The Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH) is a local non-profit, non-partisan Lebanese human rights organization in Beirut that was established by the Franco-Lebanese Movement SOLIDA (Support for Lebanese Detained Arbitrarily) in 2006. SOLIDA has been active since 1996 in the struggle against arbitrary detention, enforced disappearance and the impunity of those perpetrating gross human violations.

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December 14, 2009

December 14, 2009 - The Daily Star - Philippines Tribal Gunmen Free All 47 Hostages

By Agence France Presse (AFP)

Fermin Visitacion

PROSPERIDAD, Philippines: Tribal gunmen in the southern Philippines on Sunday released 47 hostages they had been holding for three days, after authorities agreed not to arrest them and animals were sacrificed. The ending to the ordeal was a rare piece of good news for the lawless south, following a political massacre last month that left 57 people dead and the beheading of a man last week in an unrelated abduction.

The vice governor of Agusan del Sur, where the mass kidnapping took place, told reporters that government negotiators had signed a deal not to arrest the kidnappers, a key factor in ending the stand-off.

“Yes at last! Yahoo!” Vice Governor Santiago Cane said in a mobile phone text message to the media after he picked up the hostages from the gunmen’s hideout in a cleared patch of jungle on a mountaintop.

The hostages, aged 17 to 62, were driven down the mountain in an army truck to a hospital in Prosperidad, the provincial capital, looking weary.

“Thank you very much, thank you very much,” one of the hostages said in front of reporters before military escorts took him and others away for medical check-ups.

Cane and other government officials had earlier Sunday met kidnap leader Ondo Perez in a restaurant to broker a deal after the hostages had spent three nights sleeping outside at the gunmen’s lair.

In a more bizarre effort to placate the kidnappers, negotiators also Sunday brought in tribal leaders to sacrifice animals as part of a ritual demanded by Perez in overnight talks.

One black pig and three chickens were slaughtered, while 10 bottles of local wine were offered to the gods.

After the ceremony, Cane took Perez to a local restaurant where he met in private with Governor Valentina Plaza and the deal was struck to give the kidnappers immunity from police action.

Perez and his band of 13 gunmen, former communist guerrillas and members of the mountain-dwelling Manobo tribe, raided a school in a small farming village in Mindanao’s Agusan valley region on Thursday, taking 75 hostages.

Twenty-eight hostages, including 18 children, were later freed and Perez had said the rest would follow on Sunday. But this was delayed by negotiations over his various demands.

The kidnapping appeared to have been driven by a feud between rival families within the Manobo tribe.

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