Philippine army targets militant groups after stamping out Maute Group

Philippine Marines from the Special Warfare Group stand at attention during their arrival from Marawi at port area in Manila on October 30, 2017. (REUTERS/Dondi Tawatao)
Updated 12 November 2017

Philippine army targets militant groups after stamping out Maute Group

MANILA: Having defeated the Daesh-backed Maute Group in Marawi City, the Philippine armed forces are concentrating on pursuing other militant groups in Mindanao.
This is to primarily avoid a repeat of what transpired in Marawi City, much of which was left in ruins after five months of intense fighting between government troops and the Maute Group.
AFP spokesperson Maj. Gen. Restituto Padilla told Arab News: “We have adequately addressed all the possible threats that could complicate Marawi and true enough, and God willing, we were able to fortunately quell the enemy.
“And now we will refocus our efforts in other areas where potential threats may come from.”
Among those being pursued by the Philippine military is the group of jihadist Esmail Abdulmalik, alias Abu Toraife, leader of a faction of the Bangsamoro Islamic Liberation Front (BIFF). Like the Maute Group, the BIFF has pledged allegiance to Daesh.
Based on reports from the army, air strikes were launched following information that Abdulmalik’s group was sighted at the forested borders of Barangays Tonganon and Bentangan in the municipality of Carmen in North Cotabato this week.
However, Padilla noted that the capabilities of Daesh sympathizers such as the BIFF and the Ansar Al-Khilafah are “not at the level of the group that attacked Marawi.”
Sidney Jones, a regional security expert, earlier described Abdulmalik as a possible contender to be the successor of Isnilon Hapilon, the Daesh-designated emir in Southeast Asia. Hapilon was killed by government forces in October during the final push for the liberation of Marawi City.
Jones notes, however, that Abdulmalik “lacks the international ties, language skills and charisma that made the Mautes so potent.”
Nonetheless the military is continuously addressing these threats, said Padilla. “And we’ll continue to do so in other areas like Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi to prevent (the threat) from growing,” said the AFP spokesman.
He also emphasized that operations against such groups were in progress before the Marawi crisis broke out. Padilla said the BIFF even attempted to make a move during the Marawi siege, but that was thwarted by the military.
Meanwhile, government forces have arrested three suspected members of the Abu Sayyaf Group during a raid at a residential unit in Salaam Compound in Culiat, in Metro Manila around 5:15 p.m. on Friday, a day before heads of state started to arrive in the Philippines for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Related Meetings.
Chief Superintendent Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar, Quezon City Police District Director, identified the suspects as Abdulgaffar Jikiri, alias Abu Bakar Jikiri, 19; Sadam Jhofar, 24; and Alim Sabtalin, 19.
The three were arrested in a joint action by the police, military personnel, elements of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency, and the National Bureau of Investigation counter-terrorism division.
The authorities recovered caliber 45 pistols, live magazine round, two M-203 rifle grenades and mobile phones.

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

Updated 10 December 2019

Hague hearing offers ray of hope to Bangladesh’s Rohingya

  • International Court of Justice seeks to address atrocities committed by Myanmar

DHAKA: Several members of the Rohingya community in Bangladesh’s Cox’s Bazar expressed optimism on Monday that the International Court of Justice (ICJ) would rule in their favor once it began its three-day hearing against Myanmar on Tuesday.

The case was filed by Gambia on behalf of all Muslim nations from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) with the ICJ over the alleged persecution of the Rohingya by the Myanmar military.

On Nov. 18, the court decided to hold the hearings from Dec.10 to 12. Gambia’s justice minister will lead his country during the hearings.

Both Canada and Bangladesh have been supporting Gambia by providing different data and information regarding the atrocities against the Rohingya.

Myanmar’s state councillor and its de facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, has already reached  the Netherlands to lead the defense lawyers on behalf of her country at the ICJ.

Bangladesh Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque will remain present at the courtroom to witness the process.

He will lead a 20-member team, comprising government officials and civil society representatives.

Rohingya at Cox’s Bazar are highly optimistic of securing justice at the ICJ.

“We think justice will be ensured because all international human rights groups, different UN organizations and the international community have got evidence of the persecution on the Rohingya. All of them have visited the refugee camps many times and listened to the plight of the Rohingya,” Sawyed Ullah, a community leader from Jamtoli, told Arab News.

“Also, we have strong evidences of atrocities committed by the Myanmar government to root out the Rohingya from their birth place, Rakhine,” Ullah added.

“Without ensuring accountability, there will not be any safety and justice in Rakhine. Once the accountability is restored,  all of us will be able to go back home.”

Ramjan Ali, another refugee from the Kutupalang camp, said: “Myanmar’s government has forcibly displaced the Rohingya from their own land and that compelled us to shelter here at the refugee camps. Isn’t it enough evidence to justify our allegations against the Myanmar government?”

Ramjan Ali added: “Still the situation in Rakhine is very bad as we receive information from our relatives over there. We need protection from the international forces before any repatriation, and the ICJ’s decision will be helpful for us in this regard.”

Rohingya human rights activist Nay San Lwin, co-founder of the German-based Free Rohingya Coalition described the ICJ’s move as historic.

“It is first ever since we are persecuted. We have been seeking for justice since very long time,” Lwin told Arab News, adding that “finally the case is now at the world court and although it will take several years we are now excited for provisional measures from the court.”

Lwin, along with some 200 Rohingya rights activists from around the world, is set to hold a protest rally at the Hague from Dec. 11 during the ICJ’s hearing.

“We are expecting very much from the ICJ. Regardless whether Myanmar follows the decisions of the court this will have a huge impact. There won’t be any other justice mechanisms if this international court of justice can’t ensure the justice for us,” added Lwin.

Expressing his frustration on the repatriation process, Lwin said that the Myanmar government still had a “genocidal policy” on the Rohingya.

“I don’t think repatriation of the Rohingya will take place soon unless the government is considering to fulfill our demands,” he said.

The ICJ’s final decision will hold strong significance as any decisions taken by the ICJ are binding on member states.

Both Gambia and Myanmar are signatories of the Genocide Convention.