Global Peace gab calls on IMT to stay

The Global Article 9 Conference to Abolish War accepted a resolution which also sought support for the active participation of civil society and the grassroots in any peace process. The resolution called on all third party government facilitators, mediators, brokers and negotiators to accompany any peace process until a lasting agreement is reached.

Conference Co- Chairman Yoshioka Tatsuya, who is also Director of the Peaceboat that was the main organizer of the conference, said that "peace is important not only for Mindanao but also for the region.” Yoshioka also asked the Malaysians to "be more patient" while calling on the Philippine government to likewise be more sincere in the negotiations.

Yoshioka also called on the Japanese government to do more for peace in the island and likewise convince the Malaysian government to stay on in the IMT. Japanese Prime Minister Fukuda recently announced that Japan should be a "Peace Cooperative State" and should thus put this commitment into more concrete practice.

Some 22,000 people attended the conference which re-affirmed support for the retention of the Article 9 of the Japanese constitution that renounces war as a policy.  More than 100 international guests were present. The conference was held amidst pressure from the Bush government and militarist elements within Japanese society to amend the constitution to allow Japan to deploy military forces in Iraq and elsewhere. If Article 9 goes, Japan's business sector can also start to churn out war materials for export.   A recent national survey published by the  Asahi Shimbun- Japan's leading newspaper- has however showed that an overwhelming majority of the Japanese people  want  Article 9 retained and even replicated around the world.

Meanwhile, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC) network in Northeast, South and Southeast Asia expressed concern for the stalled Mindanao peace talks and the reported impending pullout of the Malaysian IMT presence. GPPAC expressed fears that the Malaysian pullout may create conditions to attract elements more prone to violence in the region. GPPAC likewise paid tribute to civil society and citizens efforts in Mindanao to actively engage the peace process.

On May 3, Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate in 1976 for her role in the peace process in Northern Ireland endorsed Mindanao civil society's appeal for the Malaysian-led IMT to stay on.  She also called on the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to actively and sincerely pursue peace talks whatever it takes.

Maguire, who is among the guests in the global forum here, led citizens efforts in Northern Ireland to get the Irish Republican Army, the British government and the divided population of Catholic and Protestant Northern Ireland to seek the path of non-violence and peace in resolving their animosities and conflicts.  Her efforts along with others eventually paid of with both the IRA and its political wing Sein Fein striking a deal to co-govern Northern Ireland with their Protestant political rivals.

Maguire has promised to assist continuing efforts for peace in Mindanao by asking her co-women laureates to likewise endorse her own appeal.  She is also willing to come to Mindanao to share her experiences in peacebuilding in Northern Ireland. (Gus Miclat, Executive Director of the Davao-based Initiatives for International Dialogue is attending the same conference. IID is the Southeast Asia initiator of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict.  IID convened APCET and has likewise initiated peace and dialogue efforts in Mindanao).

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