Last updated Saturday, December 10, 2016 7:04 am GMT+8

Friday December 2, 2016
04:51 PM GMT+8

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DECEMBER 2 — BERSIH 2.0 strongly condemns the arrests and continued harassment and intimidation of Orang Asli activists for constructing blockades at Gua Musang to defend their ancestral land from further destruction and pillage.

The Kelantan Forestry Department, in collusion with unscrupulous logging companies, have seriously overstepped their powers by taking action against the Orang Asli activists. The arrests, harassment, and intimidation are punitive actions taken against the activists for protecting land that rightfully belongs to them

The Orang Asli should not and must not be punished for exercising their right to dissent by expressing their anger and rejection against rampant logging that is threatening their fundamental right to life.

The Orang Asli’s way of life is closely linked to their customary land and deforestation is a direct attack on their existence. Their livelihood is already adversely affected – their water supplies are contaminated and wild animals are being driven into their villages as a result of rampant logging. Their home, traditions, and cultural identity are under serious threat of being wiped out.

With greed taking over humanity, the authorities are intent on the wholesale destruction of the forests and the Orang Asli with them, displaying shocking disrespect and arrogance in the matter.

Not only were the blockades at Pos Petei and Pos Bihai destroyed, but the huts built by the activists were also torn down, a completely unnecessary and malicious move to no doubt intimidate the Orang Asli activists. Forty seven Temiar activists were arrested on 29 November. Seven more were arrested at Pos Pasik yesterday.

BERSIH 2.0 would like to remind the Kelantan government that they have an obligation to respect and protect the rights of the Orang Asli. The arrests and destruction of the blockades are a completely unjustifiable move to drive citizens out of their homes. The state government must take responsibility for pulling this outrageous stunt and immediately cease all logging activities impacting the lives of the Orang Asli.

BERSIH 2.0 also demands the authorities stop harassing the Orang Asli activists and respect their right to dissent. We call upon civil society and all Malaysians to stand in solidarity with the Orang Asli and their fight to keep their customary lands. Our country’s diversity is something to be celebrated and not stamped out.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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