MALAYSIA: Forestry Department Should Work With Orang Asal, Not Against Us

    20 MARCH 2017
    Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) strongly condemns the demolition of some Orang Asal houses in Kampung Bobotong, Tongod on 17 March 2017, by the Sabah Forestry Department (SFD).  SFD claims that the villagers have encroached into forest reserve land. The Dusun Kiulu community is now left homeless by the inhumane and brutal act.
    It is reliably learnt that the Sabah Forestry Department has since halted the demolition process and has given the villagers until 30 March 2017 to move out from the area before they proceed the demolition operations.
    “The Dusun Kiulu have been living in the area well before the area is gazetted as forest reserve land and they have planted fruit and palm oil trees in the area to earn a living,” explained Juhaidi Marindal, the Sabah chapter Vice President of JOAS.
    “The department ought to engage with the villagers to find a peaceful solution before taking such drastic actions,” added Marindal.
    Yusri Ahon, the President of JOAS added that he is alarmed by actions of the Forestry Department both in Sabah and in Peninsular Malaysia. The atrocities in Sabah took place not too long after the Kelantan Forestry Department had demolished the blockade built by the Temiar Orang Asli to protect the forest from logging activities.
    “Rather than vilifying us, the Orang Asal, we hope that the Forestry Department will engage with us meaningfully. The Orang Asal in Sabah, have successfully practiced conservation methods such as the Tagal system, which restores fish populations in rivers.  The Forestry Department should stop their aggressive methods immediately and start working with the Orang Asal to preserve our remaining forest.”
    JOAS Secretariat Director, Beverly Joeman, reiterated that Malaysia is a signatory to the UNDRIP which requires states to consult and cooperate in good faith with indigenous peoples through their own representative institutions in order to obtain their free prior and informed consent (FPIC) before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them. 
    Signed by JOAS Steering Committee

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