Advocacy group for the indigenous people Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Semenanjung Malaysia (JKOASM) has urged for an immediate stop to intimidation tactics and violence against the indigenous people who are blockading a logging trail.
Their call comes after reports that a blockade by a group of Orang Asli along a logging trail deep in the interior of Gua Musang had been destroyed by loggers on Wednesday.
“JKOASM is disappointed and strongly condemned this kind of violence because what have been done is extremely inhumane and goes against their human rights as the rightful owners of that area as well as Malaysian citizens,” said JKOASM chairperson Tijah Yok Chopil in a statement today.
It is, after all, the duty and responsibility of the Orang Asli to preserve and defend the forests from any destruction, trespassing and logging, she said.
She also said that what happened at Gua Musang shows that outsiders, including the government and police, look down on the Orang Asli and have no respect for them.
Commenting on what happened at Gua Musang, she said that releasing a shot to threaten or intimidate the Orang Asli is a crime and the police should investigate this issue.
The Orang Asli at the Gua Musang blockade had claimed that an armed man in a logging lorry had fired warning shots at them.
“The Orang Asli are always blamed and treated as if we have no right. We’re also treated badly and looked down upon by the other races in issues related to rights and land,” she said.
They are the ones who are affected by the destruction of the forests, she said, as their source of livelihood is destroyed along with the forests.
She said the Orang Asli are also disappointed by the assumption that they are only fighting for their rights due to instigation from external sources.
They have been denied their rights for far too long, she said, and that is why they are fighting their oppression.
The Orang Asli in Gua Musang first set up their blockade on Monday and when it was destroyed, three activists were detained by men allegedly posing as police officers.
Gua Musang police chief Rajab Ahad Ismail had said that police officers were not involved in the trio’s arrest.
Meanwhile, Kelantan police today said they will conduct an investigation in connection with the inciednt in Gua Musang, Bernama reported.
Kelantan Police chief Ab Rahman Ismail said so far one police report each was received from the loggers and Orang Asli concerned.
The police also lodged a report for alleged involvement in the commotion, he said.