Malaysia: Stop the intimidation of indigenous people

About 30 police officers went to stop the ongoing blockade by 300 Penans on the road to the Murum Dam construction site. The Penan communities are in the midst of negotiation with the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) but the SEB has reneged on these negotiations by impounding the dam. The Penans have no alternative but to set up a blockade in a show of protest.

The police went on to arrest a Penan leader, Ngang Buling, and even fired a shot into the air as a warning to the Penan people. This clearly 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 about 1,500 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 calls on the IGP Khalid Abu Bakar to intervene and tell his men not to interfere in the Penan people’s struggle for their rights.

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 the intimidation and harassment against indigenous people. We urge the government to ratify the ILO convention 169.