Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Iban arrested on suspicion of 'masterminding' blockade



Kapit, Sarawak – Ondie anak Jugah, 55, an indigenous Dayak-Iban, has been arrested and remanded today on suspicion of ‘masterminding’ a blockade at Rh Umping Lepong in Balleh, Kapit. He was taken in by the police after three reports were made by the logging company, Melukun Sdn Bhd, who is logging in the longhouse community’s native land area. Nine people, including two women, were at the blockade when Ondie was arrested. The police indicate that he will be remanded for a night for investigation.

In the meantime, the longhouse community has reaffirmed their determination to continue their blockade.

The arrest is the latest in a series of arrests and detentions occurring as a result of the decades old conflict between Indigenous peoples and the logging and oil palm companies that have encroached onto their native territories. While Sarawak constitution and laws provide for the recognition of native land rights, weak government leadership and policy has led to the issuance of logging and oil palm permits in the same areas where indigenous peoples live.

Malaysian native leader detained over anti-logging


KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian police said Saturday they had arrested a native leader who set up roadblocks in Borneo to stop a logging firm from encroaching on their ancestral land.

Ondie Jugah, 55, from the Iban indigenous group, was among a group of 10 people who have mounted a blockade since early this week in the interior of eastern Sarawak state, on Borneo island.

Police said Ondie was detained late Friday after he refused to remove the blockade, following complaints filed by the logging company.

"We directed him to open up the road but he refused, so we have to take him back to facilitate investigation," a senior police official from the local Kapit district, who did not want to be named, told AFP.

Police said Ondie was expected to be released later Saturday after questioning.

Ondie's son, Anthony, urged the police to release his father, saying they were merely protecting their home.

"They (the logging company) want to destroy our land and did not want to compensate us," the 29-year-old told AFP.

Nicholas Mujah, secretary general of indigenous rights group Sarawak Dayak Iban Association, condemned the arrest as a form of "harassment" of the vulnerable group and demanded the authorities respect native land rights.

The native Iban people are the largest indigenous group in Sarawak, making up almost half of the state's two million population. Other indigenous groups include Kenyah, Kayan and about 10,000 Penan people.

The Penan, some of whom are nomadic hunter-gatherers, have complained that their way of life is under threat from extensive logging of their traditional hunting grounds, as well as the spread of palm oil and timber plantations.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Malaysia’s statement on Indigenous Issues at the UN GA 19 October


Mr. Chairman,

On 13 September 2007, Malaysia joined 143 other countries which voted in favour of General Assembly Resolution 61J295 to adopt the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of lndigenous Peoples. The Declaration was significant in that the whole spectrum of individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples were recognised. The Declaration sets out the principles and standards to which all stakeholders should strive for. For Malaysia, ensuring the protection of the rights and the development of our indigenous populations has always been a national priority, and we have undertaken various efforts in this regard.

Mr. Chairman,

2. Malaysia agrees with the recommendation contained in the report to the General Assembly by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms, contained in document N64/338, for there to be greater coordination between his mandate, the Permanent Forum on Indigenous lssues and the expert mechanism on the rights of indigenous peoples. Such coordination would help to avoid duplication within the UN lndigenous lssues structure, and provide coherence to the roles and responsibilities of the Special Rapporteur, the Forum and the expert mechanism, and ensure effectiveness and efficiency.

3. Malaysia further agrees with the conclusion of the Special Rapporteur that the Declaration does not bestow a special or new set of rights, but contextualizes elaboration of general human right principles and rights as they relate to the circumstances of indigenous peoples. This concept is essential to ensure that the positive standards in the principles do not get lost in the discourse on the legal status of the document – a phenomenon that we increasingly observe.

4. These two points mentioned are increasingly significant in the context of recent developments. Malaysia values the Permanent Forum on lndigenous lssues as one means for indigenous peoples throughout the world to come together and have a unified voice at the international level. We also appreciate the work by the Member States and members of the Forum to bring understanding and cooperation between states and indigenous peoples. However, the cause of indigenous rights is not assisted with the defacto attempt by the Permanent Forum to change the legal understanding of the Declaration and its mandates through the issuance of a general comment at its Eighth Session in May this year. As a subsidiary organ of the Economic and Social Council, the basis of any new function for the Forum requires the consideration of the intergovernmental process of the ECOSOC, and the Forum cannot assume for itself a role as a treaty body – of which the Declaration itself is not a treaty nor legally-binding.

5. While the intention of the Forum in issuing this comment was noble, it has instead triggered debate on the credibility and the roles and responsibilities of the Forum, and this debate harms and delays the acceptance of the Declaration as a set of principles, ideals, and rights which all member states can fully accept and strive for.

Mr. Chairman,

6. At the national level, the status of indigenous people in Malaysia has been recognized since even before the time of our national independence. The Aboriginal People Act of 1954 was enacted to provide for the protection, well-being and advancement of the aboriginal people of West Malaysia. The legal recognition of indigenous peoples was enshrined in the Federal Constitution following independence in 1957 and later expanded to include the native peoples of the states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo following the creation of Malaysia in 1963. The principle of non-discrimination on any basis is enshrined in our constitution and this also extends to our indigenous peoples. The most significant challenge which besets Malaysia is providing indigenous peoples with development while assisting them to safeguard their customs and cultures. Our policies and strategies thus focus on uplifting the status and quality of life of the indigenous community via socioeconomic programmes and giving priority to help them preserve their traditional cultural heritage.

Mr. Chairman,

7. Allow me to share some of the various measures undertaken to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples in Malaysia, and these include the following:

7.1 Firstly, at the political level, the Federal Governmen1 appoints as Senators a representative from the Thai and Orang Asli communities respectively. At the local level, the headman of the indigenous group has the right to exercise his authority in matters of aboriginal custom and belief. Additionally, in the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak, Native Courts have jurisdiction on matters of native law and

7.2 Secondly, education remains important to allow indigenous groups to overcome the challenges from modern and mainstream society while safeguarding their customs. In this regard, a modified curriculum has been introduced in Orang Asli, and in the Penan schools of Sarawak that takes into consideration the knowledge relevant to the indigenous groups and adopts indigenous pedagogy;

7.3 Thirdly, indigenous groups which prefer continuing a nomadic lifestyle are allowed to continue with their traditions. For both nomadic and settled indigenous groups, public services are provided through a number of ways. Amongst these are service centres in strategically located districts that provide essential basic services and facilities for the surrounding areas, education assistance, health and medical services through a Flying Doctors programme and mobile clinics, and agriculture extension services to assist in agricultural development. Infrastructure assistance for settled communities includes basic amenities, housing assistance programmes and road projects. Economic development includes agriculture and livestock projects and human capital development includes skills training and motivational programmes;

7.4 Fourthly, with regard to land rights, land rights for indigenous people are adequately protected under existing laws, including the right to compensation. State Governments in Malaysia, with support from the Federal Government, have gazetted various tracts of land for settled indigenous groups, as well as for semi-nomadic groups for hunting and gathering. Malaysian courts have also progressively recognized customary land rights; and

7.5 Finally, all efforts are undertaken to prevent indigenous peoples from being the subject of violence or exploitation. In this regard, an interagency committee has been established at the national level to investigate reports of alleged sexual harassment and abuse of indigenous women, involving various Federal Ministries, the relevant State Government, police and civil society. Our national human rights institution, SUHAKAM, also plays an important role in investigating and reporting of abuse.

Thank you.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Sarawak Conservation Action Network (SCANE)

Sarawak Conservation Action Network (SCANE)


19 September 2009

Miri, Sarawak

On behalf of the Sarawak Conservation Action Network (SCANE), we protest strongly the baseless accusations of Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu anak Numpang that the signatures of the communities on the Murum Dam memorandum are false.

We invite the Deputy Chief Minister to point out which signatures are fake and we will produce the person who signed it. Furthermore, we invite the Deputy Chief Minister to actually visit the villages that are protesting the dam so he can understand the sentiment on the ground.

It is an insult to the Penan communities who have traveled very far to get to Kuching to meet with their elected leaders, when these leaders themselves are afraid to come out and receive the memorandum.

On the other hand, we take it as a positive sign that the Deputy Chief Minister had actually seen and read the memorandum to see the signatures. We therefore call upon him to listen to the concerns of the signatories that are listed in the memorandum.

In summary these concerns revolve around the dam flooding the villagers’ homes and because of the problems facing previous dam resettlement schemes (eg Bakun), the communities are informing the government they will not give their free, prior and informed consent to the dam at this time.

In the words of one of the Penan representatives Sui Along, “The government is only interested in knowing when we are going to move. They have not asked us if we agree to building the dam on our land.”

Until the Sarawak State Government engages effectively with the communities, there is no evidence that any consultation or consent process has taken place. We therefore call upon our elected leaders to support and listen to the voices of the communities.

Raymond Abin


Sarawak Conservation Network

Another 15 Indigenous Peoples Detained in Sarawak

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia
Media Release

Another 15 Indigenous Peoples Detained in Sarawak

18 September 2009

Sri Aman, Sarawak - After the arrest and release of 15 indigenous people in Sarawak on Malaysia Day, another 15 indigenous Iban have been reported arrested in the Pantu District in Sarawak, for the alleged crime of harvesting oil palm fruits that have been grown on their native land. This was done in response to a police complaint filed by trespassing company Pelita-Tetangga Akrab.

From reports on the ground, the group consisted of 20 Iban but the 5 women in the group were allowed to go free. Though there are no plans to charge the group, the police claim to be unable to release the 15 men until their statements are taken. To add insult to injury, they will have to spend a night in custody due to a lack of a photocopy machine with which to make copies of their identification documents.

"This is a clear case of harassment," said Nicholas Mujah, Secretary General of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association. "They are not going to be charged and yet they will have to spend one night in the custody of the police. It shows that the companies are able to exert influence over the police and government."

The communities' farm land was taken by Pelita-Tetangga Akrab in 2003 in a joint venture to plant oil palm, despite immediate protest and the filing of a court case by the communities affected. Though they have claimed to do this JV with the community, the vast majority of the communities rejected the project and their right to free, prior and informed consent ignored.

As a desperate measure, the villagers have taken to harvesting the oil palm fruit that was grown on their land. Though numerous reports and complaints to the police have been made by the villagers, these have fallen on deaf ears.

"The government wants the natives to not leave their NCR lands idle. But when the native communities want to develop their own land by planting cash crops such as oil palm, they are being penalised", said Mark Bujang, Executive Director of Borneo Resources Institute, Malaysia (BRIMAS).

In Sarawak, native land rights are recognized by the Sarawak State Constitution and their rights to these lands have been reaffirmed through several key judgments in the Malaysian Courts.

For more information please contact:
Nicholas Mujah (+6-016-876)

Jen Rubis
Media Liaison
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia/ Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia
Jen Rubis
Mobile: +6019 856 6251
Email: jen.rubis@gmail. com (forwards to jennaiel@gmail. com)
Skype: jennaiel
Online updates at: twitter.com/ funnywhitedog

Thursday, 17 September 2009

A disgraceful incident in Sarawak

To Whom It May Concern:

Please accept this letter as a protest regarding the recent arrest of 15 indigenous Sarawakians for no apparent reason than that other than freedom of speech regarding a proposed building of hydro electric dams in their community and surrounding area.

I lived in Borneo for a period of 3 years and am deeply troubled by this incident. Many Australians are also outrages by such an incident.

I absolutely condemn and protest against the unlawful arrest and urge you to do everything in your power to conduct a full scale and fair investigation

Such events will only add another ugly blot to Malaysian's human rights and environmental record, which has been stated by the government in previous years it has been eager to improve on many occasions.

Yours sincerely

Zan King

Zan King

Kanyirninpa Jukurrpa Cultural Awareness and Field Consultancy Coordinator

P: 08 9175 7551
M: 0408478233
E: zan.king@kj.org.au



17 September 2009


Kuching, Sarawak. On the day that Malaysia was formed, 15 indigenous peoples who stood for four hours outside the Chief Minister’s office on behalf of longhouses and villages in Sarawak that would be affected by two proposed dams were arrested outside the office of the Chief Minister as they waited to submit a simple memorandum. Among those arrested were JOAS leaders Mark Bujang (BRIMAS), Raymond Abin (SCAN) and Hellan Empaing (WADESA) who were there in support of the Penan, Iban, Kayan and Kenyah representatives of the affected communities.

"We came to Kuching city to give a memo to the Chief Minister because we were not happy with the Murum Dam construction. If this continues, our lands will drown, and how are we supposed to live and survive? This memo contains our concerns so that the state government can listen to our worries." said Sui Along, Penan representative from Long Luar, a village in the affected area of Murum.

The police arrested the 15 after receiving a call from the Chief Minister’s office. After being held for seven hours without food and water by local police, they were charged with illegal assembly and released on bail. They will be expected to appear in court on 29 September 2009.

The proposed Murum dam is the first of 12 new proposed dams to be built throughout Sarawak. Quickly announced by the government after NGOs found plans on these dams on internet websites of the Chinese contractors, these dams were planned without prior consultation of the affected communities, let alone the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples on whose lands these dams would be built. In its inception, the still constructed and highly controversial Bakun dam was touted as being able to supply the energy needs of Malaysia, bringing into question the need for an additional 12 dams.

Rubbishing state leader claims that local NGOs had instigated the incident, BRIMAS Executive Director Mark Bujang said that they had responded to the communities because no one else wanted to listen. “We brought these remote communities together in Kuching to discuss their common concerns. For many of them, this was the first time they had come down to the city centre and they stated to us they wanted their concerns to be heard by representatives of the government and so we lent moral support to them.”

SCANE Director Raymond Abin said that when the representatives of the local government refused to listen, the communities wanted to come to Kuching. “Now that we have come all the way here to where our government leaders are, they still refuse to listen to us,” he said. “This questions their sincerity in saying they are concerned about listening to the indigenous peoples of Sarawak.”

JOAS President Adrian Lasimbang said the arrest and blatant intimidation of the indigenous peoples showed clearly the lack of commitment by the state government to internationally recognized frameworks of consent and consultation that form part of the collective rights of indigenous peoples and added that “In solidarity with JOANGOHUTAN, we support the call to the EU to suspend FLEG negotiations with Malaysia in view of the flagrant disregard of the government for free, prior informed consent and consultation with communities affected by logging and by development projects. We additionally call for the Malaysian government to review its policies to ensure that international law, especially those concerning human rights and the rights of indigenous peoples, is mainstreamed.” This violation is contradictory to article 32 (2) of the UNDRIP that stated States shall consult and cooperate in good faith with the indigenous peoples concerned through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free and informed consent prior to the approval of any project affecting their lands or territories and other resources, particularly in connection with the development, utilization or exploitation of mineral, water or other resources.

The full list of indigenous peoples detained are: Mark Bujang (Executive Director of Borneo Research Institute, BRIMAS), Hellan Empaing (President of Wanita Desa Sarawak, WADESA), Dominic Ng, Johannes Ya, Rukka anak Laku, Philan Yau, Nan Evan, Simon Saging, Ramly anak Datuk, Abin Bira, Sui Alloh, Nang Buleng, Panai Irang, Bujang Dalong, and Koleh Ngo.

BRIMAS – Borneo Resources Institute, Sarawak’s leading NGO and supporting NGO to JOAS
SCANE – Sarawak Conservation Network, a coalition of leading environmental and indigenous rights organizations in Sarawak
JOANGOHUTAN – Network of Indigenous Peoples and NonGovernmental Oragnizations on Forest Issues
WADESA – Sarawak Native Women’s Association

For more information, please contact:

Jen Rubis
Media Liaison




16 September 2009

Ketika Malaysia merayakan ulang tahun ke 46, seramai 15 Orang Asal Sarawak telah ditahan Polis semasa cuba untuk menyerahkan memorandum bantahan kepada Ketua Menteri Sarawak. Antara mereka yang ditahan adalah Mark Bujang (BRIMAS), Raymond Abin (BRIMAS) dan Hellan Empaing (WADESA), mereka semua merupakan pemimpin Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) bersama dengan perwakilan dari komuniti Kayan, kenyah dan Penan Sarawak.

Kumpulan tersebut yang terdiri daripada 6 penan, 4 Iban, 2 Kayan dan 3 Kenyah merupakan wakil dari komuniti yang akan mendapat kesan dari 2 empangan besar yang akan dibina di kawasan mereka. Mereka telah menyediakan satu memorandum mengenai isu tersebut dan berhasrat untuk menyerahkannya kepada pejabat Ketua Menteri Sarawak di Wisma Bapa Malaysia di Bandaraya Kuching. Ketika menunggu pengesahan penerimaan dokumen tersebut, mereka telah ditahan oleh polis tempatan. Mereka kini ditahan di Balai Polis Gita di Petra Jaya, Kuching, Sarawak. Masih belum jelas jika mereka akan didakwah, atau apa-apa sebab keatas penahanan mereka.

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia dengan keras mengecam penahanan ahlinya yang ingin menyampaikan memorandum bagi pihak Orang Asal di kawasan Baram dan Murum, Sarawak. Memorandum ini membantah tindakan kerajaan Negeri Sarawak untuk membina empangan hidro elektrik di kawasan ini tanpa Izin melalui makluman awal, bebas dan telus dari komuniti yang terlibat serta tidak menghiraukan status tanah adat yang terlibat. Tindakan kerajaan Negeri Sarawak ini adalah satu percanggahan yang jelas terhadap Deklarasi Hak Orang Asal, Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu yang telah disokong penuh oleh kerajaan Malaysia.

Kami juga mengecam pengunaan cara penahanan untuk tujuan menakut-nakutkan dan melenyapkan suara komuniti yang mempertikaikan pembinaan empagan besar di kawasan yang terlibat. Ini menunjukkan keengganan kerajaan Negeri Sarawak untuk memastikan penglibatan yang penuh dan efektif oleh Orang Asal dalam projek yang akan member kesan terhadap mereka.

Kami menuntut kerajaan Negeri Sarawak agar membebaskan kesemua 15 warga Sarawak yang ditahan dan menjalankan proses konsultasi dengan komuniti yang terlibat. Kami juga menuntut hak komuniti ini terhadap tanah adat yang dilindungi oleh Perlembagaan dihormati. Penahanan ini juga adalah satu pencabulan terhadap hak pehimpunan secara aman yang dijamin dibawah artikel 10 Perlembagaan Persekutuan.

Yang Benar,

Adrian Lasimbang
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)

Untuk maklumat lanjut, sila hubungi:

Jennifer Rubis
Media Liasion


16 September 2009

As Malaysia commemorates its 46th anniversary, 15 indigenous Sarawakians have been detained by Kuching police for trying to send a memorandum of protest to the Sarawak Chief Minister. Among those arrested are Mark Bujang (BRIMAS), Raymond Abin (BRIMAS) and Hellan Empaing (WADESA), all leaders of the Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (Indigenous Peoples Network of Malaysia) as well as representatives from the Kayan, Kenyah and Penan
communities of Sarawak.

The contingent, consisting of 6 Penan, 4 Iban, 2 Kayan and 3 Kenyah are all representatives of communities who will be affected by two major dams which are being built in their areas. They had prepared a memorandum on the issue and were delivering it to Wisma Bapa Malaysia, the office of the Chief Minister. While waiting for endorsement of the document, they were arrested
by local police. They are currently being held in the Kampung Gita Police Station in Petra Jaya, Kuching, Sarawak. It is uncertain whether they are being charged, or what reasons are being given for their detention.

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia strongly condemns the detention of its members who were attempting to deliver a memorandum on behalf of the indigenous peoples of the Baram and Murum areas of Sarawak. The memorandum protested the State Government’s actions to build hydro electric dams in these areas without the free, prior and informed consent of the ommunities affected and without due regards to the status of the native lands involved. The actions of the State Government are in clear contradiction to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Malaysia strongly supports.

We also condemn the use of arrest to intimidate and silence the voices of the communities who are questioning the construction of large dams on the area. This demonstrates the unwillingness of the State Government to ensure the full and effective participation of indigenous peoples in projects that affect them.

We call upon the Sarawak State Government to immediately release all fifteen Sarawakians and engage in a proper consultative process with the affected communities. We also call for the espect of the constitutional native land rights of these communities. It is also in violation of the right to peaceful assembly, guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution.

Yours truly,
Adrian Lasimbang
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS)

For more information, please also contact:
Jennifer Rubis
Media Liasion