Bangsamoro leaders attend international forum on peace in Malaysia

SOME Bangsamoro Leaders and a representatives from Bangsamoro civil society organization attended the fourth consolidation for peace international forum held in Penang, Malaysia on February 21-25, 2011.

University Sains Malaysia organized the forum under its program on research and education for peace in partnership with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) aimed at consolidating the experiences of the three existing groups who are affected by armed conflicts – Aceh in Indonesia, Patani in Southern Thailand, and Mindanao Philippines.

The seminar “Transforming the conflicts and Supporting the Peace Builders in Aceh, Southern Thailand and Mindanao,” inspired by the similarities in the conflict situations in these areas dominated by Muslims aiming to achieve genuine right to self determination and freedom.

Around hundred of leaders mostly from the three countries attended forum. Representatives from respective governments were invited to explain their policy and positions on how to build and consolidate peace.

Prof. Abhoud Syed M. Lingga, Executive director of the Institute of Bangsamoro Studies shared his paper “The challenges of Starting, Maintaining and Sustaining the Peace Process: The Mindanao Case.”

Highlighted in the presentation were the historical roots of the conflict in Mindanao and the status of the 14-year old peace talk between the GPH and MILF, the challenges and prospects of the negotiations in the midst of given strong hands from the spoilers of the peace process and the lack of political will of the government to resolve the conflict.

The peace process between the government and MILF started in 1997 to resolve the sovereignty based-conflict that is the Bangsamoro Question in Southern Philippines which had been in the agenda of the Organization of Islamic Conference since 1970s.

Three major wars had been waged by the government against the MILF in years 2000, 2003 and 2008 which only elevated the political and diplomatic arena of the conflict.

Presently the peace process is being facilitated by the government of Malaysia. Its infrastructures and mechanism include the International Contact Group (ICG) composed of Japan, Great Britain, Turkey and Saudi, The Asia Foundation, Center for Humanitarian Dialogue, and Muhammadiyyah; the International Monitoring Team (IMT) composed ofMalaysia, Libya, Brunei, Japan, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Mindanao Peoples Caucus, Mindanao Human Rights Action Center and Moslem Organization of Government Employees and Professionals; the ceasefire committees and the Bangsamoro Development Agency.

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