Philippines: from GLW archives. 4

Alan Bradley alanb at SPAMelf.brisnet.org.au
Sat Jan 20 02:39:20 MST 2001


>From issue 422 of Green Left Weekly (http://www.greenleft.org.au)

War against the people of Jolo

MANILA — In a full-scale military assault reminiscent of the worst days of
martial law under former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, the Philippines
government on September 16 launched an attack on the southern islands
centred on Jolo, allegedly to crush the Abu Sayyaf organisation, which has
kidnapped tourists and others for ransom.

Media reports indicate the involvement of US Green Beret special forces in
the operation. US troops have been sighted on the wharf at Sulu, capital
city of Jolo. US defence secretary William Cohen visited Manila for
discussions with President Joseph Estrada only days before the attack
began.

Human rights groups have accused the armed forces (AFP) of imposing a news
blackout in order to hide atrocities by government forces.

The government has admitted to only four civilians being killed since the
fighting began, but human rights groups in Jolo have said the number of
dead is much higher. A doctor has claimed that hundreds of civilians in
towns of Patikul and Talipao have been killed in the AFP's ferocious
bombing and artillery attacks.

By September 21, the number of evacuees had risen to 15,000, according to
Sulu representative Hussin Amin. “The military has yet to lift the
transportation blockade going to these areas, thus preventing the Red Cross
and other relief and medical workers from entering”, Amin said.

Nelsa Amin, a provincial medical officer, pleaded for a halt to the
military operation for two days to get help to the wounded. “Hundreds of
civilians need medical attention”, she said. Estrada has refused to order a
cease-fire until the Abu Sayyaf free all the hostages still being held.

The Philippines government is using the Abu Sayyaf crisis to escalate its
offensive against the national liberation forces representing the Muslim
minority people of Mindanao and the south.

The Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the main liberation movement in the
south, has dissociated itself from the Abu Sayyaf group, but has called on
the government to end its military operations, which are aimed against the
people of the area.

BY JIM McILROY





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