In a poignant display of solidarity, Bangsamoro Action Against Injustices (BAAI) orchestrated a “Bangsamoro Night Walk for Free Palestine” in Cotabato City, Philippines on Monday 28 November 2023. This event, held in collaboration with the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), the Office of Public Order and Safety of Cotabato City, and various religious and community sectors, drew the participation of approximately 5,000 Bangsamoro individuals, predominantly comprising youth, women, and children.
The night commenced with a gathering at the oval ground of Cotabato State University, where participants, fuelled by deep concerns and empathy for Palestinians, embarked on a 2-kilometre walk through the streets of Cotabato City. The event unfolded under the banner of #Bangsamoro4FreePalestine, echoing a fervent call to end the 75-year struggle for Palestinian freedom.
This march transcended its physical aspects; it served as a vocal platform for the Bangsamoro community to voice its collective plea for peace to the international community. Amid the rhythmic steps of the participants, the resounding chants of “Free - Free Palestine” echoed through the streets, creating a powerful message of solidarity. The collaboration with the League of Bangsamoro Organizations (LBO), the Office of Public Order and Safety of Cotabato City, and various religious and community sectors underscored broad support for the cause. This diverse coalition, comprised of courageous individuals, young and old, sought to leverage its collective strength to advocate for justice on behalf of Palestinians.
Adding a contextual layer, the Bangsamoro community, with its distinct historical and cultural background, shares a unique resonance with the cause for a free Palestine. The region's history, marked by a struggle for autonomy and recognition, parallels the Palestinian narrative of resilience. The night walk wasn't just a symbolic gesture; it was an expression of the community's commitment to peacebuilding through solidarity. For the Bangsamoro people, standing in unity for Palestine goes beyond borders; it embodies their intrinsic belief in justice, freedom, and human rights.
The timing of the night walk, coinciding with the day before the conclusion of a 4-day ceasefire, carried additional weight. Participants utilised this crucial moment to urge the United Nations to intervene and bring an end to the Israeli occupation of Gaza. As the night unfolded, the streets became a canvas for the aspirations of the Bangsamoro people, painted with calls for peace and freedom.
The demands voiced during the night walk transcended a temporary halt in hostilities to a plea for a permanent ceasefire. The Bangsamoro community fervently called for the complete independence of Palestine, envisioning a future free from barbaric killings of civilians, particularly women and children, perpetrated by the Israeli government. Beyond the immediate political context, the night walk served as a catalyst for community cohesion. It brought together individuals from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of unity and shared purpose.
In Bangsamoro region, where historical struggles for autonomy persist, the event symbolised a collective stand for justice, mirroring the Bangsamoro's own journey toward recognition and self-determination. The impact of the march on social cohesion within the Bangsamoro community is evident, with the event contributing to a collective consciousness dedicated to standing against injustice.
The significance of this event was further emphasised by a heartfelt message from the organisers: “Many thanks to everyone who attended this rally; it only shows that you don't forget to defend human rights, especially the young people who are just starting to participate in the fight for the rights of every Muslim and the rights of any person who is oppressed in the world.”
The impassioned voices of the Bangsamoro participants, ringing in unison, transcended geographical boundaries. Their message extended beyond the streets of Cotabato City, reaching global platforms through the powerful hashtags #SaveGaza, #FreePalestineNow, and #Bangsamoro4FreePalestine.
As the night walk concluded, its impact lingered, leaving an indelible mark on the collective consciousness of the Bangsamoro community. Beyond a symbolic gesture, this event served as a testament to the unwavering commitment of Bangsamoro to stand against injustice.
The echoes of the night walk will undoubtedly resonate, fostering awareness and advocacy for the cause on a broader scale, contributing to a narrative of solidarity that extends far beyond the streets of Cotabato City.