Last January the wave of peace reached Mindanao Island that was filled with terrible conflicts and blood shed due to religious wars.
The news of the Peace Treaty signed between the Philippine Government and the MILF (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) on the 25th of that month astonished the people from all over the world.
At the same time, attention was drawn to the work of Korean peace activist who accomplished this peace treaty on a nongovernmental level.
Korean peace activist Lee Man Hee (83) is the representative of the Heavenly Culture World Peace Restoration of Light, which is a non-governmental peace movement organization.
Lee and his peace delegation visited Mindanao Island of the Philippines on the 24th of January. They concluded a mediation of a long-time dispute between Catholic and Islam which had been a deep-rooted seed of conflict. According to Kim Nam Hee, the Chairwoman of a Female Group, Fidel Valdez Ramos who is an ex-president of the Philippines gave the highest compliment; “He has done what no president could do.”
Lee visited Mindanao at the urgent request of Antonio Ledesma, the archbishop of Cagayan de Oro, with whom he had made an acquaintance when he visited the Philippines last year.
Mindanao Island was the symbol of Asian conflict because of acute religious tensions between Catholic and Islam.
The first foreign religion spread to the Philippines was Islam and Mindanao is an outpost of Islam.
However, since Spanish colonial rule in the 16th century, Catholic spread to the Philippines, and since 1939, the Philippine government set up an immigration policy in Mindanao, which sparked off the conflict. Naturally, anti-government struggles of Mindanao natives were being propelled towards bloody conflict. The bloody conflict which continued for more than 40 years killed more than 140,000 people.
Some call the Peace Treaty in Mindanao a miracle in a land of conflict that used to be filled with sounds of gunfires, while others say Lee Man-hee's peace movement bore fruit.
Before Mindanao, Lee held a peace walk in the Philippines with the purpose of inspiring the wish for peace.
On this day, the event was held in downtown of General Santos and more than 1000 people gathered transcending the boundaries of denominations and nationalities, including students from Mindanao State University, International Youth Organization members, and religious leaders of different faiths.
After the peace walk, Lee joined the leaders of two religions in conflict to sign the Peace Treaty at a hotel in downtown General Santos.
Lee said “I harshly criticized the religious leaders who caused the conflict for over 40 years. After this, both sides accepted my proposal of religions becoming one for peace.”
The Peace treaty signed in the non-governmental level this day became a decisive catalyst for signing the final annex to the Peace Treaty the next day, April 25. The final annex covers that the Philippines government would acknowledge the Islamic autonomy of Mindanao Island and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would disarm gradually.
By Jung Hyun-Kyung