NGO condemns arrest of Temiar villagers after blockade removed

A blockage put up by the Orang Asli to keep loggers out at Kampung Sungai Papan in Gerik, Perak. (COAC Facebook pic.)

PETALING JAYA: An environmental group has condemned the arrests of three Temiar Orang Asli by the police who dismantled a blockade put up by the community to keep loggers out at Kampung Sungai Papan in Gerik, Perak, today.

Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (Peka) Malaysia said it regretted the continuous arrest of Orang Asli for defending their customary land rights.

Peka president Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said it was the state which encroached into customary Orang Asli land and not otherwise.

She called on the people to put pressure on the authorities to ensure that the Orang Asli’s legal rights were not taken away.

Earlier today, police arrested three Temiar villagers after taking down a blockade which the community had set up at Kampung Sungai Papan to keep loggers out.

In a Facebook posting, the Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) said the police arrested Johari Aleuj, Pam Yeek and Shukri Man and also seized five motorcycles and a camera.

“The police were not in uniform and led by one ‘Sgt Hashim’, who has had run-ins with the Orang Asli before,” the centre said.

It said the operation was carried out by the police, loggers and Forestry Department personnel, and came after the villagers rebuilt the blockade, which had been taken down yesterday.

On Saturday, another three Temiar Orang Asli were arrested when police and loggers brought down a blockade at the village.

They were released after Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P Waytha Moorthy issued a statement urging police not to side with the loggers.