Campaign Corner: A selection of press releases and short stories highlighting the various campaigns going on in Malaysia.

Orang Asal want apology

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Over 400 participants of the national land conference worked on the indigenous peoples resolution in Dewan Tun Fuad, Penampang, Sabah.

Organized by the Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), the 2-day conference held on 6-7 November 2013, saw participants from indigenous peoples, also known as Orang Asal, from across Malaysia, as well as representatives from government, corporations, students and academics.

The 43-point resolution aimed at addressing current violation of indigenous peoples land rights, which have of late been aggravated by amendments to laws and actions by the government.

“We want the government to apologize for all the wrongdoings to the Orang Asal,” echoed many of the participants.

Discussions during the conference were themed around the 18 recommendations from the SUHAKAM report; specifically the establishment of an independent National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, recognition of indigenous customary rights to land, addressing land development imbalances, finding remedies for loss of land, preventing future land loss and addressing land administration issues.

One of the key points of the resolution includes getting the government to publicise and implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in all dealings, programmes and policies involving indigenous peoples and their lands.

UNDRIP, which Malaysia endorsed, requires the process of Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) in all dealings with the Orang Asal. The call for FPIC was unanimous, especially in light of on-going mega dam projects in which received neither FPIC nor support from the Orang Asal.

“Protests at Murum and blockades in Baram in Sarawak, blockades in Ulu Paper in protest of the Kaiduan dam here in Sabah are by no means coincidences. People have seen the disaster of the Bakun dam, not just to the livelihood of the people who are now worse off than they were before, but also the destruction to the environment, they don’t want to see the same mistake repeated,” Mary Giun, JOAS Secretary General explained.

“The government has wronged indigenous peoples by marginalising us, overturning our democratic selection of our traditional leaders, labeling us as poor and now in the name of development and poverty eradication, our lands and resources were taken from us” Jannie Lasimbang, JOAS Secretariat director and member of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples explained on why Orang Asal are demanding an apology from the government.

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