Native landowners from as far as Simunjan, Sebangan, Lundu and Sri Aman displayed a united stand at a rally in Kuching today.

They urged Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud to return lands that have been grabbed, to respect the rights of the natives on land and respect the decision of the courts on the definition of native customary rights (NCR) land.

They also want the state government to cease immediately the construction of mega dams as well as to stop exploiting the state's resources.

These demands were also made in Sibu, Miri and Bintulu during rallies organised in conjunction with Human Rights Day which has been declared by the United Nations to be observed worldwide on December 10 every year.

nicholas bawin pkr candidate for batang ai state seat 270209 05"The show of force from the various communities that took part in the rally in Kuching is a clear message to the chief minister that he must respect the rights of the natives," said Nicholas Bawin (left), one of the rally leaders at Padang Merdeka.

"Taib must listen to the voice of the people and stop violating their rights, robbing them of their communal forest and exploiting the state's resources. He must also stop the construction of the dams," said Bawin.

Meanwhile, in Miri, Mark Bujang, coordinator of Gerakan Rakyat Sarawak (Grass) which organised the rally, said that throughout the years, NCR land has been unjustly grabbed or destroyed for various projects such as logging, oil palm and tree planting estates, mega dam construction, quarrying and construction of large polluting industries like aluminum smelter plants.

"Some of the natives have sought redress through the judicial system and have obtained landmark decisions through the courts.

"The courts have accepted that NCR land is not only restricted to 'temuda' (cleared cultivated land), but also extends to 'pulau galau' (reserved forest areas) and 'pemakai menua' (communal territory) which is consistent with native customs.

"However, the Sarawak state government continues to reject the courts' decision by way of appealing to the higher courts.
NONE"The recent statement by Special Functions Minister Adenan Satem (right) in the just-concluded Sarawak state legislative assembly sitting that NCR land is only confined to temuda, shows the state government's stand on this long standing issue," he said.

In Sibu, about 400 participants representing various communities including from Sungai Assam, Sungai Igan, Selangau, Balingian, Mukah, Kanowit, Machan, Poi and Ngemah, gathered at the Chuang Corridor of the Sibu Town Square.

These communities have experienced losses or face threats toward their NCR land. A similar gathering was also held in Bintulu.