Philippines peace adviser oversees rebel reintegration

A seven-member independent decommissioning body with representatives from Turkey, Norway, Brunei, the Philippines and the MILF will oversee the process. (Shutterstock)
Updated 25 June 2019
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Philippines peace adviser oversees rebel reintegration

  • Under the first stage, 30 percent of the MILF fighting force will be decommissioned this year

MANILA: The decommissioning of 12,000 separatist fighters from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will start in September, a senior Philippines government adviser told Arab News on Monday.

Assistant Secretary Dickson Hermoso of the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process said that members of the government panel implementing the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro have begun talks with communities in the six MILF camps.

The agreement was signed by the government and the MILF in 2014, and includes ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and establishment of a Bangsamoro autonomous region in Mindanao. 

“There are about 40,000 Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) members due for decommissioning and this will be done in three stages,” Hermoso said.

A seven-member independent decommissioning body with representatives from Turkey, Norway, Brunei, the Philippines and the MILF will oversee the process.

 

Stages

Under the first stage, about 12,000 BIAF members, or 30 percent of the MILF fighting force, will be decommissioned this year.

Asked when decommissioning will start, Hermoso said that “they are looking at September, but no date has been set.”

The second stage will include the decommissioning of 35 percent of BIAF members after a Bangsamoro police force is established. 

Decommissioning of remaining MILF fighters will take place when the government and MILF panels have signed an exit document confirming that all their agreements have been implemented.

As chair of the joint peace and security committee, Hermoso is in charge of bringing fighters to processing centers and then returning them to their communities.

The 12,000 BIAF members have already  surrendered their high-powered firearms, he said.

Experts on disarmament, demobilization and reintegration will oversee decommissioning of combatants, while joint peace and security teams will secure the processing areas.

Decommissioned fighters will be profiled to help integration into their communities.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte earlier approved a wide-ranging government plan to aid former combatants, their families and their communities during the transition process.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the normalization process will address the “drivers and triggers” that breed conflict in Mindanao communities.

He said this would take place “by eliminating the conditions and vulnerabilities for potential conflict, changing the behavioral patterns and mindset of individuals and organizations, and pushing them to work to achieve harmony, interdependence, and the common good.”


US imposes sanctions on Myanmar commander in chief over Rohingya abuses

This file photo taken on July 19, 2018, shows Myanmar's Chief Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, commander-in-chief of the Myanmar armed forces, saluting to pay his respects to Myanmar independence hero General Aung San and eight others assassinated in 1947, during a ceremony to mark the 71th anniversary of Martyrs' Day in Yangon. (AFP)
Updated 53 min 19 sec ago
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US imposes sanctions on Myanmar commander in chief over Rohingya abuses

  • A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh
  • A United Nations investigator said this month that Myanmar security forces and insurgents were committing human rights violations against civilians that may amount to fresh war crimes

WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday announced sanctions on the Myanmar military’s Commander-in-Chief Min Aung Hlaing and other military leaders it said were responsible for extrajudicial killings of Rohingya Muslims, barring them from entry to the United States.
The steps, which also covered Min Aung Hlaing’s deputy, Soe Win, and two other senior commanders and their families, are the strongest the United States has taken in response to massacres of minority Rohingyas in Myanmar, also known as Burma. It named the two others as Brig. Generals Than Oo and Aung Aung.
“We remain concerned that the Burmese government has taken no actions to hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, and there are continued reports of the Burmese military committing human rights violations and abuses throughout the country,” US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.
Pompeo said a recent disclosure that Min Aung Hlaing ordered the release of soldiers convicted of extrajudicial killings at the village of Inn Din during the ethnic cleansing of Rohingya in 2017 was “one egregious example of the continued and severe lack of accountability for the military and its senior leadership.”
“The Commander-in-Chief released these criminals after only months in prison, while the journalists who told the world about the killings in Inn Din were jailed for more than 500 days,” Pompeo said.
The Inn Din massacre was uncovered by two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo, who spent more than 16 months behind bars on charges of obtaining state secrets. The two were released in an amnesty on May 6.
The US announcement came on the first day of an international ministerial conference on religious freedom hosted by Pompeo at the State Department that was attended by Rohingya representatives.
“With this announcement, the United States is the first government to publicly take action with respect to the most senior leadership of the Burmese military,” said Pompeo, who has been a strong advocate of religious freedom.

“GROSS VIOLATIONS“
“We designated these individuals based on credible information of these commanders’ involvement in gross violations of human rights.”
A 2017 military crackdown in Myanmar drove more than 730,000 Rohingya Muslims to flee to neighboring Bangladesh. UN investigators have said that Myanmar’s operation included mass killings, gang rapes and widespread arson and was executed with “genocidal intent.”
The State Department has so far stopped short of calling the abuses genocide, referring instead to ethic cleansing and a “well-planned and coordinated” campaign of mass killings, gang rapes and other atrocities.
“He (Pompeo) has not come to the point at which he has decided to make a further determination. Generally our policies are focused on changing behavior, promoting accountability, and we have taken today’s actions with those goals in mind,” a senior State Department official told reporters, asking not to be named.
The military in Myanmar, where Buddhism is the main religion, has denied accusations of ethnic cleansing and says its actions were part of a fight against terrorism.
A declaration of genocide by the US government could require Washington to impose even stronger sanctions on Myanmar, a country with which it has competed for influence with regional rival China.
The senior State Department official said Washington hoped the latest steps would strengthen the hand of the civilian government in Myanmar in its effort to amend the constitution to reduce military influence in politics.
“Our hope is that these actions ... will help to further delegitimize the current military leadership, and can help the civilian government gain control of the military,” he said.
The Trump administration had thus far imposed sanctions on four military and police commanders and two army units involved in the abuses against the Rohingya and had been under pressure from US Congress to take tougher steps.
A United Nations investigator said this month that Myanmar security forces and insurgents were committing human rights violations against civilians that may amount to fresh war crimes.