KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 30 ― Orang Asli protesters sang the national anthem as Kelantan forestry officials moved in yesterday to demolish their two-month-old blockade to protest logging at a forest reserve in Gua Musang.
Siti Kasim, an activist who has been advocating for Orang Asli rights, put up a video of a group of Temiars waving the Malaysian flag as they faced the authorities.
“First video acquired from our OAs on the destruction of their blockade. This is so moving.... The Temiars were singing Negaraku before their blockade smashed down by the Forestry personnel!!” Siti posted on Facebook.
Siti, who is also a lawyer, posted another video in the aftermath of the destruction of the blockade, featuring an Orang Asli man called Ani who claimed that the Kelantan State Forestry Department did not consult the indigenous community before destroying their blockade and huts used by protesters as their shelter.
“The community and the village are not happy with Forestry and they did not talk to us or tell us their purpose in coming here. But suddenly, they just cut everything down,” he said.
Siti posted pictures of the destruction of the blockade, showing flattened huts and pieces of bamboo left from the blockade that had been set up since September 26 by over 200 Orang Asli to prevent timber from being taken out of the Balah Forest Reserve.
She said 38 Orang Asli will be presented for remand hearing this morning at the Gua Musang magistrate’s court.
The Star newspaper reported Kelantan State Forestry Department deputy operations director Mohd Radhie Chu Abdullah as saying that 41 Orang Asli were detained yesterday for trespassing at a permanent forest reserve.
“This action is long overdue. We have been very patient with the activists and today, we removed the barricades without any incident,” he was quoted saying.
The newspaper reported that the Simpang Petir barricade was demolished. There are two other blockades at Pos Pasik and Pos Bihai.
National news agency Bernama cited Kelantan police chief Datuk Dr Ab Rahman Ismail saying yesterday that those detained were teenagers or students who might have been exploited by certain groups.