Save civilians in Marawi siege: Tri-People, HR Groups urge parties in the conflict

Cotabato City – Due to the alarming situation of civilians in Marawi City who have been trapped in the continuing firefights between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) against the ISIS-inspired Maute group following the attack on the city and the declaration of Martial Law by President Rodrigo Duterte; tri-people organizations and human rights groups in Mindanao called on both parties to stop the hostilities and atrocities to save the lives of civilians.

In their statement circulated in media before the advent of Ramadan, they said: “We, in the tri-people peace and human rights movements express our strong condemnation of this violence. We are deeply saddened that this atrocity happened especially in this time where our Muslim brothers and sisters are about to observe…the Holy Month of Ramadan.”

They also called on the warring groups not to use civilians as shields and free all public places from hostile actions and armed confrontations; avoid indiscriminate firing, bombing and shelling; observe compliance to the international humanitarian law and the rules of engagement in the conduct of the operations.

The undersigned persons and their organizations in the press statement have called on the government to exert all efforts to ensure the safety and protection of the civilians now trapped in the midst of the current crisis; involve and make civilian communities, not just mere passive recipients, but, as integral part in coming up with solutions to end this crisis.

They have too asked the leadership of Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front to assert the existing peace processes and mechanisms to help arrest the emergency situation.

“We call on the religious leaders, council of elders, community leaders and all state and non-state peace actors to intervene and demand for the protection of lives, properties and communities; to lead in maintaining sobriety, critical mind, and prevent inciting religious and cultural biases out of this situation”, it added.

These groups have also called the attention of all the humanitarian organizations and agencies to make an action as soon as possible, to immediately respond to the needs of affected populations.

“Despite this situation, we appeal to the general public to continue building the infrastructure of peace by strengthening solidarity towards each other, intensify our efforts to build harmonious relationship between and among peoples, strengthen our convictions to build communities of just peace where respect, social justice and co-existence inspire us all”, finally said. 

The groups of Tri-people were led by Abulcair Balindon and Jennevie Cornelio, Vice-Chairperson and Secretary-General of the Alliance of the Tri-People for the Advancement of Human Rights (ALTAHR), respectively, and Janel Pesons, the Secretary-General of Mindanao Peoples’ Peace Movement (MPPM).