Kiram camp claims sending 400 fighters to Sabah | Global News

Kiram camp claims sending 400 fighters to Sabah

By: - Reporter / @NikkoDizonINQ
/ 10:11 PM April 09, 2013

Abraham Idjirani, spokesperson of the Sultanate of Sulu. FILE PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—More than 400 “volunteer fighters” of the so-called sultanate of Sulu have arrived in Lahad Datu, Sabah, to reinforce the sultanate’s “Royal Security Forces (RSF),” triggering clashes with Malaysian security forces, the sultanate’s spokesperson said on Tuesday.

Abraham Idjirani told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone that the men, who were all armed, arrived on the eastern coast of Sabah in two groups between March 30 and April 5.


“They went there because of the continued human rights violations of the Malaysian [security forces] on the Filipinos there,” Idjirani said.


He said the recent arrival of the “volunteer fighters” was a “signal” to the Malaysian government that the sultanate would now press for its claim over its “ancestral right over Sabah.”

“They provoked us, and now we are going beyond our initial demand, that we want to live in peace on our land,” Idjirani said.

“The sultanate’s demand now is to recognize our ancestral right,” he added.

According to Idjirani, fighting between the RSF and Malaysian forces took place on the night of April 6 and 7. He claimed that the Malaysians suffered “heavy casualties” while there were no reported injuries or deaths among the “volunteer fighters.”

He said “the Malaysians attacked when the groups arrived.”

Idjirani and Agbimuddin Kiram, the self-styled “raja muda,” or crown prince who heads the RSF, had apparently been in touch.


The spokesperson claimed that all the information he had received about the situation in Lahad Datu was relayed to him by Agbimuddin, the younger brother of Jamalul Kiram III, who claims to be the sultan of Sulu.

Idjirani said the volunteer fighters came from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and the Zamboanga peninsula. Around 75 percent to 80 percent of them were armed, with the firearms provided by their families and relatives, he added.

He said the people in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and the Zamboanga peninsula were “angry” with the Malaysians for their alleged maltreatment of Filipinos in Sabah.

“About 110 volunteer fighters arrived 13 days ago followed by another group of more or less 200,” Idjirani said.

Malaysian authorities have claimed they are now winding down “Operasi Daulat,” the operations aimed at flushing out the sultanate’s followers after they arrived in Lahad Datu in February to stake a claim to Sabah. The group was led by Agbimuddin.

Fighting between the two forces erupted on March 1. Around 70 supporters of the sultanate have been reported killed, while the Malaysians claimed 10 of their security personnel died in the clashes.

The sultanate revived a long-dormant claim to Sabah, surprising both the Philippines and Malaysia, and straining anew the two countries’ diplomatic relations.

Top security officials of Malaysia also said Agbimuddin had slipped back to Mindanao but according to the Philippine military, it had no information that the raja muda had returned from Sabah.

The clashes and Malaysian government crackdown on allegedly illegal migrants have led to the exodus of thousands of Filipinos living and working in Sabah.

A taxpayer’s suit, meanwhile, has been filed in the Supreme Court to compel the Department of Foreign Affairs to pursue the country’s Sabah claim.

In a 17-page petition for mandamus, businessman Louis “Barok” Biraogo asked the high court to order Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario to bring the Philippine claim to Sabah to the International Court of Justice.

“The territory that is North Borneo (or what Malaysia began to call as Sabah in September 1963) undoubtedly belongs to the Republic of the Philippines by historic right and legal title. Recorded history confirms this,” Biraogo said.

The petitioner argued that “the British government wrongly assumed that North Borneo belonged to the United Kingdom and, thus put, the British government handed over North Borneo to what eventually became Malaysia.”

Despite the protestations of the Philippines, Biraogo said, “Malaysia assumed sovereignty over North Borneo, renamed it Sabah, and refused to relinquish possession thereof to the Republic of the Philippines.”

“Instead of helping the Filipinos who went to Sabah, the Philippine government threatened them with legal action in Philippine courts. Worse, President Aquino concurred in the decision of the Malaysian government to brand as terrorists the Filipino supporters of the sultanate of Sulu who went to Sabah,” he said.

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Biraogo, a political activist, was the main petitioner in the case against the Philippine Truth Commission created by Aquino in 2010.

TAGS: Abraham Idjirani, Global Nation, Jamalul Kiram, Malaysia, Philippines, Sabah, Sultanate of Sulu, territorial disputes, Territories

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