MIRI, Nov 2: Eleven villagers from Ulu Kelawit, Tatau, arrested for their involvement in a blockade over native customary rights land issues, have been released after five days in the police lockup.
Save Sarawak Rivers chairman Peter Kallang said the villagers, ten men and a woman, will make an official complaint on the manner of their arrest despite being freed from incarceration.
“They were released by the High Court in Sibu under court bail of RM500 with two sureties for each of the 11.
“Before their release, they were charged on Oct 30 by the magistrate court in Mukah, under section 341 of the Malaysian Penal Code for wrongful restraint of a person.
“However, they refuted the basis of their charges. They claimed that they never ‘restrained’ anyone but merely upholding their rights to protect their own property which was being invaded,” he explained.
In his statement, Kallang said Lulong Bujah, the only woman in the group, claimed that she recognised the police officer who handcuffed her.
“We did not resist nor were we abusive when being arrested. While I was being handcuffed, I asked the police officers why we were arrested, as we did not commit any crime but merely safeguarding our properties from intruders.
“That was when he hit the back of my head and pushed my head down,” Kallang quoted Lulong as saying in the statement.
Lulong claimed that the police party employed for the operation came with around ten four-wheel-drive vehicles. There were more than 20 police offices in uniform and seven of them were wearing facemasks.
“She said the police did not tell them why they made the arrest nor did the police say anything else to them before they were being handcuffed,” Kallang continued.
The raid was carried out on Oct 25, while most of the blockaders were away in Mukah and waiting for the release of their fellow protestors who were arrested at the blockade a day earlier.
“Those villagers manning the blockade site on that day were the ones who were arrested. Their tents and properties were also burnt by the police,” Kallang alleged.
He added that the lawyer for the villagers, Simon Sia, who was with them at the release, had said that the case was scheduled for hearing in Mukah on Nov 6. — DayakDaily