Javid Hassan, Arab News Staff
Sunday 2 March 2003
Last Update 2 March 2003 12:00 am
RIYADH, 2 March 2003 — Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari has appealed to the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) to secure his release from 14 months of “illegal detention”.
He was trying to visit Saudi Arabia via Kuala Lumpur when he was detained by the Malaysian authorities, who repatriated him to the Philippines on Jan. 7 last year. His plan was to meet Abdullah Badawi, the deputy prime minister of Malaysia, and from there to travel to Jeddah for talks with the OIC secretary-general regarding a ceasefire in the strife-torn Mindanao region of the southern Philippines.
In an interview conducted by telephone, Misuari said he had abandoned the liberation struggle only for the sake of the OIC. Misuari, now under detention in Santa Rosa, Laguna, some 50 km from Manila, has been lodged in a small two-room villa surrounded by hundreds of policemen.
“I was fighting for independence for our people. The Bangsomoro armed forces had liberated a greater part of Mindanao when the OIC intervened and persuaded me to work for a negotiated settlement of the dispute,” he told Arab News. Indonesia and Malaysia, Misuari pointed out, subsequently entered the scene, since Malaysia was part of what he called the “conspiracy” to divide the MNLF and create the so-called executive committee of 15 drawn from his former lieutenants.
He observed that since the OIC was a party to this, it has an obligation to use its good offices to expedite “my release from this unjust detention. The charge that I rebelled against the government is a total lie fabricated by them (the Philippine government) to justify my detention for the last 14 months.”
Asked if MNLF had any plans to challenge the Philippine government’s decision communicated to the OIC that it no longer recognizes Nur Misuari as the chairman of MNLF, he said: “We are going to prepare for the pre-trial on March 20 and, secondly, we are asking the Court of Appeal for our right to bail. We have the backing of many people.”