Posted by: kawagib | January 19, 2008

No to Balikatan in Mindanao !

Kawagib Moro Human Rights organization urges the government to stop the holding of Balikatan exercises in Mindanao scheduled in February this year.

According to Kawagib, Arroyo government should consider the numerous human rights violations involving US soldiers in Mindanao . Previous Balikatan in Mindanao especially in Sulu and Basilan have left issues of human rights violations that remain unresolved.

A recent case in Zamboanga City where passengers of a tricycle complained in a radio station about US soldiers who accidentally bumped the tricycle they were riding in Calarian village on December 15, 2007. Instead of helping the victims to get up, US soldiers got down from their vehicle complete with high-powered guns that according to the complainants looked like they were going to war.

In 2002, Buyung-Buyung Isnijal was shot allegedly by an American soldier identified by witnesses as a certain Sgt. Reggie Lane , who was accused of participating in a military operation on July 27, 2002 in Tuburan, Basilan.

Also, the shooting and maiming of civilians purportedly by US soldiers who accidentally fired at civilians in the community while on their testing missions. One case was the shooting and wounding of Arsid Baharun in Zamboanga City while soldiers were conducting a marksmanship practice in 2004, and the second was in September 2006 where shrapnel of a misfired bomb hit the back of a 50-year old mother Bizma Juhan in Indanan, Sulu.

Kawagib fear the vulnerability of the Moro civilians in areas where Balikatans are held. Previous statements made by US officials on having the right to carry guns and fire at people whom they think will compromise their security absolves them of these crimes.

Reports said Balikatan 2008 will be starting next month and the areas included are North Cotabato, Northern Mindanao , Sulu and Basilan.

The government should act on the cases and give justice to the victims of human rights violations brought about by previous Balikatan exercises in the country.

Kawagib calls on our Moro brothers and sisters to be more vigilant for the coming of Balikatan next month.

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