Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Moro Women's Group Accuses Military Of Illegal Arrest, Torture

BASILAN (Mindanao Examiner / 27 Mar) – An independent organization of Muslim women accused Tuesday the Philippine military of arresting a teenager on suspicion that he is a member of the terror group Abu Sayyaf in Basilan island off the southern Philippines.

SUARA Fatimats said soldiers arrested Al Jakirani who was mistaken as Abu Usman, a notorious Abu Sayyaf member wanted for murder and kidnappings on the island six years ago.

It said Jakirani is not a member of the Abu Sayyaf and demanded his safe release. His arrest, the group said, violated Jakirani’s rights provided in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Revised Penal Code which protects the rights of alleged offenders under the age of eighteen.

“Jakirani, a pedicab driver in Basilan’s Isabela City, was waiting for passengers at the wharf on March 10 when five soldiers from the Naval Intelligence Special Group (NISG) accosted him and took him forcibly aboard a navy boat toward Zamboanga City for his alleged involvement in the 2001 Golden Harvest kidnapping as Abu Usman,” it said in a statement sent to the Mindanao Examiner.

The group said Jakirani was only 11 years old and peddling goods at the wet market in 2001, when Abu Sayyaf militants raided the Golden Harvest rubber plantation in Lamitan town and kidnapped and beheaded 11 farmers.SUARA said the arrest was a mistake.

Nudjum Jandul, SUARA Fatimats chairperson, said Usman’s real name is Al Hari Jakiri.

Jakirani’s family also accused the military of torturing the teenager during interrogation in Zamboanga City, a charge strongly denied by the authorities.

“Medical examination conducted by a government hospital on Jakirani revealed several chest, external and abdominal contusions which resulted from torture during his tactical interrogation, according to his relatives, while the medical examination conducted by the military indicated that the abrasions resulted from an accidental fall,” it said.

Jakirani said he was mauled by his captors and that they also electrocuted his genital during interrogation.

The military insisted that soldiers arrested Abu Usman.“As far as know, we have arrested Abu Usman, who is a notorious member of the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf,” Major Eugene Batara, spokesman of the military’s Western Command, told the Mindanao Examiner on Tuesday.

Jakirani is currently detained in Basilan Provincial Jail. He is the fourth “Abu Usman” suspect detained in the jail.“It almost looks like the military is out to fish as many Abu Usman as they want. We just learned that aside from the four already detained, two other individuals claimed by the military as Abu Usman are already dead: Usman Nasalil a.k.a. Abu Usman was killed in an encounter in Jolo, Sulu while Salip Usman a.k.a. Abu Usman was killed in 2002”, Jandul said.

“Arbitrary arrests and illegal detention of innocent people – this is a reality now in Basilan. This is without the Anti-terror Law in force. Once that law is applied, it will only embolden the military in arresting anyone. We fear for the worst - for our families, for ourselves,” she said.

The Abu Sayyaf group is tied to al-Qaeda terror network and has been blamed for many kidnappings, murders and bombings in the Philippines, particularly in the troubled southern region.

Many of its members and supporters have been arrested the past years in Basilan island and other provinces after civilians, fed up with Abu Sayyaf atrocities, provided information to authorities that led to their arrests. (Mindanao Examiner)

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