Ceasefire monitor asks MILF to ensure fair treatment of POWs—report | Global News
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Ceasefire monitor asks MILF to ensure fair treatment of POWs—report

By: - Correspondent / @inqmindanao
/ 08:27 PM October 23, 2011

DAVAO City, Philippines–An international humanitarian law (IHL) expert has asked the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to make its ground forces aware of human rights laws in times of war, the rebel group said in an announcement issued on Friday.

The MILF said Cynthia Petrigh, head of the civilian protection component of the International Monitoring Team (IMT), saw the need for the MILF leadership to strengthen the capability of guerrillas to understand and respect human rights laws in times of war and the protection of the prisoners of war (POWs).

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Petrigh met with Toks Ebrahim, a member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces’ (BIAF) general staff, last Wednesday in Maguindanao, a day after MILF rebels ambushed and killed 19 soldiers in Al-Barka, Basilan, as the government forces were about to serve a warrant of arrest on an MILF member tagged in war atrocity a few years ago.

Petrigh, according to the announcement posted on the MILF’s website, expressed concern about reports that six soldiers who were already captured by the MILF rebels and should have been treated as POWs, were executed.

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The mutilation of their bodies was also disturbing, she was quoted as saying.

The MILF has constantly denied reports and military claims its forces held POWs in Al-Barka, only to execute them later.

“There was no prisoner of war. All the soldiers were killed during the encounter,” Mohagher Iqbal, MILF chief negotiator, said.

Iqbal said the Al-Barka killings were the result of a legitimate encounter and that their forces did not violate international humanitarian laws.

“They entered the perimeter defense of a BIAF without any coordination,” Ebrahim agreed, referring to rebel-held territories recognized under the ceasefire agreement between the Philippine government and the MILF.

But Lieutenant General Raymundo Ferrer said the clash occurred outside the MILF camp in  Barangay (village) Cambug. He added that the soldiers were enforcing an arrest warrant – on  behalf of the police – on Dan Laksaw Asnawi, an MILF commander being sought for kidnapping and other charges.

Ferrer said based on their ground reports, six soldiers had been taken captive during the clash but were executed by MILF forces there. The bodies of the soldiers were recovered there, also last Wednesday.

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Basilan Vice Governor Al Rasheed Sakalahul said the mutilation of the bodies occurred when they were retrieving them.

He said a woman, whose husband was among the six MILF rebels killed, arrived as they were wrapping one of the bodies using a malong.

“She hacked the cadaver but we managed to subdue her before further mutilating the dead soldier,” Sakalahul said.

After the woman had been disarmed, he said that a boy – armed with a rifle – suddenly arrived and started shooting at three cadavers.

“The incidents were witnessed by two journalists,” Sakalahul said.

Sakalahul confirmed that one of the bodies they had retrieved was so damaged that the head was nearly severed.

“But it’s not hack wound. It was most likely that the dead soldier absorbed the impact of an explosion,” he said.

Sakalahul is a former soldier.

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TAGS: Armed conflict, Cynthia Petrigh, Human Rights, Insurgency, international humanitarian law, justice and rights, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, Moro rebellion, Philippines - Regions, Rebellion
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