Moro leaders and youth activists condemn torture of fellow Moro activist by US, call for US-RP Balikatan exercises to stop

“It is an insult that our brother Jerome Succor Aba came to the US only to be tortured on US soil while US troops are very much welcomed by the government in our country. They even play war games in the ancestral lands of the Aytas,” Amirah Ali Lidasan, secretary general of Moro-Christian People’s Alliance said today at a press conference.

As the US-RP Balikatan Exercises commenced in Central Luzon, some Moro groups and youth expressed their condemnation to the torture of fellow Moro activist Jerome Succor Aba in the hands of the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) in San Francisco Airport last April 17.

The Moro leaders and youth at the press conference hit the Trump administration for its policy of the Muslim Ban in the US and glaring Islamophobia. “We Muslims are not terrorists. We did not invade sovereign lands to plunder its natural resources and terrorize people of other countries. We did torture anyone. That is what the US government does,” the group said.

The group also hit the neglect and inaction of the Philippine consulate in San Francisco during Aba’s 28-hour ordeal at the CBP. Despite  receiving endless phone calls from various organizations in the US and informed about the arbitrary detention of Aba,  the Philippine consulate officials except for a very brief call did not  bother to ensure that the rights of Aba are upheld and to check personally his situation. “If only the Consulate  took more decisive actions to personally check on Aba’s condition at the CBP, Aba would have not been subjected to a gruelling 28-hours of torture,” said the group during the press conference.

“The CBP even forced Aba to sign a blank paper and used his signature on documents that stated that Aba was treated humanely to cover up their torture,” the group said. Recently, Aba executed an Affidavit of Refutation on the signed document released by the CBP, insisting he was under duress and just wanted the torture to stop.

Aba, 25 years old, a national minority activist and co-chairperson of Sandugo-Movement of Moro and Indigenous Peoples for Self-Determination went to the US upon the invitation of the United Methodist Church to attend  the 2018 Ecumenical Advocacy Day in Washington, DC and after to join the Stop the Killings Speaking Tour in the US.  He was supposed to speak about the human rights and Martial Law situation in  Southern Philippines.

The Moro leaders and youth activists also hit the Duterte administration for continuing  pro-US and lopsided  foreign policies and agreements like the  Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) wherein US troops can  build so-called ‘rotational bases’ in the Philippines skirting the constitutional ban on foreign military bases.  They occupy ‘agreed locations’ even if these are ancestral territories of the Bangsamoro and the indigenous peoples.

“Despite Pres. Duterte’s rhetorics and posturing to veer away from US dependence, he  implement pro-US policies especially the US “War on Terror” where Filipinos the national minorities  suffer from its consequences. The Moro people and indigenous peoples face rapid plunder of our lands and resources, intensified repression and militarization, and heightened discrimination and Islamophobia,” concluded during the press conference.#

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