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The Official Publication of the Moro Human Rights Center Inc.


Volume 1 Issue 1

Cover Story:
More of the Same
by Erwin Francis Gaerlan

The Many Facets of Conflict Resolution
by Sophia Dimalog

by Erwin M. Gaerlan

The Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights

A Human Rights Framework For the Moro Struggle
by Cris M.Gaerlan, Jr.

Signs of Peace
by Sahara (Samira Gutoc)

by Faith Joan C. Mesa

News Bits
IMAN binuo ng mga estudyante
Moro Civilians Abducted by Military
- Jamal Matanog

Poetry Economics of War

The Many Facets of Conflict Resolution
by Sophia Dimalog

I would like to take this opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation to the following: the United States Department of State through the Office of International Visitors Program, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, Headed by Kathleen A. Brion as Acting Director; Maggie Gutierrez, Program Officer; Veronica Hall, Program Coordinator; the staff and officers of the Phelps Stokes Fund, through their representative Thea Richard, Program Officer and Amira Maaty, Program Associate; the United States Embassy here in the Philippines through the office of the first secretary for Political Affairs Nelson Richard; our English Language Officers, Alan Ponikvan and William Tony Seasolt, our very efficient guides and companions and to all our speakers who have made this trip very successful and enlightening.

I’m glad and honored to be a part of the studies tour for the International Visitors Program in the United States which tackled Conflict Resolution and Development with the themes: Conflict Resolution Training, Education and Research; International Policy Formulation and Development Initiatives Mediation. The Philippine delegation was composed of Atty. Anwar Abni Malang, City Councilor of Cotabato City, Dr. Susana Y. Salvador-Anayatin, Chief Trade and Industry Development Specialist, Department of Trade and Industry (Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao Regional office), Atty. Saidona A. Singgon, Senior Trade and Industry Development Specialist, Department of Trade and Industry, Cotabato City, Professor Julkipli Wadi, Assistant Professor, Institute of Islamic Studies University of the Philippines.

My experience provided a venue for understanding American Culture especially the history of minority American struggle. These gave us a chance to meet the different professionals, groups, schools, institutions who are experts in conflict resolution and analysis.

The study tour started in Washington D.C. at the U.S Department of State where we were treated for launch while the programs and goals of the Phelps Stokes Fund were explained. The first guest speaker, Dr. Gary Weaver from the American University School of International Services, gave an overview of the cultural aspects of conflict. A very stimulating discussion on the role and attitudes of Congress with regards to the Mindanao conflict followed.

The whole day was spent discussing crucial issues on conflict resolution. Mr. Hart discussed mediation as a technique used to resolve conflict. Imam Abdul-Rasheed Muhannad shared with us his experiences as the first Muslim chaplain in the U.S. Army. He also noted the increasing number of Muslim converts.

Ms. Calista Downey, USAID Desk Officer for the Philippines gave us an overview of the USAID Project in Mindanao. Mr. Christian M. Castro discussed the U.S. government policies and initiatives related to the Mindanao conflict. He assured the delegates that the ongoing Balikatan exercise is a purely military exercise between the Philippines and the US government. Ms. Amina Rasul-Bernardo, Senior Fellow of US Institute for Peace and Dr. Timothy Docking, Program Officer related the role of their organization on the development of policies pertaining to the Mindanao conflict.

At the Georgetown University, we had the opportunity to exchange experiences on the struggle of minority peoples with Imam Yahya M. Hendi, a Muslim chaplain. He gave an overview of the history of Islam in America and how they have co-existed in peace with its citizens

We met Dr. Mohammad Abu-Nimer at the American University. It was very encouraging to note that dialogue can be useful in conflict resolution as shown during the recent Israel-Palestinian conflict.

At the George Mason University Institute for Conflict Analysis & Resolution (ICAR), Dr. Dennis Sandole discussed some of the new theories of international conflict resolution and the impact that the September 11th attacks had on these theories while Mr. Raeed Tayeed talked about traditional and modern Islamic method of conflict resolution. The latter also shared that even American Muslim communities were subjected to harassments as a result of the September 11 attacks.
In Strasbourg and Pennsylvania, Lancaster Country, we were treated to a dose of old –fashion charms and homes amidst the warm welcome of the Amish community. We spent one night at the Mennonite family farm and observed in the Women Session and Sunday Prayer Services. We visited an Amish museum, an antique market, amusement parks, shopping shops and restaurants.

Philadelphia, a thriving center of industry and commerce, with strong representation in healthcare, publishing, pharmaceutical, petrochemicals, electronics, metalworking and scientific instrument played venue to our study on the Shari’a or Islamic law in the U.S.

New York City, on the other hand, considered the international capital of the world and home to 7.1 million peoples was likewise significant to us. We met members of the Faith-Based Conflict Resolution and Interfaith Dialogue and opened with them our thoughts on this matter.

The study program not only allowed us to listen to various experiences of experts but also we share our experience in our country situation, were prepared to sharpen our skills in conflict resolution. Such were the topics assigned to Dr. Herbert Kelman of the Harvard University, Dr. Roger Fishes of the Harvard Law school, Program manager of Conflict Management Group Mr. Jim Tull, Professors Ethan Katsth and Janet Rifkn of the Center for Information Technology and Dispute Resolution at the University of Massachusetts.

Chicago, Illinois, situated on the shore of Lake Michigan is a gateway to the agricultural heartland of America and serves as the nation’s most important grain market. In this state, we have learned about Alternative Dispute Resolution, Minority Activism and Grassroots Organizing. Being home to a great number of Filipino immigrants, we were able to discuss with them the root causes of the Mindanao conflict. We also visited the Black American school in Chicago where they shared to us the history of the struggles of Black American against discrimination.

Another state that we toured was New Mexico. We met with representatives of the tribal community. They shared with us the Native American autonomy issues, concerns on community and economic development in a rural setting and the poverty and conflict. The President also shared with us the overview of the U.S. federal government toward the Native American Autonomous Government and their constitution.

Los Angeles, California serves as a principal global cultural center. During our stay in this community, we met different professional experts on economic development and conflict resolution. We meet the Muslim business community through Dr. Yahia Abdel Rahman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Islamic Chamber of Commerce. He is also the chairman of the American Finance House LARIBA, a company promoting halal banking and finance.

My study Tour in the United States of America opened my eyes to the advantages of the federal government, the representation and recognition of the minority Americans in the government system. Unfortunately, Third World countries do not enjoy the many freedoms that the peoples of First World countries like the US experience. I have learned that conflict resolution precisely takes into consideration the various rights of peoples especially the right to self-determination to find lasting solutions to conflict. |K|