Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Stop harrassing Orang Asli, says Malaysian Bar

Press Release
Stop police harassment of Orang Asli
The Malaysian Bar notes with concern the incidents of harassment and intimidation of Orang Asli in Negeri Sembilan, by the police and Jabatan Hal Ehwal Orang Asli (JHEOA), over the past week.

Two days prior to a “customary meeting” (perjumpaan adat) for various villages that was scheduled to be held in Kampung Sebir, Seremban on 30 September 2010, a police officer from Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah Seremban 2 questioned the Tok Batin of Kampung Sebir regarding the purpose of the meeting, and the number and identity of the attendees. The officer stated that the Tok Batin was required to provide written notification of the meeting to the police. On 30 September itself, JHEOA officials who went to the village on another matter also raised questions regarding the meeting. Two police officers subsequently arrived during the meeting and stated that advance notification of such meetings must be made to the police in order to obtain approval.

The Malaysian Bar is troubled that the authorities see fit to interfere with the basic rights of this Orang Asli community to assemble and discuss issues of concern to them. This constitutes bullying and intimidation of these Orang Asli, and must stop.

We also note that the Government proposes to expedite the passage of amendments to the Aboriginal Peoples Act 1954 through Parliament. However, despite several requests, the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development has not disclosed the contents of the proposed amendments, and the Orang Asli are therefore in the dark as to their precise nature.

The public disclosure thus far indicates that the proposed amendments will be substantial, and will have serious repercussions upon the culture and life of the Orang Asli, and their rights to their ancestral lands. As such, the Government must ensure that the proposed reform is thoroughly discussed and seriously considered beforehand, taking into account the views of the Orang Asli who will be affected.

The Malaysian Bar calls on the Government to immediately make public the proposed amendments and to allow for a comprehensive and frank discussion with all the relevant stakeholders before the proposals are tabled in Parliament. We also urge the authorities to uphold the rights of all persons, including the Orang Asli, to meet to discuss matters of interest and concern.

We further call on the Government to fulfil its obligation to accord full respect to the rights of the Orang Asli, and not to act in any manner inconsistent with those rights.

Ragunath Kesavan
Malaysian Bar
4 October 2010

1 comment:

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