In a statement posted on its website, http://www.nvpf.org/, the Nonviolent Peaceforce said Umar Jaleel, 36, a Sri Lankan national who is a civilian peacekeeper working in Basilan “was taken from the Nonviolent Peaceforce residence by a group of armed men.”
“The motive for his abduction is not known, nor is the affiliation, if any, or identity of his captors,” it said.
“Nonviolent Peaceforce Mindanao has been working with authorities, non-governmental organizations and community members since shortly after Umar Jaleel was taken from the Nonviolent Peaceforce residence. Nonviolent Peaceforce Mindanao is working with Nonviolent Peaceforce Sri Lanka to inform his family and set up regular communication to keep them up to date on the facts,” the statement added.
Nonviolent Peaceforce is an international, non-governmental organization based in Brussels. It is a “nonpartisan unarmed peacekeeping force composed of trained civilians from around the world. In partnership with local groups, Nonviolent Peaceforce members apply proven nonviolent strategies to protect human rights, deter violence, and help create space for local peacemakers to carry out their work.
As a Sri Lankan peaceworker and a Muslim, Jaleel is “widely admired and respected in the area of Basilan, where he is working.”
The organization said it is “doing all it can to ensure his safe return and urges Umar Jaleel's captors to release him unharmed as quickly as possible. “
It also said it “does not pay ransom and requests all parties concerned to seek a nonviolent return.”
Jaleel, who hails from Muthur in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka, is an “experienced peaceworker who has been involved in resolving community disputes among communities in the Trincomalee District prior to being deployed to the Philippines.”
Jaleel, who speaks 6 languages, was hired by Nonviolent Peaceforce in 2004 to support its work with vulnerable families affected by armed conflict in the Muthur area.
In Cotabato City, the Bangsamoro Center for Justpeace in the Phil's. Inc. (BCJP) condemned the abduction and appealed to his abductors to “immediately release him unconditionally.”
In its statement dated February 13 and signed by BCJP Executive Director Bobby Benito, BCJP
said “Jaleel has fallen victim of the very violence that he has been trying to deter.”
“We readily lend our moral support and prayers as we continue to move mountains and hound the heavens for his safety and early release,” Benito said as it appealed to “the law enforcers and the military to exhaust all peaceful methods of negotiation in working out the release of the kidnap victim.”
BCJP also called on religious leaders from both Christians and Muslims, “to extend whateve
r possible support.” (MindaNews)