In a press statement, Suara Bangsamoro called for ceasefire and urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines to respect the Muslims’ observance of the fasting month.
“This is in response to the statement made by Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. that the AFP offensives would continue in Sulu despite Ramadhan,” said Amirah Ali Lidasan, secretary-general of Suara Bangsamoro.
Lidasan said civilians would have difficulties in their religious observance during the Ramadhan.
“Fasting on the month of Ramadhan is one of the five pillars of Islam which is compulsory for all Muslims to observe. This means that for a Muslim to observe this pillar, he or she must be in an environment that is conducive for a peaceful observance, for more concentration on their religious meditation,” she explained.
It is going to be very difficult for civilian Muslims in Sulu to observe the fast knowing that they will be displaced whenever a military operation starts in their area, she said.
Some displaced Sulu residents have told Suara Bangsamoro how difficult their lives had been since the military offensives started in August.
“Most of them find it difficult to harvest their kamuntings (cassava), knowing that they are likely to be shot at whenever they go back to their communities that have been transformed into militarized zones,” she said.
Lidasan said the order of Esperon to continue offensive is very discriminatory towards the Moro people and shows the military chief’s disrespect to the Islamic religion.
“Although the military says they are targeting only the suspected Abu Sayyafs in the area, the military operations affect everyone in the community, displace families, disrupt their daily lives and destroy their livelihood,” she stressed. (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)