Time and again it is proven with small successes, and sometimes big ones, that humanity thrives even in great adversity and have never lost its hope for life and for a peaceful world. However, it strikes a hard cord when we do realize that working and living in conflict pose very real threats to both friends and foes, and fellow peace workers.
Recently, UNYPAD’s Badrodin Abbas was shot dead by an unknown assailant in Cotabato City. He is certainly one peace worker worth remembering. There are several stories attributed to his death. It could be that he was killed due to his work as a radio broadcaster and a peace activist and worker, or it could be that it was a case of mistaken identity, or that he and his family might be involved in a “rido.”
Whatever the reasons are, this senseless killing has left behind his wife and children. But most importantly, although Badrodin maybe only one of the many, his loss has created a dent among his friends and fellow peace workers.
Badrodin has been part of the many dreamers for peace in Mindanao. He has been part of those who are tirelessly consumed in this difficult field of peace work. While to the majority of the newsreading public, Badrodin may not be as popular as other names, he is a young man who has earned respects not only from his colleagues at UNYPAD and UNYPHIL, but also from those who have met him in trainings, conferences, and many more meetings on Mindanao.
I first met Badrodin as a participant of our SEACSN Training Program on Conflict Resolution in Thailand in 2005. In the presence of other international participants, he was shy and thrifty with words, but always full of smiles. But when it comes to his advocacy work for Mindanao, he was not shy at all to step forward and share his views.
The last time I met him was during the August 5, 2008 MOA-AD non-signing event at Putrajaya. Just like all of us who were there, he, too was excited and dressed in his best business suit to witness such an important and awaited occasion. In spite of the disappointing non-signing, everyone instead took the chance of enjoying each other’s company—all peace workers in one roof. They shared stories and laughter amidst the unsettling thought that that fateful day could trigger more violence back home.
I spent some brief conversations with Badrodin and his friends. Mostly we talked about Mindanao and the future of the peace process. And although the future holds so much uncertainty, it was very comforting to know that there are many young NGO workers who continue to dedicate so much of their time to the achievement of peace, including Badrodin.
This article does not only aim to give praise to Badrodin and his contributions to his community, but also to many other unnamed peace workers. They who are so dynamic and always occupied with more things on their plate that they often forget that they themselves may be facing security problems.
How many times do they show great courage when they travel in conflict communities? How many times do they tell themselves that despite poor health they have to persevere for the sake of others?…and despite lack of personal resources, it is their obligation to extend help to those who need it most? How can they explain this sense of consciousness that they are doing the right thing for peace? …when they talk and write about the truth that liberates victims and innocent lives?
Badrodin is a fine example of a good peace worker, but little do we know that at such a young age, he will fall victim himself to this threat of viole
nce in Mindanao.
In all of Badrodin’s hard work and efforts, I am sure he was always steadfast and never gave up hope for peace. It is this remembrance that others like him can also continue to muster deep faith and courage as peace workers and advocates. And that hopefully, the younger generations will learn to appreciate ordinary people like Badrodin—a peace worker until the end.
(Ayesah Abubakar is the coordinator of the Mindanao Peace Program at the Research & Education for Peace Universiti Sains Malaysia or REPUSM in Penang, Malaysia. E-mail email@example.com.)