Image: Facebook @ Siti Kasim
On Monday, orang asli activists set up a blockade on a logging trail between Pos Tohoi and Pos Simpor in Kelantan to stop loggers from accessing land that local villagers claim is part of their ancestral land.
Activist and lawyer, Siti Kasim, was on site with a team from The Star, who were going to uncover the story of the blockade by the Temiar community.
When she had left, a group of thugs claiming to be policemen threatened the orang asli standing at the blockade and 'arrested' three acitivists – Mustafa Along, Manglo A/L Tegau, and Salim – and placed them in a truck presumably owned by the logging company.
All three were released later that day and the identities of the so-called police remain unclear. At some point during the altercation, one of the loggers took out a chainsaw and started to cut down the blockade while the orang asli held onto it. The chainsaw wielder then continued his rampage and cut down a nearby house. Once the blockade was cut, the loggers drove one of their lumber lorries through the path. The orang asli group was forced to retreat at this point. After that, witnesses claim that one of the loggers shot two warning rounds at them and picked up the shells before leaving. The blockade has since been replaced and the Temiar are continuing the blockade.
Siti Kasim has lodged a police report along with ex-journalist Sidek Kamiso against the wrongful arrest and is verifying the identities of the so-called police who were there at the altercation.
The case isn't so clear-cut however, as the loggers are operating legally on the land. They had been granted logging licenses by the Kelantan Forestry Department but the orang asli are contending that they had not been consulted by the authorities beforehand. According to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples – which Malaysia is a signatory of – the Forestry Department has to acquire the approval of the orang asli before issuing the license.
View the events in this video compilation by The Star: