Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) is gravely concerned with the on-going crackdown on blockades by Orang Asli community activists at Gerik and other locations across Malaysia and calls for the Inspector General of Police to answer for the conduct of the Royal Malaysian Police in supporting and assisting in the demolition of said blockades and arrest of Orang Asli community activists.
The blockades built by Orang Asli communities are a response to the encroachment of their ancestral land and it is an act to defend their livelihood and the survival of their community. The federal government had previously committed to protecting the rights of Orang Asli and initiated proceedings against the Kelantan state government on the matter.
However, the Pakatan Harapan administration must put an end to the inconsistency and hypocrisy in protecting the rights of Orang Asli. The administration cannot, on the one hand, commit to protecting Orang Asli rights and on the other have the Royal Malaysian Police running contrary to the policy and supporting loggers and plantation owners in dismantling barricades and arresting community activists.
The Pakatan Harapan administration must reign in the Royal Malaysian Police and issue a clear directive to the Royal Malaysian Police in the handling of matters relating to Orang Asli blockade. Similarly, Pakatan Harapan’s state governments must also reflect its commitment at the federal level and suspend all activities and licenses that would encroach on Orang Asli ancestral lands.
The Inspector-General of Police cannot ignore the policy direction by the administration and must ensure that the Royal Malaysian Police comply with the policy direction of the administration with regards to the protection and promotion of Orang Asli rights. Furthermore, the Inspector General of Police must answer for why no actions have been taken against the logging companies who were encroaching on Orang Asli lands.
If Pakatan Harapan administration through the Ministry of Home Affairs is unwilling to act, Pakatan Harapan members of Parliament, especially those sitting in the Parliament Standing Committee on Rights and Gender Equality must summon the Minister of Home Affairs and the Inspector General of Police to answer for the ongoing violation of Orang Asli rights.
Orang Asli’s rights have been trampled enough under the Barisan Nasional administration. Pakatan Harapan could not claim that the violation occurred during Barisan Nasional’s era if they failed to implement any policy to put an end to the encroachment of ancestral lands.
To This end, SUARAM calls for the immediate release of Orang Asli activists who were arrested and remanded by the Royal Malaysian Police and for the Pakatan Harapan administration to fulfil their commitment and ensure that Orang Asli rights are not mere talk, but a policy that is implemented at all levels.