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Malaysia: Temiar Blockade and Indigenous Rights

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

Eight Temiar indigenous people (also known as Orang Asli) in Malaysia were arrested by the police for attempting to set up a blockade and prevent loggers from entering their village in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

The villagers are against the agricultural project of the local government which would require the cutting down of forest trees in their ancestral land. The blockade, their second attempt at doing so, was made after attempts to negotiate with the state government have failed.

The police also refused to negotiate who removed the barricades and arrested the community residents and their lawyer, Siti Kasim. They were released later that night.

The Temiar community is setting up a blockade to prevent loggers from entering. Photo by SITI KASIM, published on Center for Orang Asli Concerns

The Temiar community is setting up a blockade to prevent loggers from entering. Photo by SITI KASIM, published on Center for Orang Asli Concerns

Lawyer Edmund Bon lists the violations made by the police during the arrest:

@edmundbon: #TemiarBlockade Arrest of @sitikasim is to prevent lawyers fr rep OA arrested fr legal rights under s28A. She is kept apart fr them too

@edmundbon: Noting Police Act has been repealed and #PAA2011 is waiting assent, under what law is police using ? #TemiarBlockade

@edmundbon: #TemiarBlockade With repeal of Police Act note that it is not an offence per se just to gather without actually holding the rally.

@edmundbon: #TemiarBlockade @alisonghani Note: s113 has been abolished.@PDRMsia has no right to take statements fr suspects under that or s112. Release

Others have chimed in on the lack of comments from politicians from ruling party Barisan Nasional (National Front) or the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat (People's Alliance) which controls many state governments, including Kelantan:

@MamuNakHabaq: While we are watching football, some Orang Asli are being treated like shit. Woi! Watdehek is going on la????? #TemiarBlockade

@shakirameer: sometimes with situations involving #kuin5 and #TemiarBlockade I wonder if our votes would make any difference… #frustrating

@edmundbon: #TemiarBlockade Ask yourself if our system of representative democracy is working? How many OA MPs are in Parliament? How many are ADUNs?

@lilunumlock: wakil2 rakyat diam saja? Mana ni geng @NajibRazak @anwaribrahim. kata memperjuangkan Hak rakyat? Rakyat diutamakan? #TemiarBlockade

@lilunumlock:The people's representatives are just going to remain quiet? Where's @NajibRazak and @anwaribrahim's gang? Didn't they say they fight for citizen's rights? citizens as priority?

Independent journalist Anil Netto thinks this will not reflect well on Pakatan Rakyat in terms of pushing for more progressive policies:

I would have thought Pakatan state administrations would show a more enlightened, progressive approach to native land rights. Remember how the Pakatan state government in Selangor was lauded – and rightly so – for supporting the Orang Asli in their struggle there.

So what’s happening in Kelantan then, Nik Aziz? This coming so soon after Kedah MB Azizan’s disturbing support for the use of the UUCA on five college students. Not very encouraging.

The hashtag #TemiarBlockade has also triggered discussion about the treatment towards the indigenous people and the lack of awareness on their native land rights

@edmundbon: #TemiarBlockade is an eg of nonsense being spouted about more freedoms and demo space via #PA2011

@fifarahman: Reading tweets on the #temiarblockade – horrible tt Orang Asli protesting logging have been treated so badly.

@vangeyzel: Hopefully what happened at the #TemiarBlockade is publicized. Awareness matters. O/wise next week all forgotten.

@Ambiga_S: Enuff bullying of the OA. Well done Siti Kassim HR lawyer who stood with the OA in claiming what is rightfully theirs. #TemiarBlockade

@ladymissazira: When you remove Orang Asli from their ancestral lands, you eradicate an entire culture, belief system & wisdom. #temiarblockade

@VersedAnggerik: OAs are not myth of the past, ruins of the jungle. They are ppl who has got rights wants their rights to be respected #temiarblockade

@MalaysiaforAll: Until const is revisted&re-applied, whatever law enacted will always side the majority leaving the minority 2fend themselves

This post is part of our special coverage Indigenous Rights.

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