Thursday, March 6, 2014

We are being attacked and no one is protecting us Orang Asli tells human rights commission

BY ELIZABETH ZACHARIAH
MARCH 06, 2014
A group of Orang Asli villagers who were attacked by about 100 foreigners over land rights near Lojing in Kelantan last week said they have received no protection from the authorities despite lodging police reports.
They have now taken their complaint to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) and in a letter, Network of Peninsular Malaysia Orang Asli leader Shafie Dris said six villagers were attacked by about 100 foreign workers while on their way from Lojing to the Kuala Tahu Orang Asli settlement.
The attack was believed to be in retaliation to the Temiar Orang Asli community's claims on customary land rights in Lojing Highlands.
Shafie said a second victim received stitches for the injuries he sustained during the attack while the rest managed to flee the assailants.
One of the victims, identified as Rahman Uda, 41, suffered serious injuries and doctors have said that there was nothing they could do for him.
"The situation is now worrisome as there are rumours that the immigrants will burn the Orang Asli houses in Kuala Tahu," the letter read.
They also said they are not receiving any protection from the police who are trying to cover-up the incident by trying to persuade the indigenous villagers to accept RM500 from the "tauke" (boss) of the foreign workers.
"What is even worse is that the police themselves have not made any arrests and an officer from the Gua Musang district police headquarters tried to cajole them to take up the 'tauke's' offer and warned them no to publicise the matter to the media and other parties," Sharif said.
However, the villagers are adamant to bring up the issue to higher authorities in seeking a solution, and are due to lodge a complaint with the federal police in Bukit Aman soon.
"We are also hoping that Suhakam will be able to pressure the police to act on the errant policeman in Gua Musang," Sharif said.
Orang Asli leaders from the area previously handed a protest note to Suhakam last year, saying that the Kelantan government was taking over their land.
They said that the state government is also in cahoots with the Orang Asli Affairs Department (Jakoa) and everyone including PAS leaders, and that the police have turned against them.

The indigenous people also said that the Kelantan state government was eyeing their land to be used for logging, mining and plantation projects, all of which would displace the communities.
In 2012, police detained 13 Orang Asli from the Temiar community for leading a gathering of 800 in Kampung Parik, Gua Musang, to protest against encroachment of their ancestral land for logging and opening of plantations.
Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam then called on the Kelantan government to protect the rights of its indigenous people, particularly when it came to their ancestral land.
The human rights group had also conducted a national inquiry on the land rights of the Orang Asli in order to come up with recommendations for the federal and state governments to review the domestic land laws and policies through a human rights approach.
The inquiry, with 18 recommendations, was released in August last year after two years of investigations.
It was reported that Putrajaya ordered a task force to be set up to study the report, which includes calls to form a tribunal on Orang Asli land rights. – March 5, 2014.
~ The Malaysian Insider

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