Christian-Muslim grouping says arrests were a result of governmental paranoia
A Christian-Muslim alliance called on President Benigno Aquino yesterday to immediately release 73 Moro detainees arrested 10 years ago on “trumped up” terrorism charges. The Moro-Christian People’s Allianceissued the call as it marked the 10th anniversary of the declaration of a "state of lawlessness" in Basilan province in the south of the country. They say the men were innocent victims in what was a government attempt to wipe out Abu Sayyaf guerillas and a US declaration that declared the southern Philippines as its "second front" in the war on terror. "Justice has been too slow and elusive for Moro victims," the alliance said in a statement. The organization said many of the arrested belong to the "poorest groups" in Moro society. "Worse, they were placed in cells along with realAbu Sayyafmembers and leaders," the statement added. "Should President Aquino continue to deprive the Moro detainees of justice, then his administration is continuing a human rights violation against the Moro people which he inherited from the previous regime," it said. On July 13, 2001, the Moro men were rounded up in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi provinces and in the Zamboanga peninsula as part of the government’s campaign to wipe out Abu Sayyaf guerillas. They were allegedly tortured to admit that they were Abu Sayyaf members, after which the US FBI helped build a case against them as part of the war on terror, the alliance claim. "The Aquino administration should rescind the state of lawlessness declaration and do something to heal the damage caused by the US war on terror campaign that promoted Islamophobia in the country and resulted in rights violations against the Moro people," the alliance added.
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