URGENT ALERT: Philipines

URGENT ALERT: Philipines

Islamic Human Rights Commission

URGENT ALERT: Philipines

4th July 2000

Last Sunday, June 18, 2000, at about 5:00 pm, a group of Filipino soldiers who were on R&R (rest and recreation) in Cagayan de Oro City, the regional capital of Northern Mindanao, stopped at one of the city’s busiest markets and upon seeing Muslims attending to their dry goods stalls, raked them with M-16 rifle fire. Two Muslims died on the spot while eight others were seriously injured. Many of the victims are women.

On the same day as the Cagayan de Oro tragedy, a Muslim refugee from the municipality of Matanog, Maguindanao province, was also murdered by a Marine soldier in cold blood. The victim was one of those who was given clearance by the military to return to his piece of land in Matanog to harvest his crops so he can earn money for his family still in the refugee camps. While he was harvesting his corn, a
Marine soldier accosted him and blew off a chunk of his head with an M-14 rifle for no reason. As a result of this incident, Muslim refugees refuse to leave the evacuation centres and go back to their lands.

2. Suggested Action

(a) Please write to your foreign minister demanding that he make immediate representations to the Philippines government to end atrocities against Muslims, and to bring these police officers to justice.

(b) Also contact the Ambassador to the Philippines in your country demanding that these officers be brought to justice. (If you need help in finding the address, please contact IHRC).

(c) Please also write to the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson asking her to make immediate investigations into the atrocities being committed against Muslims in the Philippines by the police and military.

Mary Robinson, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland.
Fax: (+4122) 9170092

(d) Write to the President of the Philippines, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, demanding that the perpetrators receive full justice, and notifying his government that you will be encouraging a boycott of Filippino goods and services e.g. tourism until such time that the human rights situation improves.

OFFICE OF THE PRESIDENT Malacanang Palace JP Laurel St., San Miguel 1005, Manila, Philippines
Fax No: (632)7421641.

Copy that letter to the Justice Minister, Mr. Serafin Cuevas
Department of Justice
Padre Faura Street , Ermita, Manila , Philippines
Fax No: (632) 5211614

and the Tourism Minister Ms. Gemma Cruz-Araneta

Department of Tourism
DOT Building
Kalaw Street, Agrifina Circle,, Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines Fax No: (632) 5217374
Web Address: http://www.tourism.gov.ph

Addresses for UK campaigners:

Robin Cook MP
King Charles Street

Fax: 020 7270 3539
e-mail: labour-party@geo2.poptel.org.uk

Cesar B. Bautisa
Diplomatic Mission of the Philippines to the UK and Ireland
9a Palace Green, London W8 4QE

Fax (44-207) 937 2925
e-mail: embassy@philemb.demon.co.uk

3. Background

The victims were all stall-owners and small businessmen who have been residing in Cagayan de Oro City for the past couple of years now. The soldiers came from the combat zones where they have been fighting the Muslim resistance fighters. Whilst the soldiers were immediately apprehended by the city police there is a fear amongst many observers that they will not face full trial or if that happens receive sentences that adequately reflect the severity of their crime.

Human rights abuses of Muslims outside the conflict zones are becoming more frequent. Cagayan de Oro City, before this tragedy, was considered the safest city for Muslims by the Muslim community. Recenetly twenty-six Muslims were arrested and tortured in Manila, the country’s capital, for allegedly being “MILF terrorists” and another two Muslims were shot down in cold-blood in the same capital by policemen on the same basis. It later transpired that the men were overseas workers from outside Manila who had gone to the capital to secure further overseas work and visas, as they had protested before being shot (see IHRC alert on Philippines 16th June 2000).

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