August 27, 2008
REF: ATTY. ZAINUDIN MALANG
RESPECT RULES OF WAR IN MINDANAO!
Even as people are still reeling from events in Lanao del Norte, field reports from our colleagues in civil society continue to be disturbing. Now that fighting has shifted to Moro areas, we hear of insufficient time given to civilians to vacate their villages before AFP bombardment begins. We hear of food blockades against internally displaced people. We hear of NGOs being prevented from delivering urgently needed relief items and media personalities being prevented from covering the humanitarian crisis. We hear of a high ranking national official of DSWD complaining about the assistance to displaced families (25 kilos of rice, per family, per month) as being too “big”!
Therefore, we remind ALL PARTIES AND COMBATANTS of the Protocol II of the Geneva Conventions on the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts, particularly on the protection of civilian populations. Civilians enjoy protection from dangers arising from military operations (Art. 13-1). Neither should they be subjected to attack (Art. 13-2), nor should acts of hostility be directed at places of worship (Art. 16). Starvation of civilians as a method of combat is prohibited (Art. 14).
We call on United Nations humanitarian agencies, international organizations such as the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other members of the international community to insist upon their mandate and duty to deliver aid to the victims of conflict. The concept of Right to Protect (R2P) necessarily includes the duty to protect.
We call on our friends in the media to equally report suffering by ALL communities. We wish to remind them that 85% of the civilian victims of the 2000 and 2003 all out wars were Moros. We remind them further of the public’s need to be provided with ACCURATE AND COMPREHENSIVE reports from ALL SIDES to the conflict. Recall too the writings of Noam Chomsky on manufacturing public consent to support a war by playing up unchallenged claims of successful military operations and attrocities of enemies.
Impartiality! Neutrality! Non-Discrimination! These are the basics of International Humanitarian Law.
ALLIANCE OF MUSLIM ADVOCATES OF LAW
BANGSAMORO LAWYERS’ NETWORK
MUSLIM LEGAL AID FOUNDATION, INC.
BANGSAMORO CENTER FOR LAW AND POLICY
UP MUSLIM STUDENTS ASSOCIATION (COLLEGE OF LAW)
ATENEO DE MANILA MUSLIM LAW STUDENTS