|Posted by Kenyah Lepo Tau, Sarawak (Borneo) on December 11, 2013 at 3:45 AM|
Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak and Sabah commemorate Human Rights Day with demand to State Government to respect their rights
December 10, 2013 at 3:07pm
MIRI – Today is Human Rights Day and it is on this date that in 1950 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaiming its principles as the “common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”.
In the last Universal Periodic Review (UPR) conducted by the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland last October on which Malaysia was under review, the Malaysian Government in its opening speech declared its commitment to the protection and promotion of Human Rights in the country.
Today, the Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak and Sabah will also commemorate Human Rights Day with public rallies not only across the major towns and cities in Sarawak and Sabah but also in the villages and longhouses in the interior areas of the two States.
Gerakan Rakyat Sarawak - Sabah (GRASS) or the Peoples Movement of Sarawak - Sabah had been requested by the communities to facilitate the organising and coordination of the rallies.
With the participation of the Indigenous Peoples of Sabah, the movement name has changed from Gerakan Rakyat Seluruh Sarawak (Peoples Movement of Sarawak) to its present name.
The aim of these rallies is to demonstrate and to send a clear warning to the authorities in the two States that the Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak and Sabah are not happy and will no longer just stand by or tolerate but will fight with all our might the blatant violations of their native customary rights (NCR) to their customary lands, territories and resources by the State Governments and their cronies, the big companies.
Throughout the years, the customary lands of the Indigenous Peoples have been unjustly grabbed and their resources thereon destroyed deceptively in the name of development and poverty eradication through destructive projects and activities such as loggings, oil palm and tree plantations, mega-dams, quarrying and the establishment of large polluting industries like aluminium smelter plant and coal fire power plants. The NCR of the Indigenous Peoples over their customary lands have also been arbitrarily extinguished and gazetted as National Parks and Nature Reserves. The NCR Perimeter Surveys undertaken by the Sarawak Government had also further subverted and deprived the Indigenous Peoples of more of their customary land as the said survey had been deliberately confined or restricted only to pockets of areas cleared before 1st January, 1958.
The Indigenous Peoples of Sabah and Sarawak have sought redress through the judicial process and had successfully obtained landmark decisions through the Courts in which the Courts have found and held that NCR land is not only restricted to the Iban terms of Temuda (cleared cultivated land) but also extends to the pulau galau (reserved forest areas) and pemakai menoa (communal territory) which is consistent with the natives’ customs or adat. Currently there are more than 300 NCR cases pending in the Courts.
However, the Sarawak State Government continues to ignore these landmark Courts decisions by continuing to arbitrarily grant logging licences, licences for planted forests and provisional leases for oil palm plantations over the NCR lands within the antara menoa or pemakai menoa of the Indigenous Peoples. The recent statement by the Sarawak Special Functions Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Adenan Satem in the just concluded Sarawak State Legislative Assembly Sitting that NCR is only confined to Temuda shows the Sarawak State Government’s continued contempt and blatant disrespect of the decisions of the Courts on the NCR of the Indigenous Peoples.
The Sarawak State Government is also deliberately and systematically trying to kill or hide the fact that the term pulau and menoa does not exist in the Adat Iban. This can be clearly seen in its action in deliberately omitting to include the said adat or custom in the Adat Iban 1993.
It is most tragic that the existing injustices already inflicted on the Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak will only worsen because the Sarawak State Government through the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) project has planned to develop 70,900 hectares of land from the coast of Tanjung Manis to Similajau and towards the interior which includes Mukah, Sarikei, Sibu, Bintulu, Miri, Limbang and Kapit Divisions for the purpose of loggings, plantation estates, aqua-culture, heavy industries and eleven (11) additional mega dams in addition to the existing Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum Dams will be built. The inevitable consequences will be that many more Indigenous Peoples in these areas will be deprived of their customary lands and resources and will suffer environmental devastations.
On this historic day, the Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak and Sabah therefore demand from their respective State Governments to:-
The Indigenous Peoples urge the authorities to respect their Human Rights and the police must stop the arbritary arrest of their community.
Please contact the regional contact persons for more information.
Kuching – Rapelson Hamit (0128808161), Peter John Jaban (0143914860)
Sibu – Nicholas Mujah (0168946976) and Sumen bin Gasan (0148875466)
Bintulu – Abun Sui (0198851405)
Miri – Mark Bujang (0148776685), Peter Kallang (0138331104) and Harrison Ngau (0135640236)
Kota Kinabalu – Galus Ahtoi (0198419781)
- END -
Press Statement issued by:
Press Liason for GRASS
A few snap shots from the rallies around the Baram rivers in Sarawak.
In front of the home of Penghulu (Chief) Ajang, Long Liam village, Baram, Sarawa (10 Dec.2013)
At the Penghulu (Head) of the village of Long San, Baram, Sarawak. (10 Dec.2013)
Long Silat, Baram, Sarawak (10 Dec.2013).
Long Mekaba, Baram, Sarawak. The people tried to have a peaceful meeting with the Head of the village. Unfortunately, he was not around. (10 Dec.2013).