Human rights NGO demands release of arrested Orang Asli activists

PETALING JAYA: Human rights group Pusat Komas has condemned the intimidation and harassment of the Orang Asli community in Gua Musang.

The non-governmental organisation also called for the release of the 47 activists who were arrested on Tuesday when police and forestry department officials dismantled a blockade erected by the Orang Asli to stop logging activities at the Balah forest reserve.

Today, the Gua Musang magistrate court remanded all 47 of them for seven days to facilitate investigations into the blockade deemed illegal by the authorities.

Pusat Komas said the Kelantan state government must be held accountable for harassing the Orang Asli and demanded the immediate release of the activists.

"The state government should have a dialogue with the affected Orang Asli communities to understand the root cause of their grievances and identify effective solutions to the issue.

"The failure of the state government to do so would mean that they do not recognise the rights of the Orang Asli over their ancestral lands," Pusat Komas said in a statement today.

The NGO stressed that the state government should address the root cause of the problem and not use the might of the law against the Orang Asli community.

Pusat Komas said the Orang Asli community had made several attempts to have a dialogue with the state government with regards to their ancestral land, but it had fallen on deaf ears.