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URGENT ACTION : END HARASSMENT OF INDIGENOUS RIGHTS DEFENDERS

Five indigenous (Orang Asli) human rights defenders and two journalists were arbitrarily detained by the Department of Forestry on 23 January following peaceful protests against logging licences granted by local authorities. They have all been released, but fears of a continuing crackdown remain.

On 23 January, five human rights defenders from the Temiar (Orang Asli) tribe in the northern Malaysian state of Kelantan were arbitrarily detained at a blockade they had erected to protect their ancestral lands and natural resources, which they claim is under threat by logging licences granted by the Kelantan State Government. The following day, on 24 January, 16 more Orang Asli human rights activists, and two journalists, were detained.

The human rights defenders were detained by officials from the Department of Forestry. Under Malaysian law, officials from the Department of Forestry have the power to arrest, however there is reason to believe that both their arrest and detention was an abuse of power, as it targeted the human rights activists for carrying out their work. The Orang Asli have been peacefully demonstrating against the decision of the Kelantan State Government to grant logging licences. Local authorities have stated that the land was not demarcated as a reserve specifically for the Indigenous group. The two journalists, a TV reporter and a cameraman, were producing a documentary on deforestation in Kelantan, in the northeast of Malaysia.

The Orang Asli are an Indigenous group of Peninsular Malaysia who the authorities have previously harassed and intimidated. Most recently, in November 2016, 47 Orang Asli were detained for two days after peacefully protesting the government’s claim over their ancestral lands. The Orang Asli are concerned that the crackdown will continue due to their work in defending their spiritual relation with the land, which they feel is threatened by the licences granted by the authorities.

Please write immediately in English, Bahasa Malaysia or your own language:

  • Urging the Malaysian authorities to ensure that detentions are only carried out by people legally authorized to do so, in accordance with Malaysian law and the Principles for the protection of all persons under any form of detention or imprisonment;
  • Calling on them to immediately put an end to the harassment and intimidation of the Orang Asli, Indigenous human rights defenders, journalists and others covering the protests;
  • Calling on them to respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly of Indigenous human rights defenders, and ensure that no one is detained solely for their peaceful human rights work.

 

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 8 MARCH 2017 TO:

 

Kelantan Forestry Department

Blok 5 Tingkat 1

Kompleks Kota Darulnaim

15503 Kota Bharu Kelantan, Malaysia

Fax: +609 744 5675

Email: forestry@kelantan.gov.my

 

Kelantan State Government

Jabatan Perhutanan Negeri Kelantan

The Office of the Kelantan State Secretary

Blok 2, Level 2, Kota Darul Naim

15503 Kota Bharu Kelantan, Malaysia

Fax: +609 748 5512

Email: portal@kelantan.gov.my

 

And copies to:

 

Chairperson, Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, Tan Sri Razali bin Ismail

11th Floor, Menara TH Perdana,

Jalan Sultan Ismail

50250, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Fax: +603 2612 5260

Email: humanrights@suhakam.org.my

 

 

SAMPLE LETTER

 

(Target)

(Target address)

 

Salutation,

 

The following information has been brought to my attention.

Amnesty International Malaysia notes with concern that five indigenous (Orang Asli) human rights defenders and two journalists were arbitrarily detained by the Department of Forestry on 23 January following peaceful protests against logging licences granted by local authorities. They have all been released, but fears of a continuing crackdown remain.

On 23 January, five human rights defenders from the Temiar (Orang Asli) tribe in the northern Malaysian state of Kelantan were arbitrarily detained at a blockade they had erected to protect their ancestral lands and natural resources, which they claim is under threat by logging licences granted by the Kelantan State Government. The following day, on 24 January, 16 more Orang Asli human rights activists, and two journalists, were detained.

The human rights defenders were detained by officials from the Department of Forestry. Under Malaysian law, officials from the Department of Forestry have the power to arrest, however there is reason to believe that both their arrest and detention was an abuse of power, as it targeted the human rights activists for carrying out their work. The Orang Asli have been peacefully demonstrating against the decision of the Kelantan State Government to grant logging licences. Local authorities have stated that the land was not demarcated as a reserve specifically for the Indigenous group. The two journalists, a TV reporter and a cameraman, were producing a documentary on deforestation in Kelantan, in the northeast of Malaysia.

The Orang Asli are an Indigenous group of Peninsular Malaysia who the authorities have previously harassed and intimidated. Most recently, in November 2016, 47 Orang Asli were detained for two days after peacefully protesting the government’s claim over their ancestral lands. The Orang Asli are concerned that the crackdown will continue due to their work in defending their spiritual relation with the land, which they feel is threatened by the licences granted by the authorities.

 

(Saluatation), we call on the Malaysian authorities to:

  • ensure that detentions are only carried out by people legally authorized to do so, in accordance with Malaysian law and the Principles for the protection of all persons under any form of detention or imprisonment
  • immediately put an end to the harassment and intimidation of the Orang Asli, Indigenous human rights defenders, journalists and others covering the protests
  • to respect the right to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly of Indigenous human rights defenders, and ensure that no one is detained solely for their peaceful human rights work.

 

 

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

 

___________________________

(Name)

 

Director's Message

Greetings, Human Rights Champions!

Firstly, I would like to wish each one of you a belated Happy 2017 and Gong Xi Fa Cai on behalf of the AI Malaysia crew. I hope you have had an amazing start to 2017! Thank you, also, for the continuous support you have given us throughout 2016.

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