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Geneva Call, MILF app launched

Cotabato City—Parties in conflict in the Philippines should recognize and uphold the rights and welfare of people displaced by hostilities, communications representatives of the International Committee on the Red Cross said over the weekend.

In a dialogue with the Manila Standard, Dr. Ameur Zemmali, the French-Ethiopian international communication coordinator of the ICRC, said the humanitarian organization’s continuing dialogue with parties in conflict has been fruitful with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, which has designated people knowledgeable of the sharia or Islamic law on armed conflict to help educate their own ranks.

As ICRC forum adviser at the 2002 Convention on “Humanitarian Law and Islam,” Zemmali concurred into “Universal Islam’s doctrines that predate IHL (International Humanitarian Law),” presented by the Syrian scholar, Dr. Wahbeh Al-Zuhili, who is considered an authority on Islamic law. 

For its part, the Geneva Call Campaign has established its office in Cotabato City to better engage parties to armed conflict for the protection of civilians under the IHL—women and children, particularly— in armed skirmishes.

A set of “Geneva Call Apps” are now downloadable from the internet onto cellular phones in English (and local dialects) in easy to understand illustrated comic plates and dialogues.

Architect Edward Guerra, in charge of MILF Foreign Relations, says the Front upholds provisions of the Geneva Conventions applicable in the local setting, and that it has developed its own manual of compliance in accordance with Islamic Sharia and International Laws on Conflict.

Guerra says the MILF has shunned recruitment of minor into its ranks of combatants even in past incidents of armed conflict between the Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces as non-state actor, and state forces.

“In the past, it was thought that age of puberty in Islam was the same as age of maturity and age of responsibility and capability. Well, it was not, because one’s responsibility in the military service needs a special kind of training for one to be able to deliver well and to become capable of handling the service required of the person,” Guerra said.

The University of the Philippines-Institute of Islamic Studies (UP-IIS) was helping ICRC in the Philippines develop educational modules from applicable provisions of the Geneva Conventions Humanitarian Welfare, which are harmonized with Sharia on the rights and protection of people displaced by armed conflict.

Lany de la Cruz, ICRC communication officer, said booklets of the module will be printed in selected Moro dialects, mainly Taosug, Maguindanao, Maranao, and Yakan.

De la Cruz said the UP-IIS-drafted manuscript of the locally translated provisions of the Geneva Conventions on Humanitarian Welfare has been presented for critiquing and inputs to teams of learned Muslims, separately designated for the purpose by the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).

Topics: International Committee on the Red Cross , Ameur Zemmali , Moro Islamic Liberation Front , Lany de la Cruz
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