SUARAM: Plantation firms allegedly still intimidating natives

Indigenous people representing the Isa Nangkai, Tuai Rumah Nyutan, Besi Jinggot and Canada Hill NCR disputes as well as native rights activists protest against the Federal Court’s decision in Putrajaya on Nov 7, 2017. — file photo

KUCHING, June 19: Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) says the alleged deployment of gangsters by plantation companies continued last year.

In its ‘Malaysia Human Rights Report 2017: Civil and Political Rights’ report, which was unveiled in Kuala Lumpur today, SUARAM said similar to 2016, it documented news reports on plantation companies allegedly using gangsters to threaten and harass indigenous communities and human rights Dayaks (HRDs) who protested against illegal encroachments into native customary rights (NCR) lands.

The report concluded that such alleged practices had caused animosity in the otherwise peaceful communities.

“Companies, in particular those from the palm oil sector, have continued to aggressively operate throughout the state, often against the wishes of IPs (Indigenous Peoples) and, therefore, violating the IPs of their internationally recognised right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) and the right to self-determination,” said the report.

The report also stated that IPs, HRDs and NCR lawyers had also voiced concerns over their freedom to access information, including lack of government transparency over the availability of the Terms of Reference (TOR) for the Pemakai Menua and Pulau Galau (PMPG) task force and Social and Environmental Impact Assessments (SEIAs) for development projects in Sarawak.

It opined that the lack of information had “consequently hindered their participation in more meaningful consultation on state land policies throughout the reporting period.”

“On top of that, the state continued to interfere in IPs’ right to self-governance through the government selection and appointment of indigenous community leaders, who do not necessarily represent the interests of the communities.” — DayakDaily