( Updated 15:30) All 7 Simunjan NCR landowners arrested and detained since last week for allegedly blockading logging activities and torching a timber camp linked to Roziah Mahmud, the sister of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib are released this morning (25 Oct) on police bail of RM 1000.00 each with one surety.
Prominent native rights activist Nicholas Mujah, four longhouse chiefs and two others were released this morning from the Simunjan police station, a day earlier than expected under the remand order.
All seven were arrested in connection with a fire last week that destroyed a campsite belonging to a logging company linked to Roziah Mahmud, a sister of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud.
The arrests have been condemned by a number of non-governmental organisations and have received the attention of international media.
The seven were ordered to report to Simunjan police on Nov 25.
The four others, Tinsi anak Bunda, Philip Anak Bakat, Neli Anak Nipa and Bawi (only one name given) were arrested a day earlier.
Sadon, Philip, Neli and Bawi are longhouse chiefs.
The police also took statements from 10 other persons from six longhouses, but these were not detained.
Their lawyer, See Chee How, told FMT that police had not charged them with any crime.
The fire that led to the arrests happened last Monday. It destroyed a camp belonging to Royal Billion Sdn Bhd, a contractor engaged by the licensed logger, Quality Concrete Holdings, of which Roziah is a director.
It damaged six tractors, two logging trucks, a pickup truck and an excavator, worth a total of RM2 million, according to Royal Billion.
Mujah is the secretary-general of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association and a member of several national and international NGOs.
Quality Concrete Holdings’ licence from the Forestry Department allows it to carry out logging activities in 3,305 disputed hectares of forest.
Ibans from six longhouses claim that the area is Native Customary Rights land. They allege that the police, the District Officer, the Resident of Samarahan Division and the Lands and Surveys Department have ignored their complaints about the logging.
On Oct 14, they set up a blockade to stop Royal Billion’s workers from encroaching into the land. They have also stopped a tongkang (barge) from loading timber extracted from the disputed area.
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