Restore The Rights Of The Indigenous People Of Sarawak
Prime Minister Of Malaysia
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(cc: The Chief Minister Of Sarawak, Pehin Sri Dr. Haji Abdul Taib bin Mahmud)
We are gravely concerned and disturbed by the legal genocide of the indigenous groups commonly known as the Dayaks which has been taking place for almost the past three decades in Sarawak, the largest state in Malaysia.
This is taking the form of a massive native land grab through a legal and systematic means of forcing them to give up their ancestral lands or lands over which they have native customary rights that are recognized by the countrys highest courts and the Sarawak Land Code and giving away of such lands to companies closely connected with State Government leaders, the political elites and cronies.
By losing their NCR lands, they lose their farms, the forests where they collect timber for housing, where they go out for hunting and for fishing. And they continue to suffer on account of the insatiable greed of the politicians in power who clearly show scant regard for human rights as food crops and homes are often bulldozed and the natives left landless and homeless.
Even the law-enforcement agencies, particularly the Police, are colluding with the plantation companies and failing or refusing to act when the affected indigenous farmers lodge official complaints against encroachment of their NCR land and the destruction to their crops and properties.
This system of legal genocide continues unabated in the face of a deliberate collusion between State Government leaders and large commercial interests and is leading to an extremely dangerous situation as the authorities even resort deploy the Police and even Army to make arrests when the natives put up a stand to defend their ancestral farming lands.
We are therefore extremely concerned at the land grab that is going on in Sarawak as this would lead to serious consequences and implications for the future well-being and livelihood of the indigenous groups of Sarawak, especially the non Muslim Dayaks people.
We strongly support the indigenous peoples struggle to protect their land for their survival. We demand that the:
1. The Federal Government of Malaysia shall undertake to revise inconsistent laws in order to abide by Article 5 of the Federal Constitution of Malaysia which enshrines the guarantee of right to life for every inhabitant of its land
2. State Government of Sarawak to uphold the Native Customary Rights (NCR) as guaranteed under the Sarawak Land Code (1958) and to recognize the NCR status of all affected parties who can prove the existence of their claim to these rights
3. State Government of Sarawak shall respect and abide by the case precedent established by the Federal Court of Malaysias decision of Madeli Salleh vs Government of Sarawak, which states very clearly that the customary rights of inhabitants were recognized and accepted by the British Crown when it governed Sarawak. It became part of common law and therefore shall be recognized as being a fundamental right.
4. State Government of Sarawak shall cease the issuance of provisional leases (PL) for NCR disputed land with immediate effect
5. The Federal Government of Malaysia shall recognize the relevance of all convenants and instruments on human rights and make haste to ratify and to conform to all these said Charters.
6. State Government of Sarawak shall undertake to provide protection for the safety of the
indigenous people to stop them from all forms of harassment, intimidation and threats of physical and bodily harm that arises from land disputes
7. In instances before NCR land is requested for commercial development via partnerships with
government agencies and/or private sector initiatives, it shall be an imperative condition that free,fair,prior and informed consent be obtained from the affected communities in accordance to the principles of transparency, the principles of right of access to information and the principle of the inherent to know by all parties involved.
If the State Government of Sarawak fails to comply with the above demands, then the Federal Government of Malaysia must come forward to take appropriate steps to protect NCR lands, the lives and livelihoods of the indigenous people.