Karapatan warns Moro people against escalation of human rights violations as GPH's response to the Zamboanga stand off

The human rights watchdog Karapatan warned the Moro peoples against Philippine Government's human rights violations in the light of the Zamboanga siege. "In times like this, the Noynoy Aquino government is desperate to pacify any form of unrest. It wants to crush its so-called enemies through its dirty tactics such as human rights violations and violations of the international humanitarian law," Marie Hilao-Enriquez, chairperson of Karapatan said.  
 
"We fear a repeat of the Basilan siege in 2001 where close to more than a hundred Moro citizens and youth were arbitrarily arrested on mere suspicion of being Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) members," Enriquez said.  Enriquez was part of the fact finding team that investigated human rights violations during the 2001 siege in Basilan. "The Moro victims were heavily tortured by Philippine security forces to force them to admit they were ASG members," Enriquez continued. After 12 long years of detention, many of these victims who were members of the so-called Basilan 73,  are still imprisoned in Camp Bagong Diwa, Bicutan waiting for court resolution. Most of them are cases of mistaken identity. 
 
Karapatan also reminded the Noynoy Aquino government to respect the rights of civilians and rebels as well. "Under no condition that torture, arbitrary arrest or extra judicial killings will be justified even  during a  state of war, or military siege," Enriquez said. 
 
"The Aquino government should have negotiated rather than using force against the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) members. The government's response has led  to more problems to civilians - sending hundreds of thousands of them to cramped and dinghy evacuation centers and putting them more in harm's way," Enriquez said. ###