Human rights defenders push for the adoption of human rights framework in the Bangsamoro Basic Law
(Cotabato City) In the observance of the International Human Rights Day, Bawgbug is spearheading a series of community based consultations in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi for the drafting of a Bangsamoro Basic Law with a strong and highly defined human rights framework. “This is one of the shortcomings of the 1996 Final Peace Agreement which failed to entrench human rights principles and mechanisms into the governance structure of the ARMM. That is why the worst forms of human rights violations are committed in the Bangsamoro areas and the culture of silence and impunity persists”, Cocoy Tulawie, human rights defender from Sulu, explained.
Participating in the widespread consultations will be the vulnerable and marginalized groups from the poorest of the poor in the island provinces. Using open space dialogues, Bawgbug will consult the survivors of massacres, families of desaparecidos, victims of kidnappings, indiscriminate bombings and shellings, the survivors of the gang rapes of powerful political clans in Sulu, youth and religious leaders who are oftentimes victims of illegal arrests and arbitrary detentions. It will also consult the diaspora in Zamboanga and Sabah who were forcibly driven out of the Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-tawi because of the long drawn armed conflict that hardly observe international humanitarian law.
According to Rose Trajano Secretary General of the Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates, “All begins with human dignity. The Bangsamoro Basic Law should be designed to ensure that a person’s dignity is protected and guaranteed”.
Law should not deprive a human being of life, liberty, property & dignity. Thus any basic law must have intrinsically a human rights framework, Warina Jukuy, Convenor of Hijaab Niqaab Advocacy Network, said.
Bawgbug, which in Tausug means to ‘stand and protect’ aims to put an end to a destructive and violent culture that is very apparent in the Bangsamoro region; a norm that propagates an apathetic orientation towards a human being’s dignity. This societal plague has been the cause of systemic injustice which called for many Moros to take up arms to protect their own families and communities. “Hopefully, with the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Philippine Government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the status quo which they have described as unacceptable will indeed be changed. The challenge for the Moros will be how to bring in meaningful changes in the lives of ordinary people; how to set up a government that will be protective, responsible and accountable to human rights. The challenge now is how we can introduce new politics into this new political entity for the Bangsamoro”, Cocoy Tulawie said.
Cocoy Tulawie is currently detained at the Davao City Jail due to malicious and fabricated charges against him by the Governor of Sulu. International human rights organizations from all over the world are rallying behind Cocoy Tulawie describing his situation as a classic example of criminalization of human rights defender in order to silence and cripple his human rights work.
BAWGBUG commits to conduct at least 15 community-based and sectoral consultations order to enflesh concrete proposals and recommendations on relevant human rights provisions for the Bangsamoro Basic Law. Results of the consultations will be submitted to the Bangsamoro Transition Commission before end of January 2014. (Mashod Salic, December 21, 2013).
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