2013 Lahad Datu standoff

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2013 Lahad Datu standoff
Part of North Borneo dispute, Moro insurgency in the Philippines
2013 Lahad Datu standoff.svg
Location map of the standoff
Date 11 February 2013 – 24 March 2013[1]
(1 month, 1 week and 6 days)
Location Tanduo, Lahad Datu, Semporna, Kunak and Tawau in eastern Sabah
Result Decisive Malaysian victory.
Belligerents
Sulu Sultanate Sultanate of Sulu (Jamalul Kiram III's faction)  Malaysia

Commanders and leaders
Sulu Sultanate Jamalul Kiram III
Sulu Sultanate Agbimuddin Kiram
Malaysia Najib Razak
Malaysia Hishammuddin Hussein
Malaysia Ahmad Zahid Hamidi
Malaysia Ismail Omar
Malaysia Zulkifeli Mohd. Zin
Malaysia Musa Aman
Units involved
Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo[6] MAF

RMP

MMEA

Strength
235[7] 6,500+ (7 Battalion)
Casualties and losses
Dead: 67
Injured: 3
Captured by MY: 111
Captured by PH: 38
Dead: 9
Injured: 12
Civilians Killed: 2
Injured: 1
All statistics reference:[1]
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The 2013 Lahad Datu standoff arose after 235 militants, some of whom were armed,[8] arrived by boats in Lahad Datu, Sabah, Malaysia from Simunul island, Tawi-Tawi in the southern Philippines on 11 February 2013.[6][9][10] The group, calling themselves the "Royal Security Forces of the Sultanate of Sulu and North Borneo",[6] was sent by Jamalul Kiram III, one of the claimants to the throne of the Sultanate of Sulu. Kiram stated that their objective was to assert the unresolved territorial claim of the Philippines to eastern Sabah (the former North Borneo).[11] Malaysian security forces surrounded the village of Tanduo in Lahad Datu where the group had gathered and after several weeks of negotiations and broken deadlines for the intruders to withdraw, security forces moved in and routed the Sulu militants.

Background[edit]

National territorial dispute[edit]

The Philippines retains a dormant territorial claim to eastern Sabah, formerly known as North Borneo, through the heritage of the Sultanate of Sulu.[10][12] The basis of this claim is that the dominion of the sultanate has historically spanned from the Sulu Archipelago into parts of northern Borneo. Malaysia, however, has categorically rejected any Philippine territorial claim to Sabah as it interprets the 1878 agreement as that of cession and that it deems that the residents of Sabah had exercised their right to self-determination when they voted to join the Malaysian federation in 1963.[13][14][15] This was also proved based on the Madrid Protocol of 1885 when the Sulu Sultanate lost their rights when their predecessors Spain had relinquished all their claims to the Borneo island, thus giving all control to Malaysia's predecessors, the British.[16] The Sultanate also lost their powers after their defeat on the Philippine–American War during the Moro Rebellion.

However, every year, the Malaysian Embassy in the Philippines still issues a cheque in the amount of 5,300 ringgit (US$1710 or about 77,000 Philippine pesos) to the legal counsel of the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu in keeping with the terms of an 1878 agreement. Malaysia considers the amount an annual cession payment for the disputed state, while the sultan’s descendants consider it as a “rent.”[17][18]

Sulu succession dispute[edit]

Another factor behind the standoff is the unresolved status of the Sultanate of Sulu. The Filipino group in Lahad Datu claims to represent Jamalul Kiram III as the Sultan of Sulu. However, his status as sultan is disputed by several other claimants.[19]

Initiation of the standoff[edit]

Heirs to the Sultanate of Sulu felt excluded by the terms of the framework of a peace deal between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as announced on 7 October 2012 by Philippine president Benigno Aquino III. In response, Jamalul Kiram III, claiming to be the legitimate heir to the throne of Sulu, decreed on 11 November 2012 that a civilian and military contingent should assert his territorial rights in North Borneo. He appointed his brother and Raja Muda ("heir apparent" or "crown prince"), Agbimuddin Kiram, to lead the group.[6][20]

Months later on 11 February 2013, Agbimuddin Kiram and at least 101 followers arrived in the village of Tanduo, located near Tungku in Lahad Datu District, Sabah from neighbouring Simunul island, Tawi-Tawi of southern Philippines.[10] Around eighty people fled from 15 homes in Tanduo.[21]

Development of standoff[edit]

Malaysian police blockaded roads leading from Lahad Datu through palm oil plantations to the remote village of Tanduo, where the armed group is encircled. Malaysian police patrol boats were also patrolling nearby waters. Filipino security agencies also blocked off entry from southern Philippines.[22]

The Philippines also deployed six naval ships to the seas of Sulu and Tawi Tawi to help stabilise the situation.[23] An additional Philippine naval ship was sent to Malaysian waters off Lahad Datu to provide humanitarian assistance.[24]

On 26 February 2013, President Aquino appealed to Kiram to recall his followers and to hold dialogue with the government to address his family's concerns.[25] In a press conference held at Malacañang Palace, Aquino said that the longer Kiram’s followers stay in Sabah, the more they endanger not just their own lives, but also those of the thousands of Filipinos living and working there. Addressing Kiram, he said, "It must be clear to you that this small group of people will not succeed in addressing your grievances, and that there is no way that force can achieve your aims."[26]

Aquino also reminded him that as a Filipino citizen, he is bound by the Constitution of the Philippines and its laws. The president said he has ordered an investigation into possible violations of laws by Kiram, his followers and collaborators citing the Constitution's provision on renouncing war as an instrument of national policy and Article 118 of the Revised Penal Code, which punishes those who "provoke or give occasion for a war...or expose Filipino citizens to reprisals on their persons or property."[26] He said a dialogue to address the country's territorial dispute to eastern Sabah could be arranged after those involved in the standoff come home immediately. Aquino also declined to confirm reports of other parties being allegedly behind the standoff in order to sabotage the Bangsamoro peace process.[25][27]

Kiram remained defiant, despite a warning of arrest, said his men would not go back home “until an arrangement has been done by our officials and the president, and if that will be arranged accordingly with a written agreement signed by the parties concerned.” He shared that in his last conversation with Agbimuddin over the phone, his brother told him that their followers were firm in their decision to stay in Sabah even though they have little access to food as a result of the food blockade ordered by the Malaysian government.[28]

The 74-year-old sultan said he was ready to be jailed if the Philippine government filed a case against him and members of his clan, citing his old age. He said he cannot understand what his violation against the Constitution is, saying he has always respected it and that "coming home to their homeland" is not a crime. Kiram also asked Malaysia to "sit down in a square table and to diplomatically settle the issue on the claim" stressing the need to "come up with a win-win solution." He reiterated that he and his men “will not initiate the violence… But are prepared to defend our lives and aspirations” and that the Sabah issue “can be peacefully settled without threat, but in a diplomatic way.”[28]

Sitti Jacel, the daughter of Kiram, said her father's followers were not in Lahad Datu in order to wage war but to reside peacefully on what they call their ancestral territory. She added that they would not leave unless they are given a "concrete solution." She also expressed disappointment at the apparent lack of support from the Philippine government, adding that Manila needs to balance diplomatic relations and the interests of its constituents.[29]

Philippines Secretary of Foreign Affairs meet with the Malaysian Foreign Minister and the Defence Minister to discuss peacefully on how to resolve the incident.

Malaysian Deputy Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar advised the public not to be worried, and assured that the standoff would be resolved as soon as possible. He added that the incident was being handled as a national security issue. He also declined to comment on whether there are ongoing negotiations with the group of Kiram.[30]

On 7 March 2013, the Malaysian Foreign Ministry issued a statement that said it now considered Kiram's forces as a group of terrorists "following their atrocities and brutalities committed in the killing of Malaysia’s security personnel." It added that the label had the concurrence of Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario.[31] This was however denied by Philippine Ambassador to Malaysia Jose Eduardo Malaya, who said Del Rosario was "taken out of context." It was clarified that Del Rosario agreed that those responsible for the killing of Malaysian police forces committed "terroristic acts".[32]

Military operations[edit]

1 March skirmish[edit]

At around 10:15 am on 1 March 2013, three days after Malaysia's extended deadline for the group to leave Lahad Datu, a confrontation occurred between the sultanate's forces and the Malaysian police, with shots exchanged. According to Abraham Idjirani, Kiram's spokesperson, 10 members of their army were killed with four more injured as a result of the skirmish.[33] There were also two casualties from the Malaysian police. The owner of the house where Agbimuddin Kiram and his men had stayed was also killed in the shooting incident.[34][35]

Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein claimed that Kiram's men opened fire and denied that their security forces retaliated.[36]

Initial reports from the Malaysian embassy in the Philippines stated that there were no fatalities in the shooting.[37] Ambassador Mohammad Zamri bin Mohammad Kassim told Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario that the "standoff was over" and that 10 "royal army" members had surrendered to Malaysian authorities after the assault. He added that the group of Kiram at Lahad Datu escaped and ran towards the sea. He said a pursuit for them has ensued.[35]

Idjirani reacted that none of their members were in Malaysian custody after the shooting incident. He also denied that their forces fled to the sea after their clash with the police. He said “the standoff is not over, unless there’s a concrete understanding or agreement that can be reached" between the sultanate and the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines.[38]

Idjirani claimed that Malaysian officials wanted "to cover up the truth" when they claimed that no one was hurt in the incident. He also appealed to the Malaysian government to stop the attack, saying Kiram's men were armed only with bolos and knives and only a few had guns.[33] He claimed that snipers from the Malaysian police were targeting their group. He added that the sultanate is now looking at the possibility of elevating the matter to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation and the United Nations Human Rights Commission.[37] He also said that their men had moved to another location to continue their fight and urged Malaysia to hold talks.[34]

Sabah Police Commissioner Hamza Taib meanwhile said no one from Kiram's followers surrendered to Malaysian authorities. He added that 12 men from Kiram's group were killed when they tried to break out of the security cordon imposed by Malaysian security forces. Hamza claimed that the Filipinos opened fire at the Malaysian police before they were forced to retaliate in self-defence, followed by a gun battle. He said they found various weapons, including the high-powered M16 rifles, pistols and SLR rifles and bullets from the group. Hamza also denied reports from a foreign news agency that the gunmen had given themselves up and escaped to the sea. He said Agbimuddin’s group were still in Tanduo and that the security cordon was being maintained because Malaysia wants the occupation to be resolved peacefully.[39]

Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak later confirmed that two police personnel died in the shootout. The Sabah police commissioner, in a separate statement, said that 12 of Kiram's followers died.[40] He said he had now given Malaysian security forces a mandate to take "any action" against the group.[34] He added that "there will be no compromise" for the sultanate's forces and that "either they surrender or face the consequences.”[41]

Presence of armed men in Kunak[edit]

On 2 March 2013, a group of 10 armed men were spotted near Kunak, a town between Lahad Datu and Semporna, according to Royal Malaysia Police Inspector-General Ismail Omar. He said that three of these men were in military fatigues similar to those being worn by the sultanate's forces.[42]

The Malaysian government began doubling the number of police and army officers, including deploying members of the Royal Malay Regiment, in identified areas where the Filipino armed groups are believed to be present.[43]

Semporna attack[edit]

At around 6:30 am on 3 March 2013, armed gunmen believed to be less than 10 in number claiming to be from the Sulu Sultanate ambushed the police during a surveillance operation on a village off the coast of Semporna, Sabah. The Bukit Aman special branch superintendent and four operatives died in the action. At 9 a.m., it emerged that the police party remained entrapped in the village surrounded by the attackers. The superintendent in his 40s had led three dozen policemen, from the Semporna District Police Headquarters, had been ordered to carry out an investigation at the village following a tip-off that there was a group of armed men at Kampung Sri Jaya Siminul in Semporna.[44] The operation in Semporna was launched at 4 pm on Saturday following intelligence reports of the existence of a cache of firearms in the village, and that an uprising by certain groups of villagers believed to be of Southern Philippines origin and residing there was in the making.[45]

About three hours into the operation, the policemen were shot while heading towards a house in the village and opened fire in self-defense. It is learnt that the superintendent who was the first to be hit by a hail of gunshots fired by hiding gunmen died moments later.[44] Sabah police commissioner DCP Datuk Hamza Taib had said on Saturday the attack may not be related to the Kampung Tanduo standoff. During the ambush, two armed gunmen were also killed.[46]

Idjirani, the secretary-general of Sultan Kiram III, said the violence started when Malaysian policemen pretending to round up undocumented Filipinos shot one Imam Maas and his four sons and wounded another Imam when they learned that they were taking care of the sultan’s relatives in the area, Alianapia and Amir Bahar.[47]

Subsequent police investigations and interviews with the village head, Ramlee Saraman, found that Kampung Simunul, Semporna had been infiltrated by the Sulu intruders who mingled with the unsuspecting inhabitants, one of whom was regarded as an 'imam' despite a lack of accreditation.[48]

It was earlier reported that the intruders had planned to attack Lahad Datu police station and that both Lahad Datu and Tawau Police Special Investigation Divisions had been deployed to the scene.[45]

During the shoot-out, a total of 23 police officers were pronounced missing. While captive four policemen were tortured and had their bodies mutilated, with one beheaded, according to Malaysian authorities, who found the bodies.[49] The mutilated condition of these bodies led the major Malay-language newspaper Utusan Malaysia to allege the influence of drugs or black magic.[50]

Reports came out that a total of six Malaysian police officers and seven assailants were killed in Semporna. Six of the attackers were fatally shot while ambushing Malaysian police while another was beaten to death by villagers after he tried to take a hostage, says Sabah's head of police.[51][52]

Operation Daulat[edit]

An American-made F/A-18, one of the jet fighters which been used by the Royal Malaysian Air Force during the operation.
The soldiers give a last respect to death comrades, Private Ahmad Hurairah Bin Ismail when he killed in the line of duty during the Ops Daulat in Lahad Datu and Private Ahmad Farhan Bin Ruslan, killed in accident convoi from Kota Kinabalu to Lahad Datu at Subang AFB.

On 5 March 2013, Royal Malaysian Air Force fighter jets, reported as F/A-18 and Hawk fighters, bombed Kiram's camp.[53][54][55] Continuous explosions were being heard in Lahad Datu as the police and army moved in against the gunmen who were reportedly returning fire.[56] In a Kuala Lumpur rally, Prime Minister Najib said, “We started with air strike by jet fighters of Royal Malaysian Air Forces, followed by mortar strike; and as I'm speaking, the army and police forces, along with other members (of the security forces) following behind, are taking action to arrest and destroy the group which has breached the nation's sovereignty.[55] According to IGP Ismail Omar and other police sources, the army and police have begun mopping-up operations codenamed "Ops Sulu" now "Ops Daulat" (Operation Sovereignty).[57][58] It is believed that rebel leader Agbimuddin Kiram and several of his followers have managed to escaped the security cordon around Kampung Tanduo. The search for these men is being carried out by the joint Malaysian police and army taskforce in the surrounding farmland and FELDA plantations.[59][60]

The Malaysian troops recovered 13 bodies of suspected Kiram followers in Felda Sahabat. Malaysian Defence Minister Zahid Hamidi was unsure on whether the deaths were due to the assault on Semporna or from Lahad Datu.[61]

On 9 March 2013, Malaysian Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein have said that "Ops Daulat" aimed to flush out the Sulu gunmen will end only when none of the intruders are left in Sabah because the gunmen have not laid down their arms unconditionally.[62] The armed forced have maintained tight security cordon around the operation area and those with no documents such as MyKad, are detained for further investigation.[63][64]

Tanduo village was declared secured by Malaysian security forces on 11 March after a week of bombardments and firefights with the bodies of 22 Sulu gunmen recovered by security forces from the village as the fighting ended. Meanwhile, the security forces are currently in the final stages of sweeping a neighbouring village in which a firefight in the area left a Malaysian army soldier, Private Ahmad Hurairah Bin Ismail killed along with three Sulu gunmens.[65][66] Another soldier, Private Ahmad Farhan Bin Ruslan was also killed in a road accident near Bandar Cendera-Wasih in the Felda Sahabat area en route from the town of Lahad Datu. The soldier was believed to be part of an army logistics convoy and that he was a passenger in one of the convoy's trucks.[67]

The clash ended on 24 March while the Operation Daulat ended and replace by the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM) on 29 June.[1][2] Sabah Chief Minister, Datuk Seri Musa Aman said ESSCOM was now responsible to put in place security arrangements and undertake operations on the Ops Daulat area.[2] The zone would covering all operations from northern Kudat to south-eastern Tawau to ensure Sabah's eastern sea borders are safe from any threats.[2]

MNLF and MILF reactions[edit]

An exclusive report by News5 showed that some Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) member were undergoing a training in Jolo, Sulu for a rescue mission for abused Filipinos in Sabah.[7] Former MNLF leader Nur Misuari has admitted that these MNLF members were not members or allied with the Royal Security Force of the Sulu sultanate.[7][68] However, the Sulu Province governor, Abdusakur Tan has denied any reports that says MNLF fighters under Nur Misuari were heading to Sabah, he also denied that 1,000 MNLF fighters were able to sneak into the state.[7] Also, according to MNLF Chairman, Muslimin Sema, they respect the decision of Sabah joined Malaysia on 1963.[69] He also said he had visited Sabah in 1973 and witnessed the joy that was enjoyed by the people of the state, adding that he also has many relatives in the state.[69]

Murad Ibrahim, the chairman of Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) which is the largest separatist group in the Philippines asserted that MILF is not involved with the conflict. Distancing his group, he mentioned that the issue was a matter to be resolved by the Kuala Lumpur and Manila administration.[70]

Related incidents[edit]

Defacement of Malaysian and Philippine websites[edit]

On 3 March 2013, the website of Globe Telecom was defaced by hackers claiming to be from the "MALAYSIA Cyb3r 4rmy".[71] The group left the message, "Do not invade our country or you will suffer the consequences."[71] Global Telecom confirmed its own website had been hacked but assured the public that no sensitive information was stolen. The website was restored at around noon the same day.

In apparent retaliation, hackers identifying themselves as from Anonymous Philippines, attacked several Malaysian websites. They warned Malaysia to "Stop attacking our cyber space! Or else we will attack your cyber world!"[72] The website of Stamford College in Malaysia was also hacked with its front page replaced by a note that said: "The time has come to reclaim what is truly ours. Sabah is owned by the Philippines, you illegally [sic] claiming it."[73]

Google search results alteration[edit]

On 4 March 2013, a Google search for the word "Sabah" reflected a cached version of the territory's Wikipedia article. It said the Malaysian control of the state is "illegitimate" and that "in fact, [Sabah] is part of the Sultanate of Sulu." A spokesman for Google Malaysia said they have already been informed of the issue.[73][74]

Protests at Malaysian embassy[edit]

Some 20 Filipinos organised a protest in front of the Malaysian embassy in Makati on 5 March 2013. They called for an end to the violence in Sabah, while some expressed support for the cause of Kiram. At least 50 policemen and a fire truck were deployed in the area. The Malaysian embassy later suspended its operations as a result of the protest.[75]

Allegations of political motives behind the conflict[edit]

Malaysian prime minister, Najib Razak, wants to investigate the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, if he was involved in the incident to destabilise the state, which is known to be the ruling party's stronghold for the upcoming 13th general election. This began after Filipino media reported that Mr. Anwar may be involved with the incursion and the evidence of an image showing the opposition leader with Nur Misuari of MNLF began circulating on the internet.[76][77] Concurrently, Anwar has embarked legal proceedings against government-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia and television station TV3 for trying to link him to the incursions.[78][79] Meanwhile, Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Tian Chua claimed that the ruling UMNO had deliberately orchestrated the crisis as a conspiracy to divert and frighten the people of Sabah in favour of the ruling coalition.[80] The allegations made by Tian Chua was met with an outcry by the Malaysian public; there are various calls from the public and many key political personalities such as Ambiga Sreenevasan and Saifuddin Abdullah for both political parties to forge an unprecedented bi-partisan ties to settle the issue.

On the eve of its 2013 general election, Filipino senatorial candidates from the opposition blamed president Benigno Aquino III for sending unclear messages to the Kiram family.[81] They also said that President Aquino III is in danger of facing an impeachment for "betrayal of public trust".[82] Meanwhile, President Aquino himself blamed unnamed members of the previous Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo government as conspirators to the current conflict; while Aquino did not name names due to lack of evidence on the alleged conspiracy, Kiram's daughter Princess Jacel challenged Aquino to prove such allegations. Former National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales denied that he is the one being alluded by Aquino.[83] Jamalul Kiram III unsuccessfully ran for senator under Arroyo's TEAM Unity during the 2007 Senate Elections.

Utilization of commercial aircraft by the Malaysian army[edit]

On 5 March 2013, flights of AirAsia were rearranged in transporting Malaysian troops to Sabah. An online debate ensued on whether the move highlighted such patriotism of a Malaysian-based airline or the lack of resources of the military. Some Malaysians wondered why the government requested help from a commercial airline, instead of mobilizing its own fleet of C-130 Hercules transport planes. Others lauded AirAsia for its efforts in assisting the armed forces.[84] This came despite the explanations provided by the Defence Ministry that the use of AirAsia jetliners is one that of expediency instead of incompetency on the part of the Armed Forces. The Malaysian defence minister, Zahid Hamidi, pointed out that each of the RMAF C-130 Hercules transport aircraft are only capable of carrying up to 90 soldiers each, while airliners of AirAsia are capable of transporting up to 200 soldiers each. The Malaysian Defence Ministry, reiterated by various netizens, also pointed out the fact that chartering civilian jetliners are also a common practice in other countries,[85] including those of NATO.[86]

Assembly at the Philippine embassy[edit]

On 8 March 2013, Malaysians held an assembly outside the Philippine embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The event, called Ops Bunga (Operation Flower), encouraged participants to place flowers at the embassy's doorstep as a show of the Malaysian public's solidarity towards Filipinos in Malaysia. Organizers also urged people to offer prayers to the Malaysian security officers who died in the conflict. Participants used the Twitter hashtag #OpsBunga during the event.[87][88]

Allegations of Police Brutality[edit]

On March 10, 2013, there have been reports of police brutality committed by Malaysian police officials as part of a crackdown on suspected Kiram supporters, causing mass migration of Malaysian-born Filipinos from Sabah to Sulu.[89] According to a refugee, Malaysian police officials have shot and killed a large number of Filipino civilians regardless of having MyKad and detained many others. Also, it was alleged that those detained were not given proper treatment[90] The DFA has yet to receive a formal statement from the Malaysian government.[91] A Royal Malaysian Police official denied the allegations. There are also no pictures or videos proving such act was done by the Malaysian security agencies. The supposed victims and witness are still to issue sworn statements.[92]

Aftermath[edit]

Arrests and prosecutions[edit]

Following the Lahad Datu standoff, the Malaysian police detained 104 Filipinos with suspected links to Jamalul Kiram III under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012, one of the successors to the Internal Security Act . These included several family members of Kiram who had entered the state of Sabah using assumed identities.[93] 111 Sulu gunmen were also arrested and other eight gunmen charged under Section 121 of the Penal Code waging war against the King, a charge which carries the death penalty in Malaysia.[1][94][95]

On 6 August 2013, the Kota Kinabalu High Court convicted Corporal Hassan Ali Basari, a Malaysian Special Branch officer for intentionally withholding information about the intrusion of Sulu gunmen at Lahad Datu between January and March 2013. The Malaysian Special Branch is the country's main internal security and domestic intelligence agency. The prosecution successfully argued that Hassan's intention not to inform his superiors resulted in casualties and fatalities on the Malaysian side. Hassan was sentenced to seven years of imprisonment, the maximum jail term under Section 130M of the Penal Code, read with the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act.[96][97]

Trial[edit]

On 6 January 2014, the trial are now opened for 30 peoples (26 which are Filipinos and the other 4 are Malaysians) who being prosecuted for various charges mainly with waging war against the King, harbouring of terrorists, being members of a terrorist group, and the recruiting of terrorists.[98][99] All proceedings began at the Kota Kinabalu Central Prison in Kepayan and all charges were read out in English, Malay and Suluk language.[98] Also present there is Jamalul Kiram III nephew, Datu Amirbahar Hushin Kiram who was also among those charged.[100]

Reactions[edit]

Related parties
  •  Malaysia – Prime Minister Najib Razak said the longer Kiram's followers stay in Sabah, the more dangerous the situation would be for them. He added that the group "must realise that what they are doing is a serious offence and I hope they will accept the offer to leave peacefully as soon as possible." He also assured the people of Sabah that their safety and the sovereignty of the state would be protected.[101] Najib attended the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro in Manila in 2012. Malaysia has facilitated the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front since 2001.[102]
  •  PhilippinesForeign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario sought the assurance of Malaysian authorities that the rights of Filipinos who were "permanent residents in Sabah and who may be among the group" would be respected. He also urged the Filipinos to “return to their homes and families.”[103] It was also clarified that the Filipino group's actions were not sanctioned by the Philippine government.[18]
Supranational bodies
  •  United NationsUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for an end to the conflict in Sabah. He also urged all sides to engage in dialogue to resolve the situation peacefully.[104] On 8 March 2013, Ban met with Hussein Haniff, the Malaysian Permanent Representative to the United Nations, to discuss recent developments to the conflict in Sabah. A statement from UN Secretariat said that the Secretary-General "reiterated his hope that the situation will be resolved as soon as possible and that efforts will continue to be made to ensure that human rights will be respected and loss of life will be prevented.” It added that Ban also noted the efforts that were made by the governments of Malaysia and the Philippines to find a peaceful resolution to the situation.[105]
States
  •  Brunei – The Major General of Royal Brunei Armed Forces Aminuddin Ihsan also conveyed his hope that the Sabah crisis would be resolved peacefully.[106]
  •  IndonesiaPresident of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhyono on his statement has urged a diplomatic solution to the crisis. He said "I will pursue a diplomatic approach in the near future, because it's bad (if the incident prolongs). (But) it does not mean that Indonesia will intervene in Malaysia's internal affairs. No."[107] Susilo expressed his concern about the conflict that claimed a number of lives and hoped that the two parties could find a peaceful solution.[108]
  •  United StatesUS Ambassador to the Philippines Harry K. Thomas, Jr. said that Manila and Kuala Lumpur have the ability “to work this out in a peaceful manner, according to international norms." He also added that if the two governments would sit down and talk, the standoff could be resolved without bloodshed.[109] The United States welcomed the signing of the Framework Agreement on the Bangsamoro.[110]
Non-state actors
  • Other claimants to the Sultanate of Sulu:
    • Suluflag.jpg Muedzul Lail Tan Kiram decried the actions of his relatives and what he claims are "false pretenders to the throne" in a press release[111] and on a KiniTV interview by Sumisha Naidu.[112]
    • Fuad Kiram expressed his disapproval of the actions of his first cousin, Jamalul Kiram III. He said he wants the retaking of Sabah done “by peaceful means and by peaceful coexistence with others.”[19] He also offered his prayers for the safety of the people who are in Lahad Datu.[113]
    • Abdul Rajak Aliuddin opposes the claims of Jamalul Kiram III and his supporters, stating that his own family "is the rightful owner of the throne". He claims to be the sixth Sultan of North Borneo.[114]
  • The International Union of Socialist Youth (IUSY) in its 2013 World Council called for a consultative process to resolve the conflict, and supported the right of Sabahans to self-determination.[115]
  • Moro National Liberation Front (Muslimin Sema's faction) - The MNLF under Muslimin Sema condemned the incursions of the Sulu militants in Sabah. "We (MNLF) do not support with what is happening in Sabah (the intrusion and the violent acts of the terrorists). We dissaprove it. The incidents in Sabah are done to drive a wedge between between our peoples." Sema said. “The incidents are also to break the bond between Sabah and the southern Philippines, as well as between Malaysia and Philippines. They want to destroy the bond (between the two peoples),” he added.[116]

Repercussions[edit]

Thousands of Filipinos residing in Malaysia illegally, some for decades, were deported following the conflict and the ensuing security related crackdown, some of whom were forced to leave behind family members.[117] Since January until November 2013, a total of nine thousand Filipinos which reside in the state illegally has been repatriated from Sabah.[118]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

References[edit]

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