MANILA - Journalists were among those who asked the United Nations (UN) to intervene and probe alleged human rights violations committed by Malaysians against Filipinos in Sabah.
Journalists Vergel Santos and Ellen Tordesillas are two of the 27 signatories in two separate petitions before UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay and UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres.
The group said Filipinos in Sabah have been “subjected to massive and gross human rights abuses by Malaysian state agents, in violation of the [Universal Declaration of Human Rights].”
Harry Roque, one of the petitioners, said: “Fortunately, civil society organizations will move to protect and promote the human rights of Filipinos in Sabah especially when our government has failed in this regard. Human right, after all, has ceased to be a purely domestic issue and is now a concern for the international community.”
The group cited different media accounts of those caught in the conflict between the men of Sultan Jamalul Kiram III of Sulu and Malaysian forces.
Several accounts alleged that Malaysians continued to attack Filipinos even if they had shown proof they were in Sabah to work.
“If you’re a Tausug, you will surely land in jail even if you had valid papers,” the group quoted 21-year-old Sherilyn Viado as saying.
The group also quoted Davao-based Amira Taradji, who alleged seeing Malaysian policemen order Filipino men to run as fast as they can but still “opened fire on them.”
Taradji’s brother, Jumadil, was one of those killed in the operations.
The group also noted the observation of Sulu Mayor Hussin Amin, who saw children and women “deeply traumatized” as they tried to flee even when they saw Filipino policemen.
The group also asked the UN to “remind Malaysia that it provide effective remedies and compensation to the Filipino victims of the massive and gross human rights violations committed against them in Sabah by Malaysian state agents.”