Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) from Island Provinces and mainland Mindanao attended a three-day event from February 18 to 20 in Marawi to promote peace and solidarity from the city that was the center of a major armed conflict less than a year ago. The summit was jointly organized by the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society headed by Ka Guiamel Alim and the Mindanao State University through the Institute for Peace and Development in Mindanao. The activity was supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The summit was the result of series of consultations in different areas of Mindanao. The first day, February 18, was the Solidarity Peace Summit. Participants were active at all levels of the summit. I was a facilitator during the workshop with former MPI board member and resource person Guiamel Alim. The workshop explained ways forward.
During the morning of the second day, February 19, there was a Solidarity Peace Walk with Press Conference with the People of Marawi especially the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs). IDP representatives voiced out their sentiments and CSO leaders expressed their solidarity messages with the people of Marawi. Local Government Units, Police and Military were invited as well. Fifteen thousand people joined in the peace walk, mainly youth and students, far beyond our expectations.
On the last day, there was a solidarity visit and reflection at the “Marawi Most Affected Area” or “Ground Zero,” where we offered prayers. I served as the guide during the visit that we arranged with the military. A debriefing and a closing program—the crying moment—followed the visit.
In addition to these activities, there was also a mural peace signing. Finally, there was an exclusive open forum of the Lanao CSOs with Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Peace Panel Chair Mohagher Iqbal in support of the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Tirmizy Esmail Abdullah is an alumnus from MPI's 2016 Annual Peacebuilding Training. He is the current Interfaith Cooperation Forum (ICF) national coordinator in the Philippines. He is one of the active resident resource persons and facilitators on Islam and interreligious relations in the workshops and training programs organized by ICF in different parts of South and Southeast Asia such as Sri Lanka, Indonesia, East Timor, Thailand and Cambodia. Tirmizy is also an assistant professor of history in the Department of History in the College of Social Sciences and Humanities at Mindanao State University in Marawi City, Philippines. He teaches at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history in Mindanao Studies at the same university. He is currently writing his dissertation for a doctoral degree as a Philippine studies major in Mindanao society and culture. In addition, he administers a local Islamic center in his province that seeks to teach and train young Muslim students and youth about the fundamentals of Islam. Moreover, he is actively involved in different civic societies and non-governmental organizations working for interreligious dialogue, social justice, peacebuilding, nonviolence, environmental protection and human rights. His background as part of an ethnic minority (Muslim Moro) in the southern Philippines and the historical narrative and context of his area combined with his religious and academic background and his involvement in ICF inspired and encouraged him to work for interreligious dialogue as a tool for justice, peace and transformation. He believes that personal transformation is very crucial if one is truly serious in working for interreligious dialogue. Your self, he believes, is your strong message to the world. Furthermore, he believes that religion is a choice, i.e., every single individual has a choice to use her/his faith either to promote violence or peace. Tirmizy chooses the path of peace.
Exerpts from Biography posted on the KAICIID website.