Philippine Solidarity Network of Aotearoa




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Speaking Tour of NZ:

23 Oct - 1 Nov 2007

Amirah Lidasan

Tour Report

Stop The Killings

in The Philippines


Amirah Ali Lidasan, 33, Female September 23, 1974

Lidasan clan comes from the Iranon tribe of Matanog and Parang, Maguindanao. Lost her father at the age of three months old while her mother remarried and was separated from her, as per customs of the clan in her ancestral home. She grew up at the care of her aunt and uncle who adopted her when she was still a child and was raised along with her four cousins.

She spent early part of her childhood in Maguindanao, but because of the war in Mindanao due to the imposition of Martial Law in the Philippines, her family moved to Manila. Her uncle's brothers were affiliated with the Moro National Liberation Front in the 70's. Her uncle who raised her was himself accused of helping rebels because of his profession. He is a medical doctor and was in Jolo, Sulu in 1974 when the whole municipality was burned to the ground by the Marcos administration.

She studied in Manila and graduated at the University of the Philippines, BA Journalism. She was active in college organizations like the Union of Journalists of the Philippines and Center for Nationalist Studies. She was elected as the chairperson of the College of Mass Communications in 1994 and was elected as the Executive-Vice President of the National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP), a nationwide organization of student councils and governments in the Philippines. In 1995 she served as the National President.

After graduation, she volunteered for Karapatan and one of the federations of the Kilusang Mayo Uno. In 1999, Karapatan did a fact-finding mission and advocacy for the human rights victims in Maguindanao, and Amirah was asked to help in the formation of an advocacy group fighting for the rights of the Moro people. This led to the formation of an alliance of Moro, Christian and Indigenous People recognizing and fighting for the rights of the Moro people. In August 1999, the Moro-Christian People's Alliance was established.

She was visiting her grandmother in Matanog, Maguindanao in 2000 when President Joseph Estrada declared an All-Out War against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and ordered its military to attack MILF's central Camp Abubakar, which was near her ancestral home.

Together with her grandmother, she became also an evacuee, fleeing her ancestral home while government military troops were pounding Camp Abubakar and all the neighbouring areas. It was then that Amirah became most vocal in her advocacy against the all-out war of the government that affected not only the MILF but all Moro areas. She was helped by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) and the Promotion for Church People's Response (PCPR) in visiting Philippine lawmakers in Batasan to petition them to ask President Estrada to stop the all-out war.

The National Council of Churches of the Philippines and the Christian Conference in Asia also helped in propagating Amirah's plea of justice to her Moro brothers and sister who were victims of all-out war by inviting her to international conferences that asked her to give testimonies of the Moro people's plight. She was also asked by Gabriela Women's Organization to represent the Moro women to a dialogue with the United Nation's Rapporteur on Violence Against Women in Sri Lanka in 2000.

In 2001, she participated in the EDSA II uprising where she rallied the Moro people in Metro Manila who were vicitms of illegal arrests and who were made "fall guys" for the series of bombings in Metro Manila and Mindanao.

Amirah considers the successor of Estrada, Ms. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, as a traitor to the EDSA II uprising and to the Moro people. For while the next president offered peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in 2001, she continued the policy of attacking the Moro people's rights. she continued the policy of illegal arrests and detention of Moro people used as fall guys.

In September 2001, the MCPA along with Karapatan and Bayan led the fact-finding mission in Basilan, Mindanao where more than 500 Moro people were killed, arrested and detained as a result of Arroyo's declaration of intensive military crackdown against the Abu Sayyaf sympathizers and supporters. The crackdown did not end the Abu Sayyaf, but it did destroy the lives of many Moro people in Basilan, Sulu and Zamboanga City. This crackdown also served as the pretext for the coming of the US troops in Basilan where the President declared as the venue for their Balikatan military exercises. The MCPA stayed and organized in Basilan to monitor the Balikatan along with Karapatan, and on July 2002, they led the international fact-finding mission which exposed the human rights violations of the US troops against the Moro people and the government's disregard tot he rights of the Moro people by making the US troops take Basilan as their target areas.

The futile attempts of the MCPA and other Moro organizations to make their Moro lawmakers take the stand of the victims of human rights violation was the reason why in 2002 MCPA led the formation of the Suara Bangsamoro Partylist, a partylist organization of the Moro people who vowed to actively pursue the Moro people's economic, social and civil and political rights in Congress. She served as the national vice-chairperson and was elected as the second nominee.
But due to the massive election rigging and cheating of President Arroyo, with which the Moro governors from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, the Suara Bangsamoro failed to get a seat in Congress. Suara Bangsamoro was also a victim of red-tagging of the Arroyo administration, lumped together with Bayan Muna and the rest of the progressive partylists.

In the Moro provinces, the Armed Forces of the Philippines harassed governors and mayors and Suara members in the Moro communites and disbarred the Moro people from voting. Those who were able to vote, the military who were manning the election results made sure that the Suara and other progressive partylist votes would not be counted. Despite of this, Amirah continued to serve both as the secretary-general of the Moro-Christian People's Alliance and the national vice-chairperson of the Suara Bangsamoro Partylist. She is currently based in her hometown Cotabato City and roams Mindanao to solicit the support for Suara Bangsamoro and the fight of the Moro people.