allahumansoril Islam wal Muslimin. Allahumansoril Mujahiddin fe kulli alam. Allahumansoril Mujahidin fe biladina. Allahuma ansur Ummatan Muhammad Sallalahi alaihi wassalam.

 

Wa billahi tawfiq wal hidaya

Assalamu Alaikum Wa rahmatullahi Wabarakatuh!

 

 

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