10 royal houses joining Kirams
Common goal: To avenge kin’s death in Sabah
The Sabah crisis will grow worse as other royal houses join forces with the Kirams to avenge the death of their relatives Lahad Datu, a group of Muslim scholars warned Monday, as the Sulu sultanate called off a unilateral ceasefire and ordered its followers to carry out a guerrilla war against the Malaysians.
“The crisis in Sabah is far from over. On the contrary it is escalating ,” said Firdausi Abbas, founding chairman of the United Filipino Movement.
Abbas said Lahad Datu in Sabah has been home to the Tausugs for centuries, and that the killing of Filipinos there would spark action from the royal houses in Sulu.
A spokesman for Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, Abraham Idjirani, said the sultanate has not received word about the other royal houses’ plans, but the struggle to assert the sultanate’s claim on Sabah would continue.
“The (unilateral) ceasefire has been cancelled and our forces in Sabah are directed to carry out guerrilla warfare,” Idjirani said, adding that they understand the sentiments of the relatives of the slain members of the Royal Security Force.
“We don’t know about it yet but given what is happening in Sabah, we cannot blame our Muslim brothers,” Idjirani said, noting that the sultanate has been receiving offers of support and encouragement from various sectors in its quest to retake Sabah.
He reiterated that Kiram did not intend to turn the Sabah issue into a full-scale war and the “royal army” only went to Sabah to find a place to live peacefully and not to wage war.
“[But] this is now a guerilla warfare,” Idjirani said.
On Monday, more clashes took place in Tanjung Batu, Lahad Datu as security forces conducting mopping operations encountered more Sulu gunmen, Malaysia’s Star Online said, quoting Inspector General of Police Sri Ismail Omar.
At least 62 suspected followers of Raja Muda Agbimudding Kiram have been killed and nearly 500 have been illegally detained and beaten by Malaysian police after fighting broke out on March 1, Abbas said.
Idjirani said they were willing to send representatives to Sabah to claim the bodies of those killed in clashes with Malaysian security forces, but only if the government gave them a security escort.
The Malaysian national news agency Bernama reported that the three-day deadline set by the government to claim the bodies of slain members of the Royal Security Force of the sultanate lapsed on Sunday.
“If there is no response in three days, we will go ahead and bury the dead,” Sabah police commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib was quoted as saying.
Malaysian officials said they had already completed post-mortem exams on 22 of the 28 slain Filipinos by Sunday night.
By the Malaysian government’s count, 62 armed followers of the sultan have been killed since the military offensive aimed at flushing them out of the disputed territory began on March 5.
A total of 104 alleged sympathizers of the royal army have also been detained under the Security Offenses Act 2012, including relatives of the sultan, the Bernama news agency said Monday, quoting Hamza Taib.
“We are also investigating others who have links with the terrorists,” Army Field Commander Lt. Gen. Datuk Seri Zulkiple was quoted as saying.
The same news agency also reported that the mop-up operations in Sabah will continue against the 50 men of Kiram who remain in hiding.
“We will finish [the operations] as soon as possible,” said Hamza Taib.
Idjirani said the sultanate was worried that Malaysia might harm its representatives once they set foot on Sabah to claim the bodies, noting the rampant human rights violations allegedly committed by security forces against Filipino residents there.
Also on Monday, the sultanate sought the help of the Foreign Affairs Department through the Public Attorney’s Office to obtain legal assistance for its men who were detained in Malaysia.
A spokesman for the department, Raul Hernandez, said the Kiram family’s request was being considered, noting that part of its mandate was to provide legal assistance to distressed Filipinos abroad.
Abbas, citing information from Tawi-Tawi and Sulu, said several relatives of elite fighters who figured in the Mindanao rebellion 1970 were contemplating moves to reinforce the sultan’s beleaguered followers in Lahad Datu and to exact vengeance for the death of their relatives.
Aside from the Kirams, there are at least 10 royal houses, notably the Aberin, Al Rashid, Umara , Israel, and Sakirullah, Nassarud Din, Muizzud Din, Sharapud Din, and Aliyud Din.
“They are terribly angry at the atrocities the Malaysian authorities have committed against Filipinos in Lahad Datu,” Abbas said.
On Sunday, President Aquino said the Sabah crisis could be resolved peacefully and not in haste or with force.
But Abbas scored what he described as Mr. Aquino’s complacent and unabashed position on the Sabah issue.
“It is too late because so much blood has been shed,” he said.
“The President fails to understand that the claim on Sabah is another issue separate from the plight of Filipinos in Sabah who are victims of Malaysia’s atrocities, which demanded action and a protest from the Philippine government, especially from the President,” Abbas said.
He said Filipinos detained in Lahad Datu are subjected to cruelty and demeaning treatment by Malaysian authorities, which is in violation of international protocols.
Abbas added that the President could have defused the crisis weeks ago by instructing Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to talk to the Malaysians about the Sabah situation.
Instead, he said, President Aquino issued strong statements and belittled the sultan. With Francisco Tuyay
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