Bangsamoro scholars organize International Youth Forum in Turkey

KONYA, TURKEY – The Moro ?nternational Students Association (Moro Uluslararas? Ö?renci Derne?i - MÖDER), spearheaded the Bangsamoro – Turkiye Youth Forum on December 23-24, 2016 at Novotel in this city.

MODER, a Turkey-based association of Moro students initiated forum, the first and one of its kind, in collaboration with various youth organizations in Konya with the support from the Humanitarian Relief Organization (IHH).

Bannering the theme “From Tradition to Future” (Gelenekten Gelecek ?çin), the event gathered 65 Bangsamoro and other international students from various prominent universities in Turkey.

The Forum was organized to highlight the Bangsamoro history, cultures and the struggles in the international scene and provide platforms for students to share their perspectives and aspirations for their homeland.

“We pay respect to the Moro Mujahidins and Mujahidat in the homeland because they are the reason why we are here in Turkey. This is the result of their struggle. We dedicate this to them” Benamine Ubpon, Association President said during the opening program.

Workshops and group discussions were part of the two – day forum where participants were divided into four teams and attended in the simultaneous sessions.

The activity provided venue for open interaction involving the Moro youths, some Turkish officials and other international students in Turkey discussing different topics.

Workshop facilitators ensured that the Moro participants could openly share the history of the Bangsamoro, its struggles and current state as well as the key issues on the perspective of the youths.

Discussion also include identifying the core values of the Moro people and explore options and mechanisms where these values can be more preserved and operationalized.

As a result, a declaration was crafted which outlined the substantial issues affecting the youths and Bangsamoro in general as well as possible interventions and recommendations for the development of the region.
Highlights of the declaration include, raising awareness on Bangsamoro identity, culture and values; organizing more youth activities and establishment of youth centers that would promote partnership, leadership and cooperation; and implement development projects that would address socio – economic issues.

The declaration was presented during the closing program. Closing Program MILF Chairman Haji Murad Ebrahim, AK Party Deputy Chairman Ahmet Sorgun, 23rd AK Party Konya Deputy Husnu Tuna, Prime Ministry Consultant Kudret Bülbül, and IHH Asia-Pacific In-charge Omer Kesmen graced the closing program as guest speakers.

In his speech, Ebrahim narrated the history of the Bangsamoro struggle and highlighted the recent developments of the peace processes after the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement of the Bangsamoro (CAB) between the MILF and the Government of the Philippines.

The MILF chair also shared the current priorities for the Moro people which eventually gained commitment of support from the Turkish officials.

He also commended the active role of Turkey as a member of International Contact Group (ICG) and other mechanisms to back up the peace process. Quoting MILF Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal’s words, Kesmen said “The differences between the non-Muslims and Muslims are high and that is the reason why we (Turkey) are trying to help you (Moros) by providing you educational assistance.”

He then emphasized the importance of education among Moro youths. (See related news: Turkey Officials commit to establishment of Bangsamoro University) Regular meeting and Strategic Planning MODER, officers and members took advantage of the forum and conducted the regular annual meeting and strategic planning.

The meeting gave a chance to orient the new members, review and re – affirm the association’s vision, mission and goals and crafted the organizational strategies to achieve their purpose.

The planning explored internal capacities and external opportunities available for international Moro students in Turkey.
One of the organizers, Datu Abdulshattar Zailon III, shared his fulfillment after the event.

“We didn’t expect the overwhelming support from the Turkish organizations. Our initial idea was to gather the Moro students and come up with plans for the association and the Bangsa, but surprisingly we gained their commitment.

We are very much inspired by the presence of our Moro Leaders during the event” Zailon said. Aside from humanitarian assistance delivered by the IHH, Moro youths are provided with opportunities for higher education in the different universities in Turkey through the Turkey Scholarships Program.

The screening of the scholars is also supported by the Bangsamoro Development Agency (BDA).