PHILIPPINES: Torture of a 16-year-old boy caught in a fight between soldiers and rebels

Mr. XX (name withheld), 16 years of age, was arrested along with seven other men suspected to have taken part in the siege in Zamboanga City, Philippines by the Moro National Liberation Front.

According to Mr. XX, they were all wounded when they were forced to surrender. He said that the military commanded them to put their hands over their heads and to drop flat to the ground. Afterwards, the military in boots stepped on them and tied them up with a rope. Then they were kicked and punched as they were being forced to admit being MNLF fighters.

Mr. XX claimed that one of his companions was slashed to death by one of the military personnel when he denied involvement with the MNLF. Fearing for their lives, they all admitted to be members of MNLF under duress.

He was blindfolded and taken to a venue he believes to be the Southern City College since he overheard his captors. Mr. XX was interrogated and asked about the other men. In fear, he confessed that he is originally from Sulu and was part of a certain Commander Nasser Adja’s team. His commander has already been killed by the military.

Mr. XX had shrapnel wounds in his left ankle, right knee and his thighs that needed medical attention but instead of being provided with health care, he was punched in the eye, kicked on his injured knee and stabbed at his right hand.

At dawn, Mr. XX was taken to Zamboanga City Central Police Station. According to him, this is when his captors took off his blindfolds. He was put in a detention cell with other alleged members of the MNLF. He said that though he was given bread that day, he along with the other detainees, were not provided food for five days. They were only given water.

Now, Mr. XX has been transferred to the San Ramon Penal and Prison Farm. He said that he was given a dental examination to verify his age but is yet to receive the result of the test.

He said that his co-detainees inside the cell have been treating him harshly and that some of them even take his share of food during mealtime.

Mr. XX said that his father, who was an MNLF member, convinced him to join a peace rally to Zamboanga City. He was promised that they will be given five thousand pesos each and that after taking part in the peace rally, they will be becoming integrees of the government. They were given an armalite rifle and an MNLF uniform before leaving Sulu for Zamboanga.