August 26, 2012: Kawagib, a Moro human rights strongly condemned the death of a four year old girl named Asmayra Usman at following alleged indiscriminate firing at late evening on August 21, 2012 by government military troops at an evacuation center in Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao.
The indiscriminate strafing, accordingly had brandished high powered caliber firearms, hit some makeshifts of evacuees at Mahad Nurul Ittihad Evacuation Center in Salbu, Datu Saudi Ampatuan.
A Press Release issued by Kawagib said “Asmayra, her father Arsad Mujahed Usman, 33, and her mother were sleeping at their tent in Mahad Nurul Ittihad Evacuation Center in Salbo, Datu Saudi Ampatuan, Maguindanao when military encamped in Brgy. Bagan, Guindulungan strafed at the direction of the evacuation center which bullet hit Arsad’s left foot and goes through the stomach of Asmayra which caused her sudden death.”
Hundreds of families had been displaced following the offensives of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters – Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Movement (BIFF – BIFM) against Philippine Army positions last August 5, 2012.
Government forces launched continuing punitive and counter operations against the BIFF – BIFM.
“This incident is another case of extra-judicial killing, frustrated killing which is violation to human rights and international humanitarian law which states that non-combatants or civilians should not become target of the armed conflict,” Kawagib said.
Kawagib also condemned reports of stationing of government forces near civilian houses, evacuation centers and houses and Mosques in Datu Saudi and Guindlungan, saying these are “clearly non-adherence to IHL which the state signed and only endanger the lives of the civilians.”
However, the 6thInfantry Division Philippine Army, denied the allegation of Kawagib, saying the military is fully aware and adhering to IHL and ensures civilian protection in executing their responsibilities, even as it said it welcomes an investigation on this case.
KAWAGIB said it just concluded its Duyog Ramadhan: Kanduli for a Just and Lasting Peace in Mahad Nurul Ittihad before the incident happened, adding “KAWAGIB strongly believes that the only way to a just and lasting peace is by addressing the roots of the conflict, political will and sincerity, not through militarization.”
“KAWAGIB challenges the government to conduct a thorough investigation and serve justice for the victims.”