Assalamualaykum wa rahmatullahi taala wa barakatuhu!
Foremost, I bestow my thankfulness to Allah for not forsaking me, my wife and my children. Allah made a lot of means and instruments- such as help coming from various communities and diverse nations and/or faiths- so that my family and I will not suffer so much difficulty.
Likewise, I extend my thanks to all the organizations who have been helping me all this time: Mindanao People’s Caucus (MPC); Balay Rehabilitation Center; Saligan; Task Force Detainees of the Phil. (TFDP); Consortium of BangsaMoro Civil Society (CBCS); Initiative for International Dialogue (IID); AKBAYAN Party List; Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA); HRD-Pilipinas; Jihad al Akbar and PAHRA-WesMin; Free Debt Coalition; Front Line (Protection of Human Rights Defender); Indonosia Legal Aid Foundation; Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) of Hong Kong; Bread for the World of Germany; Non Violence Peace Force (NP);Human Rights Watch International. I also include all those I may have not mentioned here.
My beloved citizens of Lupah Sug, I know how much you love and value me; I also know that you desire to aid me; however, there is a reason why you cannot manifest openly your support for me. It has come to my knowledge that many from among you lawyers, doctors, professors along with other CSOs have previously conferred last January 15, 2012. You met to strategize about certain ways and means to help me out from my predicament but unfortunately you were as soon stifled. Patience my brethren, let us exercise restraint; and Allah is witness, I do not wish that anyone from you will incur any mishap all because of me. Only there is one thing that saddens me though: if the professionals or highly educated ones -such as lawyers, doctors, professors and CSO groups- lose the “freedom to speak out” what they wish to express, then, what has befallen our homeland now? I believe that whatever oppression they will inflict upon the citizens of Lupah Sug, there still will sprout two to three people who will rise up in defense of the rights of the people so that our struggle will not end—this is our struggle to be emancipated from the confines of oppressive poverty and our striving to be liberated from the shackles of oppressive fear.
My brethren, do not despair that much if you have been thwarted in manifesting your support for me; even if it be merely in your heart, it is as much valuable and great help. Just recently someone visited me and told me, “Coy, if we are the ones in trouble, you have been able to help us, you fully defend our rights, however, when you were the one who’s hit, we cannot even we help you. We are reduce to be just a mere onlooker and eavesdropper. Please bear with us, our young brother, we are incapable to buttress the sky. I repeat fervently, there is no cause for you to be anxious because Allah has many ways from various zones so that my well-being will not be neglected. There are many people who are helping me here in Davao to Bukidnon, CDO, Iligan, Marawi, Cotabato, GenSan, Pagadian and even in Manila. Just last Saturday, some human rights org in Manila held a press conference regarding my case. Help are coming my way even from as far as Indonesia, Hongkong and Germany. All these are evidence of the Majestic Power of Allah.
I have not returned to Sulu for two years and 4 months now. I can say that this is the most difficult trial that I have undergone in my lifetime, until I am now detained in this cell for a month and two days now. Notwithstanding, this is the moment when I have contemplated well about my homeland. Inside this cell, we listen to news from the radio often. I often hear Pnoy administration’s radio program, “Matuwid na Daan.” I told myself the straight path that they are proclaiming here has not reached Sulu.
What transpired during the term of Gloria still persists today; I can even say that poverty has worsened, the foolishness of the elected officials of Sulu has likewise worsened. Chaos has germinated in the hearts and minds in most of us. This is the consequence of the National government that tolerates our local officials; it even seems that they are in connivance with each other so that we will be trapped within oppression from time to time. Manila government has let our leaders and politicians rob us and indulge in corruption of our land so that we will straggle in poverty.
The poverty that has struck us is no petty matter. It has reached the point that even siblings will not help each other. The other one would think if he shares his own share, by tomorrow he will be left with nothing for himself. We even have lost our traditional values that once even what we are about to feed into our mouth we would rather give to our neighbor who has greater hunger than we have.
My brethren, our kinship ties have been severed by poverty, and so we have lost our solidarity (even in fact unity is demanded by our faith). We no longer have the time to think about our homeland, our thoughts are focused to our stomach.
Likewise, Manila government has not only tolerated corruption by those who govern us, it has also ignored their buying and hoarding of arms in order to sow terror among us; so they can do whatever they want according to their whims- this includes despoiling the daughters of the poor masses such as that of the “Gang Rape case in 2009.”
Why did the National Government ignore the foolishness of those who govern us? Perhaps the reason could be that we still shout out our dignity and rights as human beings to the whole world; because we are aware that our substantive rights as human beings is the door that leads to the freedom of our nation.
I ask you brethren, do you think that in this kind of predicament that we are embroiled in, and most especially that our siblings in the hinterlands and islands are all in, too: do we have any other option apart from the need to unite? Well, we only have two options to choose from: “to just let it be” or “to unite then to reflect.” We must implant in our minds, that if we remain indifferent, the next breed of generation will blame us and we shall be our offsprings’ and grandchildren’s source of shame. They can never proclaim that their father or their grandfather struggled for the ancestral domain, for the nation, and most of all for our deen from Allaahu Taala. Let us not reason out that we failed to wage a struggle in defense just because we were armless, there is more powerful than arms, we do not need arms, all we need to do is to know and understand our human rights. Absolutely the government is prohibited from degrading us, making us feel that we do not have rights and dignity. My brethren, whatever decadence we can see thriving in our midst at the moment is a consequence of our apathy.
There is truth in the saying, “if a good person remains idle in his own inertness that is the moment that Satan shall reign.” My brethren, our homeland has become the laughingstock of all nations in the world.
Lastly, my being incarcerated shall not become a reason for me to stop from speaking the truth. Likewise, my imprisonment shall not be the reason that I will abandon what I have initiated in the span of 13 years striving to achieve the rights of my own people, my own homeland, and my own nation.
Temogen ‘Cocoy’ S. Tulawie
Sulu-Human Rights Defender
- [Event] “Criminalization” of Human Rights Defenders Condemned (hronlineph.com)
- [Press Release] TFDP assails judge for abrupt transfer of Cocoy Tulawie to Jolo, defying Supreme Court order (hronlineph.com)
- [Statement] The concept of human rights stands accused in trial of Sulu activist – AHRC (hronlineph.com)
- [Press Release] TFDP calls for fair, impartial and speedy disposition of Mr. Tulawie’s case (hronlineph.com)
- [Urgent Appeal] Arrest of a prominent Muslim human rights defender from Jolo, Sulu – TFDP (hronlineph.com)
- [Statement] Philippines Needs A Heart to Protect Its Gems -HRD-Pilipinas (hronlineph.com)
- [Statement] PHILIPPINES: Temogen Tulawie case – prosecutors uses forced confessions as evidence – AHRC (hronlineph.com)
- [In the news] Rights worker nabbed for ’09 slay plot vs Sulu gov – INQUIRER.net (hronlineph.com)
- [Petition] Petition asking President Aquino to take custody of a falsely charged activist – AHRC (hronlineph.com)