PRESS STATEMENT – SUARAM Condemns Crackdown in Murum : Protesters, Including Children, Arrested and Detained
SUARAM condemns ongoing harassment of Penan communities in Murum and Baram. Yesterday (7 November 2013), saw another action from the Royal Malaysian Police which clearly shows the failed role of the police force. Eight Penan who have been blockading against the Murum damsince August were arrested yesterday and brought to the Belaga Police Station.
Today once again we received information from a reliable source that another two Penan from Murum were arrested this afternoon at the Belaga police station. The two were present at the police station to check the situation and conditions of those arrested yesterday. SUARAM strongly condemns the police on arbitrary arrest and detention of Penan communities in Murum. The ten have been remanded for 3 days.
Those arrested are on 7 November 2013
1. Ngang Buling (Male)
2. Lau Siang (Male)
3. Hawa Juman (Male)
4. Ramlie Bujang (Male)
5. Balan Beran (Male)
6. Tom Avit (19 years old- Male)
7. Anthony Juman (Male)
8. Tingang Lingok (13 years old – Male)
Those arrested on 8 November 2013:
1. Philip Bujang (16 years old – Male)
2. Merit Gadong (21 years old – Male)
This again shows a lack of understanding and knowledge by the police force about the peoples’ issues. The Penan communities fear that the impoundment will lead to flooding of their homes which would affect some 1500 indigenous people. We urge the Royal Malaysian Police to safeguard law and justice and to protect the interests of the Penan people instead of taking the side of the exploiters.
SUARAM is very concerned on the condition of two minors that been detained under the police custody. Malaysia has adequate laws in the Child Act 2001 that provides proper procedures of handing arrests and detention of children. Malaysia has ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and is obligated to protect and uphold the rights of the child. However, these incidences indicate a blatant violation of child’s rights.
Where does the police stand?
In a similar case, police brutally arrested some 19 people including Members of Parliament during a standoff at Kampung Hakka’s forced eviction on 31st October 2013 in Mantin.
SUARAM calls upon the IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar to intervene and tell his men not to interfere in the Penan people’s struggle for their rights. The police force should play a neutral role and initiate meetings between the people and the company involved, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB). We call on the police to immediately release all those arrested in the last two days for merely attending peaceful protests, and stop these attacks on freedom of expression and assembly
Signatory of UNDRIP
Our check with the Belaga District Police Station revealed that no Investigation Officer (IO) has been assigned yet, and was informed that the District Officer is in the police station at the moment.
Malaysia is signatory to international conventions and declarations such as the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), but has still not ratified ILO Convention 169, a legally binding international instrument that deals specifically with the rights of indigenous and tribal peoples.
SUARAM urges the Malaysian government to end all intimidation and harassment against indigenous people. We urge the police to release all the ten immediately and unconditionally.
Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)