Lahad Datu stand-off: Engage in dialogue now with stakeholders to resolve crisis peacefully

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Malaysian and Philippine civil society groups issued a joint statement last month calling for immediate dialogue to resolve the conflict in Sabah.

Map: Philippine Daily Inquirer
Map: Philippine Daily Inquirer

We, the undersigned civil society organisations (CSOs) from Malaysia and Philippines, are extremely concerned over the ongoing standoff between the Malaysian security forces and followers of the Sultanate of Sulu’s heirs, Jamalul Kiram III at Lahad Datu, Sabah.

We the CSOs, together with all individuals, organisations and networks, urgently call upon President Benigno S Aquino III of the Philippines, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of Malaysia and Sultan Jamalul Kiram III, to disavow all forms of violence, and instead support dialogue as the primary mechanism for a resolution to the siege.

We are very concerned and worried about the security of civilians in Lahad Datu, Semporna and the surrounding villages and we would like to see a peaceful solution to resolve this ongoing problem. According to media reports, at least 60 people have been killed in Lahad Datu, Semporna and Kampung Tanduo, Sabah.

We believe the situation in Lahad Datu requires swift and peaceful intervention. We urge all parties to resist using force while remaining committed to dialogue and negotiation throughout this process.

We are also very concerned with the lack of real-time information with respect to what has actually taken place so far in Lahad Datu. Up to this point the information received through the Malaysian news media lacks transparency and created unnecessary rumours and assumptions about the situation. The people have the right to get the information on ongoing issues in Sabah.

In this context, we call on the governments of Malaysia and Philippines and the Sultanate of Sulu to:

Immediately declare a humanitarian ceasefire so that agencies concerned can take immediate measures to ensure the safety of women, children, elderly and other vulnerable persons in the affected area. And provide ‘safe zones’ where humanitarian organisations and relevant agencies can instal facilities to be accessed by those who are injured and require immediate medical care;

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Take immediate steps to end the use of violence and to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders to resolve the crisis peacefully.

Take proper measures to ensure that in the process of resolving the crisis, the human rights of everyone involved are respected and protected especially civilians from Lahad Datu, Semporna and nearby villages;

Take immediate measures to secure the safety of journalists who chose to access the area at all times to ensure fair reporting and dissemination of information to the general public;

Cease and desist from using excessive force and armed violence to end the prevailing conflict.

Initiate an independent and impartial investigation into the killings that have taken place and make the findings of the investigation public.

We fervently dissuade all the principals involved from brinkmanship by instead living up to your respective legacies as genuine leaders of your people with honour and dignity.

We urge you to come to terms with the unfolding of events that has serious implications on many lives and social institutions. We all can’t afford that this will escalate into a grave humanitarian crisis spilling over into other nearby villages aside from Lahad Datu and Semporna, Sabah.

Time is of the essence. The world is looking at you, now.

Civil society of Malaysia and Philippines
8 March 2013

Signatories:

MALAYSIA

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
Tenaganita
Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)
JUMP
ALIRAN (Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara)
Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
Justice for Sisters
Seksualiti Merdeka
Pusat KOMAS
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
Community Action Network (CAN)
Persatuan Sahabat wanita Selangor
Community Development Centre (CDC)
Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
Malaysia Youth & Students Democratic Movement (DEMA)
All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (EMPOWER)

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PHILIPPINES

Mindanao PeaceWeavers (MPW)
Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID)
Philippine Center for Islam and Democracy (PCID)
Free Burma Coalition – Philippines (FBCP)
Active Citizenship Foundation (ACF)
Agri-Aqua Development Coalition, Mindanao
AGONG Peace Network, Mindanao
Akbayan Citizens Action Party
Alliance of Progressive Labor (APL)
Balay Mindanaw Foundation, Inc
Banwaon One Tribe, One Territory, Mindanao
Center for Peace Education – Miriam College
Citizen’s Peace Watch
Civil Peace Service Program – Southern Christian College
Coalition of Social Development Organizations
Coalition for the Development of Sibuguey – Western Mindanao
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society
Council of Organized Social Service Agencies in Mindanao
Derepa te Erumanen ne Menuvu, Mindanao
Focus on the Global South -Philippines
Gitib Inc., Mindanao
GZO Peace Institute
Human Rights Defenders-Pilipinas (HRDP)
Institute for Popular Democracy (IPD)
Interreligious Solidarity Movement for Peace (IRSMP)
IQRAA Islam Foundation
KAGDUMA, Incorporated, Mindanao
Kampanya para sa Makataong Pamumuhay (KAMP)
Kebager te Ked-Inged, Mindanao
Kahugpongan sa Mindanaw
KAISA
Landcare Foundation of the Philippines, Inc
Lumad Mindanaw Peoples’ Federation
Mindanao Peoples Peace Movement
Mindanao Peace Advocates Conference
Mindanao Coalition of Development NGO Networks (MINCODE) Secretariat
Mindanao Alliance of Self-Help Societies – Southern Philippines Educational Cooperative Center
Mindanao Congress of Development NGOs and NGIs –Mindanao
Mindanao Solidarity Network (MSN)
Network for Transformative Social Protection
Pambansang Kilusan ng mga Samahang Magsasaka (PAKISAMA)
Partnership of Philippine Support Services Agencies – Mindanao
Pakigdait, Incorporated
Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM)
Partido ng Manggagawa (PM)
Pasaday Manobo Association (PAMAAS)
Pax Christi Institute – Philippines
Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ)
People’s Alternative Studies Center for Research & Education in Social Dev’t (PASCRES)
People’s Global Exchange (PGX)
Philippine Human Rights Information Center (Philrights)
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates (PAHRA)
Philippine Business for Social Progress – Mindanao
Philippine Partnership for the Devt of Human Resources in Rural Areas (PHILDHRRA)
Redemptorist Center for Social and Ecological Concerns – Mindanao
SANLAKAS
SANLAKAS-Youth
SOCSKSARGEN Sociological Society
SPREAD – Oblates of Notre Dame
Sulong CARHRIHL
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines (TFDP)
Women Engaged in Action on 1325 (We Act 1325)
Women’s Human Rights and Legal Bureau (WLB)
World March of Women – Pilipinas
Young Moro Professionals
Pinay Kilos
Derepa te Erumanen ne Menuvu
Mindanao Indigenous People Women Development

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REGIONAL/GLOBAL

Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict – Southeast Asia (SEA-GPPAC)
Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC)
ALTSEAN- Burma
Asia-Pacific Movement on Debt & Development (JSAPMDD)
Coalition Against Trafficking in Women-Asia Pacific (CATW-AP)
International Peace Bureau (IPB)
ISIS International
Media Defense – Southeast Asia

BANGLADESH

Humanitywatch
NABODHARA, Bangladesh

BURMA/MYANMAR

Generation Wave Institute

CAMBODIA

Housing Rights Task Force (HRTF)

EAST TIMOR

East Timor Students Solidarity Council (ETSSC)

GERMANY

Asienstiftung (German Asia Foundation)
Philippinenbüro – Asienhaus

INDIA

Burma Centre Delhi

NEPAL

All Nepal Peasants Federation (ANPFa)
All Nepal Women Association (ANWA)

PAKISTAN

Center For Peace & Civil Society (CPCS)

INDIVIDUALS

Prof. Anuradha Chenoy, University of India
Prof. Kamal Mitra Chenoy, University of India
Mr. Ramon Casiple, IPER, Philippines
Ms. Sia Phearum, Director, HRTF Cambodia
Mmk, Tggw, Myanmar

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Major (Rtd) D.Swami

Do not expect peaceful negotiations when you land with arms and kill our people. All the bluster and boast has come to naught, after Malaysia defended itself. Everyone of them should be wiped out to the last man. You left wingers always come to the fore excusing away the aggressors.