MILF peace history launched in Mindanao

IMG-20160215-WA0013On February 15, the Centre for Peace & Conflict Studies officially launched a new book, The Journey of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front’s First Ex-Combatants, at the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC) in Cotabato, Mindanao, the Philippines, following a launch in Manila on February 12.

Produced with support of the UK Embassy in the Philippines, the publication is the result of conversations CPCS was invited to conduct with 10 of the first 145 Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces (BIAF) combatants that were decommissioned on June 16, 2015 as part of the first phase of the Decommissioning Programme.

The decommissioning of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) soldiers was one of the key conditions agreed to in the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) and demonstrates the MILF’s commitment to the peace process.

IMG-20160216-WA0011Listening to change

Speaking at the launch event were Head of the BTC Group Abdullah Cusain, MILF Chief Peace Negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, Government of Philippines Peace Panel Chairperson Professor Miriam Coronel-Ferrer, outgoing Second Secretary of the UK Embassy in Manila Thomas Phipps, BTC Deputy Vice Chair Akmad A. Sakkam, CPCS Programme Coordinator Nerea Bilbatua and CPCS Executive Director Emma Leslie.

“We are the stories we tell,” said Nerea Bilbatua, who conducted the interviews with the ex-combatants and compiled the book using Peace History Methodology.

IMG-20160215-WA0009“When our life changes, our stories change as well. With this publication we wanted to accompany these men through this process of transformation, to create a space where they could reflect, and we could listen to what they have to say.”

CPCS uses Peace History Methodology to collect and publish the personal stories and experiences of people involved in a specific conflict.

While the stories are a collection of histories, the methodology also strives to facilitate a process of forward thinking and for drawing out relevant lessons from the past. These stories are then woven together around key themes that emerge – which could be specific events or critical reflections – into a book documenting the shared memories.

The Journey of the MILF cover large“This book is a testament to the first MILF decommissioned soldiers who so courageously changed their lives to push the peace process forward,” said Emma Leslie. “These are men of courage. It takes bravery to sit and reflect about one’s own life during a moment of such uncertainty and transition.”

“Given recent developments, we hope that this book raises the voices of those that have spent decades in conflict and are now committed to seeing out the long journey towards peace on Mindanao. CPCS is truly honoured to be trusted with their stories and share their message and memories with the wider community and region.”

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