September 3, 2008 –
COTABATO CITY – A Moro human rights group called for a stop to ongoing military offensives in Moro areas in Mindanao, especially during the Ramadhan.
Kawagib Moro Human Rights has documented 13 civilians dead due to strafing and mortar shelling by the Armed Forces of the Philippines in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Maguindanao including a pregnant woman, three minors, three elderly and a two-month old baby.
In August, the group has documented eight wounded civilians including four minors and one seven month-old baby. Kawagib further reported that they have documented five houses burned in Aleosan, both belonging to Muslims and Christians. Another house of a Moro family in Matalam was strafed by unidentified armed men.
More than 360,000 evacuees have been staying in evacuation centers in North Cotabato, Lanao del Norte and Basilan. In Maitum, Saranggani alone, there were already 249,194 displaced residents since June.
Kawagib spokesperson Bai Ali Indayla appealed to government troops to respect Ramadhan, the Muslim’s observance of the holy month of fasting, by stopping the offensives.
Indayla also condemned the resurgence of vigilante groups like the Ilaga and the arming of civilians through police auxiliaries, saying that these will only aggravate the situation of the civilians and make them more vulnerable to violence. (Bulatlat.com)