Orang Asli communities have been facing harassment, intimidation, arrest, violence and even death threat for protecting their ancestral land from encroachment, a report by Amnesty International Malaysia revealed today.
The findings were highlighted in its “The Forest Is Our Heartbeat: The struggle to defend Indigenous land in Malaysia” report, which documented the problems faced by the community based on interviews with them, local activists, non-governmental organisations, lawyers, academics and journalists.
Its researcher, Rachel Chhoa-Howard, said the situation will only get more serious if there’s no effort being made to resolve the matter.
“From the research carried out in July and Aug 2017, and in Jan, Aug and Sept this year, we found that not only were they harassed or abused by people who want to take their land for development purposes, but some even received death threats by hired gangsters.
“It is worrying to see these people being violated for protecting their own land from being encroached. Until today, there’s still no solid solution or action taken by the state governments involved to address the matter.
“These indigenous land defenders are denied justice and access to defend what’s theirs,” she said.