Malaysia: Sabah NGOs seek UN probe into intrusion impact

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    Twenty-four Sabah NGOs have teamed up under a coalition and are demanding the United Nations (UN) establishes a fact-finding mission on the impact of the on-going intrusion in the state on the lives of the local people.

    The coordinator of the Sabah Coalition of Human Rights Organisations (Sacohuro), Andrew Ambrose (left), said while the media has consistently paid attention to the situation of security personnel, the fears and anxieties of indigenous peoples were being overlooked.

    “Militarisation and the presence of security forces have created many roadblocks restricting the movements of the indigenous peoples in their foraging for food, harvesting, hunting and fishing.

    “The limitations on travel will result on food shortages for them,” Ambrose told a press conference to highlight the situation of indigenous peoples in Asia, together with the UN special rapporteur in Kuala Lumpur today.

    Ambrose, a Kadazan, said the UN fact-finding mission could advise the Malaysian government, which is a signatory to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, to determine the next step to resolving the security and humanitarian crises in Sabah.

    Approached later, UN special rapporteur James Anaya said he received the proposal on the fact-finding mission and would submit it to the UN Human Rights Commission.

    In response to the Sulu militants’ intrusion in Sabah, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak established the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) to oversee the situation.

    ‘Consult local communities on Esscom’

    Esscom covers the area from Kudat to Tawau and Lahad Datu and will serve as a central command. Najib said he would announce more details of the special security zone later.

    Ambrose also called on the federal government to consult with the 32 indigenous communities in Sabah before deploying military troops in Esscom.

    “We should have been consulted… (the establishment) of Esscom did not involve consultation with civil society and NGOs.

    “We believe that with the consent of the indigenous peoples, we can get through with the (Sabah) crisis.”

    Among others at the press conference were Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) commissioner Jannie Lasimbang and Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact secretary-general Joan Carling.

    They have been in Kuala Lumpur for a two-day conference on Asia regional consultation with the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples.

    The issues covered at the conference included the impact on timber extraction on customary land and the impact of national security measures on indigenous peoples.

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