Seven arrests in Sarawak (Malaysia) over logging dispute

Oct 22, 2010

BMF (Bruno Manser Fund) has just received the news that the Malaysian police have arrested Nicholas Mujah, the Secretary General of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) and six Iban villagers, including the headman of Kampung Bajong in Sebuyau, Sarawak.

BMF (Bruno Manser Fund) has just received the news that the Malaysian police have arrested Nicholas Mujah, the Secretary General of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) and six Iban villagers, including the headman of Kampung Bajong in Sebuyau, Sarawak. Nicholas Mujah was assisting the native Iban community in Sebuyau in a native customary land dispute involving a company named Quality Concrete Holdings. Quality Concrete Holdings, have been in the centre of dispute after the Forest Department has given it a licence to carry out logging activities in 3,305 hectares of forests which  Ibans from six longhouses claim to be their Native Customary Rights (NCR) land. Quality Concrete Holdings are linked to the family of Sarawak's extremely corrupt Chief Minister, Abdul Taib Mahmud. Taib's sister Roziah is a director and an important shareholder of Quality Concrete Holdings.

Mark Bujang, director of the Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (BRIMAS) in Miri writes:

"When negotiations failed the Ibans have brought their case with the Police, the district and resident offices, the lands and surveys and the Forest department.

When all these failed, the natives since last Friday, 15th October have erected a blockade to stop the workers from the Royal Billion company encroaching into their native customary rights land.

They have also stopped a "tongkang" or barge from loading timber that has been extracted from the disputed area."

"Last Monday, 18th October a fire destroyed a block of two storey quarters occupied by timber workers, a store, six tractors, two logging trucks, a pick up and an excavator belonging to Royal Billion Sdn Bhd, a logging contractor contracted by Quality Concrete to extract timber in the area."

"Nicholas Mujah and 6 other villagers are currently being detained by the police at Simunjan Police Station. Last night 4 villagers were arrested which include a headman. They are Tuai Rumah Neli of Kpg. Bajong, Tinsi ak Bunda and 2 others. They are apparently being charged on allegation of mischief by fire.

A total of about 200 villagers gathered outside the police station in support of Nicholas Mujah and 6 other villagers that were arrested.

Lawyer, See Chee How is also at the police station."

The Bruno Manser Fund protests against this blatant case of non-respect of native rights by the local authorities and urges the Malaysian auithorities to release all arrested persons immediately and to stop all logging activities on the affected communities' lands.

Your BMF team