Sarawak activists claim that a plantation company said to be linked to the BN is now employing strongarm tactics such as firearms and hit and run attacks against indigenous land owners.
A native from Selangau, Sarawak has been allegedly hit-and-run by gangsters hired by a plantation company, said indigenous rights activist Nicholas Mujah when contacted by Malaysiakini today.
Nicholas, (left) who is the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) secretary general, said Semawi Renang was deliberately run over by a vehicle after organizing villagers to erect a blockade at a Selangau oil palm plantation.
He said the native community leader was currently warded in the Sibu Hospital with a broken leg and other injuries.
The seeds of the dispute were apparently sown when native landowners entered into a joint-venture project with the company modelled on a new native customary right (NCR) land development programme.
However, the landowners claimed they were cheated of their promised dividends which drove them into harvesting the oil palm fruits themselves and putting up the blockade two weeks ago.
Ambushed while going for bath
Nicholas also said the natives had engaged land rights lawyer Baru Bian since August last year to sue the company.
“The blockade was lifted recently, but the harvesting of the oil palm continues.
“The attack happened three days ago while he was going to bathe in a river, and the assailants were recognized to be associated with the company,” said Nicholas, who has been advising the natives on their land dispute since last year.
He said other acts of intimidation have occurred, the latest being last week when Semawi’s pick-up truck became the target of shotgun attack.
Semawi is widely respected among the villagers for leading the resistance on the ground.
He added that police reports were immediately lodged, but so far there has been no sign of any action being taken.
The incident has also been highlighted in an extended podcast by underground radio station Radio Free Sarawak that includes interviews with some of the locals.
The station reported that the attack has pushed the villagers into reviving an ancient Iban ritual to summon the help of the gods in the upcoming ‘war’ against their enemies.
“The villagers are getting angrier, and they will not retreat because of this.
Nicholas added: “In fact, they (the villagers) have become even more united and the plantation harvest protest will continue.”