Friday, September 20, 2013

Philippines: Mistreatment, Hostage-Taking in Zamboanga

Times are tough in the city of Zamboanga, on the southern coast of the Philippines, on the island of Mindanao. Civil conflict racks the once prosperous trading city. And both sides of the conflict are committing human rights abuses. The Philippines government military and police have "allegedly tortured or otherwise mistreated suspected rebels in custody" ( On the other end, the rebels of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) have taken several civilians hostage and many of those civilians have been used as human shields against the government military shootings. 

"More than 112,000 residents have been displaced by the fighting as of September 18, according to the Department of Social Welfare and Development" ( The rebel groups have taken several dozen civilians into hostage and have been using them as human shields against the government military. These civilians include families with young children and several hostages have died because of this. This is a major human rights violation because it is never ok to bring civilians into war and it certainly is not ok to use the innocent people as human shields. I believe it is wrong to bring civilians into fighting and for there to be no distinction between civilians and combatants of the fighting. On the other hand, the Philippine police have taken several rebels into custody and they have been mistreated or tortured severely. Conditions in the prison are poor and many suspected rebels have been held for over a week without being officially charged. Torture and mistreatment of prisoners is not acceptable either. The suspects are humans as well and they should be given reasonable conditions in the prison. Also, the government should not have shot at the rebel groups when they knew innocent hostages were among the group. 

Both ends of this conflict have severe human rights violations. I believe that both ends should take a step back and examine the damage they are incurring. So many residents are being killed or mistreated on top of the thousands of residents who have been displaced. The rebels who took hostages and used them as human shields should be punished, but the government officials who carried out torture on the prisoners and agreed to shooting at the rebels when hostages were present should also be punished. I hope this conflict is resolved. I think this conflict could have been resolved with nonviolence. 

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1 comment:

  1. Rabeea - I think you point to the horrible consequences of war. As much as one would like to say that war only involves the fighters, this is never, ever true. War is always total war - on countries, on communities, on families. As war and conflict drag on, people get more and more disillusioned sometimes and they no longer value human life. So something like taking hostages becomes a viable way to attack the enemy.