Friday, July 29, 2011

Philippine Army accused of torturing civilian

Photos taken by a nongovernmental organization in Basilan province show torture victim Abdul Khan Ajid.

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / July 29, 2011) – The Philippine military on Friday ordered an investigation into the reported torture of a Muslim man who was arrested by soldiers in the southern province of Basilan, officials said.

Army rangers were accused of torturing Abdul Khan Ajid into admitting he is member of the militant group Abu Sayyaf. Military interrogators allegedly poured gasoline on the man’s face and body and private parts and lit him up. A small gas bottle was also inserted in his anus, his sister Haniba Musaddam said.

“We are now investigating this report of torture. I have ordered the Western Mindanao Command human rights officers to submit a report of their investigation in three days,” Army Colonel Domingo Tutaan, the head of the human rights office of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Anybody involved in this torture regardless of their ranks, units and position will be dealt severely if they are found guilty. We will look into their culpability and the actions we are going to take against them depend on the outcome of the investigation. There will be due process in this investigation,” he said.

Ajid’s family denied all accusations against him. They are seeking justice for the 39-year old baker now languishing in jail despite his critical condition due to third degree burns he suffered from the torture.

“We need immediate help to save the life of my brother whose condition is now critical due to his burns. We need to bring him to the hospital. We are appealing to President Aquino to help my brother and give us justice,” Musaddam said.

Troops arrested Ajid on July 23 in his house in the village called Libug in Sumisip town and detained him at an army base in Isabela City where he was tortured for four days.

Ajid was handed over to prison officials after his family filed a petition to a local court for writ of amparo, a remedy for the protection of constitutional rights of citizens.

The victim’s family said the soldiers had mistaken Ajid for Kanneh Malikil, who was the subject of a local arrest warrant. Soldiers were also spotted near the family’s house and were believed to be spying on them.

The Commission on Human Rights in Zamboanga City said it is also investigating the torture and would send a team on Saturday to Basilan to look into the condition of Ajid.

In February, a video uploaded on the social networking site Facebook showed soldiers in Basilan beating up four men whose faces were covered and hands tied behind their back.

The video was believed taken by one of the soldiers from his cell phone and showed about a dozen marines at a coconut farm taking turns in punching and kicking the still unidentified men as they lay helpless on the ground.

Some of the victims were crying and begging the soldiers to stop the beatings, but it continued more with some of them threatening to execute the four men. It was unknown whether the men were civilians or rebels, but security officials who watched the clip said the video was probably taken between 2008 and 2009.

It was not immediately known when the video was taken and whether the four men had been killed by the soldiers. The clip ran for almost 2 minutes and can be accessed on this URL

Two soldiers also kicked one of the men on the face after he was told to stand up, but he could hardly walk because of the beatings. “Walk, you animal, walk,” one soldier shouted at the man, whose face was covered with a hood just like the others.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines also ordered an investigation into the torture, but has not release any finding since then. (Midnanao Examiner)

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