International Peace Mission Exposes US War Strategy in southern Philippines

28-03-2002

The International Peace Mission was co-organised by Focus on the Global South (Thailand), Institute of Popular Democracy and Akbayan (Philippines) and the Netherlands-based Transnational Institute (TNI). Its task was to assess the impact of the introduction of US troops into a war zone that is emerging as a "second front" for the US "war against terrorism." The US Special troops have been deployed to train and collaborate with the Armed Forces of the Philippines to eliminate Abu Sayyaf, a Muslim extremist group who are allegedly linked to the Al Qaeda international network.

An Opening Statement read by Dr. Walden Bello, Director of Focus on the Global South, and a member of the 14 person Peace Mission, highlighted the following initial findings: There is strong evidence that the Philippine military is committing human rights violations in warrantless arrests, detention without trial and alleged torture of suspected Abu Sayyaf members The Abu Sayyaf problem is a phenomenon rooted in a complex political situation, which will not be solved by increased militarisation Testimonies by the inhabitants of Basilan indicate that the Abu Sayyaf are protected by high officials of the Philippine military at regional and provincial level.

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