Crisis in Marawi: Condemn violence; protect civilians; uphold human rights

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The Philippine government’s response in placing Mindanao under martial law will not solve the current situation, say civil society groups in that country.

Around 2 o’clock in the afternoon of 23 May 2017, a gunfight between armed men (suspected Maute Group, allegedly Isis sympathisers) and elements of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) erupted in public places in Marawi City putting the civilian population hostage in the situation.

As the violence intensifies, the civilian population are exposed to a higher risk of being killed or injured. In fact, reports have noted that the gunfight has already claimed three lives, wounded 12 other individuals; church leaders have been abducted, civilians held hostage, a hospital occupied and properties burned and destroyed as of midnight of 23 May.

We, in the tri-people peace and human rights movements, express our strong condemnation of this violence. We are deeply saddened that this atrocity has happened especially in times like this when our Muslim brothers and sisters are about to observe in three days’ time the Holy Month of Ramadhan.

In this regard,

We call on all parties involved to stop the hostilities and atrocities in Marawi City;

We call on the warring groups not to use civilians as shields and free all public places from hostile actions and armed confrontations; avoid indiscriminate firing, bombing and shelling; observe compliance with the international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement in the conduct of the operations;

We call for the government to exert all efforts to ensure the safety and protection of the civilians now trapped in the midst of the current emergency crisis; involve and make civilian communities, not just as mere passive recipients, but as an integral part of coming up with a solution to end this crisis;

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Particularly, we ask the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to maximise the existing peace processes and mechanisms to help arrest the emergency situation;

We call on religious leaders, council of elders, community leaders and all state and non-state peace actors to intervene and demand the protection of lives, properties and communities; to lead in maintaining sobriety and critical minds, and the prevent the inciting of religious and cultural biases out of this situation;

We call on humanitarian organisations and agencies to immediately respond to the needs of affected populations;

The current government’s response in placing Mindanao under martial law will not solve the current situation; instead it will only further the violence and curtailment of civilian and community rights to peace and life. Suspension of the legal remedies specifically the writ of habeas corpus would further put the communities and civil societies in a vulnerable situation – a lesson we have learned from the terror of Marcos era.

Thus, we demand that the Philippines Congress not support the declaration of martial law and uphold the supremacy of civilians and the Philippines Constitution instead;

As peacebuilders and human rights defenders, we view this direct violence as the result of the government’s neglect in fulfilling the rights and entitlements of its peoples which can be responded to without using arms and violence.

Despite this situation, we appeal to the general public to:

  • continue building the infrastructure of peace by strengthening solidarity towards one another,
  • intensify our efforts to build harmonious relationships between and among peoples,
  • strengthen our convictions to build communities of just peace where respect, social justice and co-existence inspire us all.
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Let us continue propagating the seeds of understanding and mutual respect we have nurtured for quite some time already.

Signed by:

Alliance of the Tri-People for the Advancement of Human Rights (ALTAHR)
Alyansa ng Kabataang Mindanao para sa Kapayapaan (AKMK)
AKMK Young Women
Alyansa ng mga Mamamayan para sa Karapatang Pantao (AMKP)
Association of OFW Children-Maguindanao-Cotabato
Coalition of Lanao Utility Transport for Change (Clutch)
Convergence of NGOs and POs in Zamboanga del Sur for Rural Development, Inc (Conzarrd)
Demokratikong Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (DKMP) – Lanao
Electoral Reforms and Development Assistance Center, Inc (Erdac)
Erumanen Ne Menuvu Kamal
Federation of Democratic Labor Organizations (FDLO)
Inged Fintailan
Interfaith Movement for Clean and Peaceful Election (IM4PeaCe)
International Institute for Research and Education
Kaagapay OFW Resource and Service Center, Inc (Kaagapay OFW)
Kahugpungan sa mga Mag-uuma ug Mamumuong Kababayen-an alang sa Kalambuan (Kasamma Ka)
Kagkalimwa OFW Federation
Kahugpungan sa mga Mangingisda sa Kolambugan (Kasama Ko)
Kilusang Maralita sa Kanayunan (Kilos Ka)
Kilusan ng mga Mamamayan para sa Pagbabago ng Bayan (Kilos Bayan)
Lanao Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (Lhara)
Lanao Aquatic and Marine Fisheries Center for Community Development, Inc (LAFCCOD)
Lanao Fisheries Advocacy Network (LFAN)
Liga ng Makabagong Kabataan (LMK)
Lig-ong Hinisuang Kusog sa Kabus sa Dakbayan (LIHUK)
Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM)
Mindanao Tri-People Women Resource Center, Inc (MTWRC)
Mindanao Tri-people Women Forum (MTWF)
Mindanao Tri-People Youth Center, Inc (MTPYC)
MindanaOne Tri-peoples Movement for the Advancement of Democratic Rights (MindanaOne)
Multi-Stakeholders Initiative for Humanitarian Action Network against Disasters (MiHANDs)
Nagkahiusang Mangingisda alang sa Kalambuan (Namangka SND)
Nangkahiusang Organisasyong Mangingisda sa Tubod ug Baroy (NOMaTuB)
Ranao Disaster Response and Rehabilitation Assistance Center, Inc (RDRRAC)
Ranao Women and Children Resource Center, Inc (RWCRC)
Sumpay Mindanao, Inc.
Sustainable Alternatives for the Advancement of Mindanao (Salam)
Timuay Justice and Governance (TJG) of Teduray and Lambangian tribes
Tri-Peoples’ Organisation against Disasters Foundation (Tripod)
Tri-People Youth for Change (TryChange)
Teduray-Lambangian Youth and Student Association (TLYSA)
Umpungan Nu mga Babai sa Bagua 2 (UBB2)

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Cheng Eak Chew

Mindanao problem has been there for so many years and in fact has getting from bad to worse …but civil society groups have never came out w/ any suggestion or solution for that problem …… and now President Duterte has come hard on this “terrorist” group by placing on martial law………… and he is hoping to solve the year long crisis one and for all …..Yes, it involves some violence, some civilians may be sacrificed, human rights may be impinged or will it work? I guess, Philippine people have to give it a try and give full support to their President ……. since no one has never solved the issue!