Three men from Temiar Orang Asli group detained

23 Jul 2019 / 18:04 H.

PETALING JAYA: Three men from the Temiar Orang Asli group in Kg Papan, in Gerik, Perak, were arrested in a joint operation (Ops Bersepadu) yesterday.

Gerik OCPD Supt Ismail Che Isa confirmed the arrest on Johan Aleuj, Pam Yeek, and Shukri Man.

Their arrest follows another blockade by the community on Monday to keep the loggers from continuing their activities on a 42ha land at the village near the Air Chepam Forest Reserve.

Ismail said the arrests were made under Section 431 of the Penal Code that concerns mischief by rendering any public road, bridge or river impassable. The offence carries a punishment of imprisonment of up to five years or fine or both.

Their arrests were highlighted by the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) on their Facebook page.

The Association for the Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Seri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil slammed the arrests saying: “We condemn the Perak Mentri Besar on the action to arrest the three men who are defending their customary land in spite of a call by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy (who had raised) their plight to the authorities.

“Our lawyers will be going there (to Gerik) today to assist them. Continuous arrests of the Orang Asli by the police for defending their customary land rights which are guaranteed under the Federal Constitution and Common Law in Gerik is regrettable.

“The statement made by the Jabatan Perhutanan Negara yesterday is uncalled for and is very premature. Orang Asli people in Gerik are united against the state encroachments into their customary land.

“Peka is urging all Malaysians to stand united and firmly question the legal rights of the Orang Asli people towards their land. I categorically make a firm stand that no Orang Asli has encroached into the state land, but it is otherwise, “ she said.

At press time, Ahmad Faizal could not be reached for comments.

Last Saturday, three men from the same village were also hauled up to have their statements taken. They were released unconditionally in the afternoon.

Ismail said two reports were received on Wednesday and Friday from a logging company, who were upset with the blockades.

He added that workers attempted to break the blockade at the village with bulldozers on Thursday, but the state’s Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) stopped it.

Waytha had recently stressed that the Orang Asli customary land rights were recognised as superior to the right of state governments.

“Time and time again the highest court in Malaysia has recognised the Orang Asli customary land rights as superior and supersedes the right of the state governments under the Federal Constitution.

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