Bangsa Moro, current events

Moro Human Rights Defender Gone Too Soon

The day before yesterday, I saw in my FB Newsfeed that Atty, Zainudin S. Malang, the human rights lawyer, has passed away. It is so disheartening to lose an intelligent and freedom-loving Moro, esp. during this time when there seems to be very few left.

In 2010, I got a long-distance call from Cotabato. It was Atty. Malang. I did not know him personally but I knew his mother, who was a constant companion and good friend of my sister Hadja Potri Zorayda Abbas-Tamano and a good friend and neighbor of my sister Bai Landasul Abbas Ismael.

He said that the military/police arrested the bus bombing suspects – who were then in the news – detained them, and would not let their relatives, lawyers, a medical doctor, and himself, the Mindanao Human Rights Action Center Executive Director, to see them.

The national media presented the story as a practically open-and-shut case with a confession from a 15-year old child who implicated a couple others. All the suspects were arrested and to be charged. And that was it. The Christian lady governor of Cotabato, who offered a reward of P100,000.00 for any information leading to the arrest of the culprit, already congratulated the police and the military for “a job well done”.

Atty. Malang asked me to put out the story from the other side. I don’t usually write news reports. I prefer to write feature stories. But I didn’t know anyone who would write a fair and objective report on the bus bombing. Ever since 9/11, Muslims are deemed guilty of terrorism until proven otherwise. I had no choice but to write the story myself.

Through long-distance phone calls, I interviewed him, relatives of the suspects, witnesses, the regional Director of the ARMM-CIDG (police), and the head of the Task Force investigating the bombing (military). I wrote the story and submitted it to Vera Files, which was published through yahoo.

Shortly thereafter, the relatives and lawyers were allowed to see the accused in detention.

The mainstream media reported only from one source – the military. I got the military, police, relatives of the accused, the witnesses, and the human rights lawyer.

The oppressed and poor Moro people caught in this never-ending conflict in Moroland owe a lot to this hardworking, selfless lawyer. May God bless and grant Atty. Malang entry to Paradise. The Bangsa Moro (nation and people) will surely miss the freedom-loving human rights defender Atty. Zainudin S. Malang.


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