Muslims gather to boost stalled Philippine peace talks

Members of the 10,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front. (File photo: AFP)
Updated 27 November 2017

Muslims gather to boost stalled Philippine peace talks

SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines: The Philippines’ main Muslim guerrilla group staged a huge rally Monday at its southern headquarters that attracted Christians and rival rebels, in a joint effort with the government to reignite a stalled peace process.
President Rodrigo Duterte was scheduled to speak at the event at the main base of the 10,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front on Monday afternoon, with both sides hoping peace will help quell the rising threat of the Daesh group.
Muslims have been waging a rebellion since the 1970s seeking autonomy or independence in the southern areas of the mainly Catholic Philippines that they regard as their ancestral homeland.
The conflict has claimed more than 120,000 lives.
The MILF, the biggest rebel group, signed a peace deal in 2014 that would give the nation’s Muslim minority self-rule over parts of the southern region of Mindanao, but a proposed law to implement the pact has not been able to get through Congress.
The immediate objective of Monday’s rally was to build support for the proposed law.
“There is no way that we can find peace forever if we do not give them back at least a part of their heritage,” Duterte said in a speech last week, referencing Filipino Muslims who consider the south their homeland.
“If we do not give them that, there will be trouble because they will open really to (join a) cabal with the other terroristic activities or the terrorists there.”
The MILF had said it wanted a million people to turn up on Monday at its sprawling Camp Darapanan base just outside of Cotabato city in Mindanao.
No firm crowd numbers were immediately available on Monday morning but an AFP journalist at Camp Darapanan reported seeing tens of thousands of people.
Among those in attendance were Cardinal Orlando Quevedo, the archbishop of Cotabato and the highest Catholic Church official in Mindanao, as well as members of the MILF’s main rival, the Moro National Liberation Front.
The rally came about a month after Duterte declared the southern city of Marawi “liberated” from IS supporters who attacked it in May in a bid to put up a caliphate.


Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

Updated 05 August 2020

Pakistan PM Khan slams ‘oppressor’ India on Kashmir anniversary

  • Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status
  • Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it

MUZAFFARABAD, Pakistan: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan branded India an “oppressor and aggressor” on Wednesday, a year after New Delhi imposed direct rule on Indian-administered Kashmir.
Solidarity marches were held in all major Pakistani cities to mark the anniversary of New Delhi stripping Muslim-majority Indian Kashmir of its semi-autonomous status, a move that outraged Islamabad.
Kashmir, a disputed Himalayan territory, has been split since 1947 between India and Pakistan, both of which claim it in full and have fought wars over it.
“India stands exposed before the world, yet again, as an oppressor and aggressor,” Khan said in a statement.
“Its so-called secular and democratic credentials stand fully discredited,” he added, calling India’s action last year a “crime against humanity.”
Khan led a march through Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-administered-Kashmir, before addressing the region’s legislative assembly.
Across the city, more than 2,000 people turned out at a series of anti-India protests.
“We ask the world to give Kashmiris their right of self-determination, otherwise we will cross the Line of Control and help our brothers on the other side with arms,,” Arslan Ahmad, a refugee who fled Indian-administered Kashmir, told AFP.
“Half of my family is under siege in Indian-occupied Kashmir, my mother is dying to meet her sister, this dispute has left our generations torn apart,” 31-year old Usman Mir added.
Police were enforcing tight restrictions in Indian-administered Kashmir on Wednesday, where religious and political groups had called on residents to observe a “black day.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist government had promised the move would bring peace and prosperity to Indian Kashmir after three decades of violence sparked by an anti-India uprising.
Pakistan, however, has alleged it is a violation of the rights of Kashmiri people.
Khan accused India of trying to turn Kashmir’s Muslim majority into a minority by ending restrictions on outsiders buying up property “in blatant violation of... UN Security Council Resolutions and international laws.”
The change in rules has sparked fears that the Modi government is pursuing an Israel-style “settler” project.
A referendum in Kashmir mandated by a UN resolution in 1948 has never taken place.
“India has learned from Israel how to change the demography (of Kashmir),” President Arif Alvi told a rally in the Pakistani capital Islamabad, which observed a one-minute silence.
Hundreds of billboards and banners displayed graphic images purportedly of human rights violations by Indian authorities in Kashmir.
On Tuesday, Pakistan released a new official map showing all of Kashmir as its territory.
The Pakistan military, meanwhile, said Indian troops had fired a shell across the de-facto border, killing a young woman and wounding six other people.
Such exchanges are common along the Kashmir demarcation line, with shells blasted in both directions.