SUARAM calls on Gua Musang police to release immediately three residents of an orang asli village in Lojing, Kelantan, who were arrested for their attempt to stop encroachment on their customary land.
The three villagers, Itam Anjang, Rahman Uda and Anis Akai, are being remanded until Wednesday and are being probed under Section 148 of the Penal Code, which deals with possession of weapons during a riot.
The trio lodged police report after they were attacked by about 100 foreign men near the village of Kuala Tahu, which is about 16 kilometres from Lojing on 26 February 2014. The attack is believed to be in retaliation for the Temiar orang asli’s attempt to stop encroachment on their customary land for logging and plantation.
The indigenous villagers subsequently lodged a disciplinary report (Bahagian Tatatertib) to the police headquarters in Bukit Aman following the inaction on the part of Gua Musang police to arrest the foreign men that attacked the villagers and allegation of a bribe of RM500 offered to the police by the employer of the foreign workers to settle the case.
Suaram condemns the arrest of the three villagers instead of the foreign men. Clearly, the action of the police to arrest and threaten the orang asli villagers with charges is a retaliation and punishment against their disciplinary complaint against the police officers involved.
SUARAM urges the Inspector General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to resolve this problem immediately. He should order investigations into the report lodged by the Orang Asli of Lojing and take immediate action against the attackers and also the police officers for their inaction. Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar must order the Gua Musang district police to release the trio immediately without any charge against them.
The police force should enforce the law professionally and impartially in handling conflicts in development projects and not working hand in hand with the employers. The fear mongering tactic on the indigenous community must be stopped immediately.