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Sabtu, 23 Julai 2011

Government forces burn houses, destroy Masjid in Basilan

July 20, 2011 – Five houses owned by forces of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (BIAF) in Barangay Mangulat, Tuburan, Basilan were burned by forces of the Philippine Army last July 14, 2011, Thursday.

A shelter being used by civilians in the area for copra production was also burned down by the governemnt soldiers. The soldiers also destroyed the walls of the Masjid (Mosque).

These information were received from the field yesterday.

Troops of the Philippine Army conducted operations against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in Barangay Sironggon, Tuburan, Basilan last Thursday which was tagged behind the kidnapping of three persosn, including two foreigners, that took place in Zamboanga City.

Instead of of engaging the ASG, the governemnt forces encountered BIAF forces under the command of Ustaz Habri of the 114th Base Command. No casualty was reported on both sides.

Firefight stopped before dusk and the BIAF forces moved out of the area.

Hundreds of families were displaced. Until now, these internally displaced persons (IDPs) have yet to return to their homes particularly in Sironggon and adjacent villages. Thus, a case of government failure to protect innocent civilians in the midst of military operation.

Worst was the burning spree of houses and corpra production shelter, and tearing down of the walls of the Masjid.

Since Thursday, the Philippine Army troops had been conducting patrol and search and rescue operations in Tuburan. But top governemnt police official said in news that the kidnappers and the kidnap victims may not be in Basilan afterall.

Displaced civilians and MILF members asked for immediate return to their communities. Their displacement from homes and livelihood make their lives more difficult especially for their children. Ramadhan is fast approaching and memories tell of experiences of Moros bearing the brunt of miltiary atrocities during the holy month.

MILF filed protests to the government on this incident, citinng violation to the ceasefire accord and civlian protection agreement between the governemnt and MILF.

Burning of houses is also a criminal offense. Recallng that in 2008-2009 military operations of the govenrment against the MILF and the Bangsamoro people, more than 2000 houses owned by MILF members and viclians were burned down by government forces.
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