Malaysia: the Murut struggle against palm oil, for land and life — Sophie Chao

Source: The Ecologist

Supported by state and national governments, palm oil plantations are advancing over the rainforest hills of Sabah, Malaysia, writes Sophie Chao. In their way: the indigenous Murut of Bigor, whose culture, livelihood and very lives are under threat as forests and farms fall to chainsaws and bulldozers, enriching loggers and distant investors beyond the dreams of avarice.

We must continue to fight, for our children need to eat, and our grandchildren need to know what is a forest, and what is the way of life of the Murut people who came before them, and who will come after them.

Bigor longhouse with land cleared for oil palm in the background. Photo: Sophie Chao.

Bigor longhouse with land cleared for oil palm in the background. Photo: Sophie Chao.

In the remote village of Bigor, about 250 kilometers southwest of Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Malaysian state of Sabah, local community members gather in the longhouse (rumah panjang in Malay language), the traditional dwelling of the indigenous Murut people.

Slumped in his wheelchair, a makeshift sling supporting his right arm, the dying light of dusk casting shadows over his diminished frame, Statly Bin Ampihang (see photo), a 48 year old indigenous Murut Tagol man and head of Bigor village, tells the story of a tsunami.

“The oil palm company arrived, and made us sign contracts that we did not understand. They told us they would help us – make our lives better, give us jobs, increase our welfare. The government told us that the laws would help us secure our customary lands and forests.”

“Instead we were hit by a tsunami. But this tsunami was not a natural disaster. It was caused by our government. And now our lands are oil palm plantations. We have nowhere to hunt anymore. We have nowhere to plant our crops. Our economy has been destroyed. We are disappointed, for we have been deceived by our government.” Read more

Ibarat pikul batu berat di kepala, kata Orang Asli

Sumber: FMT News

Gambar seorang gadis OA di sumber air, dipetik dari FMT News.

Gambar seorang gadis OA di sumber air, dipetik dari FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Ibarat pikul batu berat di kepala, begitu kata Setiausaha Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Kelantan (JKOAK) Jamali Ayu ketika ditanya mengenai nasib masyarakatnya hari ini.
Bukan sahaja isu tanah adat gagal diselesaikan secara berkesan, kurang daripada 50% Orang Asli di Kelantan mendapat kemudahan asas yang sempurna seperti bekalan air bersih, elektrik, jalan raya dan rumah.

“Bekalan air tidak ada manfaat kerana air semua keruh. Sehingga kini Orang Asli masih lagi minum air keruh, bekalan air paip pun tak ada,” kata Jamali ketika ditemui FMT.

JKOAK mewakili lebih 13,000 Orang Asli di Kelantan. Jaringan itu turut sama bersolidariti bersama masyarakat Orang Asli Gua Musang baru-baru ini yang cuba menghalang kemasukan pembalak ke kawasan yang dikatakan tanah adat mereka.

Menurut Jamali, isunya sama ada janji tidak ditunaikan, atau ia tidak seperti yang diharapkan.

“Walaupun Kerajaan Persekutuan bagi loji air baru-baru ini tetapi tak berfungsi. Sekadar hiasan untuk Orang Asli.

“Jalan juga tidak ada. Yang ada hanya jalan untuk kegunaan pembalak. Bila projek balak habis jalan tersebut tidak ada pembaharuan.

“Mereka bina jalan untuk pembalak, bukannya untuk Orang Asli,” katanya. Read more

Rohingya refugee rights — Tricia Yeoh

Source: The Sundaily

BY TRICIA YEOH

opinion-clipart-k12118272AT A “Solidarity March” two weekends ago, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak protested the atrocities taking place in Myanmar, condemning Myanmar for what he considered as the “genocide” and “ethnic cleansing” of the Rohingya community.

What is happening in Myanmar is without a doubt disturbing, and requires international attention. But Najib needs to turn his eye to the refugee conditions on home ground in Malaysia.

First, Malaysia sits on the United Nations Security Council and could have used this position to act on its concerns, but through the appropriate channels.

If it wants to elevate the seriousness of the developments at an international level, the government could table an emergency motion on what it considers to be the genocide of the Rohingyas in Myanmar at the UN Security Council.

Second, Malaysia has not yet signed or ratified the 1951 United Nations Refugee Convention, which means the government does not formally or legally recognise refugees in the country.

This includes Rohingyas, who are therefore not recognised as refugees. The implications of this are, namely, that the government can act according to its whims and fancies whenever it is convenient for it to appear humanitarian. Read more

Decades of denial as Rohingya genocide continues — Nancy Hudson-Rodd

Source: New Mandala

Pic form New Mandala.

Pic form New Mandala.

In 1992, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights assigned a Special Rapporteur to monitor the situation of human rights in Myanmar. This intervention by the United Nations (UN) was motivated by the need to respond to grave and systematic human rights violations perpetrated by the country’s military regime against civilians, especially the persecution of the Rohingya. More than a decade later, at the 2005 World UN Summit, all member states endorsed the Responsibility to Protect, a global norm “aimed at preventing and halting Genocide, War Crimes, Ethnic Cleansing and Crimes against Humanity.” Still, genocide of the Rohingya continues.

Following a recent outbreak of violence on 9 October in which nine police officers were killed, the Myanmar military has declared the Maungdaw area an ‘operational zone’ and reportedly conducted lethal ‘clearance operations’ to hunt down Rohingya ‘militants’ accused of the attacks on three border posts, despite the assailants’ identities being unknown. Local ethnic Buddhist Rakhines have been recruited to supplement other forces, and are armed to protect Buddhist residents from Muslim militants “who never follow the laws and are trying to seize our land and extend their territory”, according to Colonel Sein Lwin, Rakhine State Police Officer. The new recruits will serve 18 months with border police then be deployed to police stations in their hometowns. Rohingya have little chance of escape. Read more

What if it happened to us, former minister asks ‘facilitators’ of unilateral conversion — Zaid Ibrahim

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Perlis legislative assembly approved the Islamic Religion Administration Enactment (Amendment) 2016 Bill by a 13-1 majority on 9 December 2016. Image taken from FMT News.

Perlis legislative assembly approved the Islamic Religion Administration Enactment (Amendment) 2016 Bill by a 13-1 majority on 9 December 2016. Image taken from FMT News.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — Perlis lawmakers who passed an amendment to permit unilateral conversion were disregarding the suffering that the practise could cause, according to Datuk Zaid Ibrahim.

The former de facto law minister said while the Muslim assemblymen who voted in favour of the change may believe they were acting for the benefit of their faith, they were being unfair to the families who would be affected.

“How would they feel if (hypothetically) a non-Muslim parent could unilaterally convert a Muslim child to Hinduism or Christianity? They would cry: that’s not fair. The whole country would be in turmoil,” he wrote on his blog today.

“And yet these same Muslims don’t think about treating others with fairness because others cannot convert their Muslim children. They are spared the need to reciprocate and be reasonable. That’s what too much power can do to Malays.”

Non-Muslims are forbidden by law to proselytise to or convert Muslims in Malaysia, but not vice versa.

Perlis last week amended its Administration of the Religion of Islam Enactment 2006 from requiring the consent of both parents or a guardian, to the consent of one parent or guardian. Read more

What it’s like to be a Rohingya in KL: A daily battle for dignity

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Abdul Rahman and his family stays in a 650 sqf room without furniture. Apart from some clothes donated to them, they came to Malaysia with bare necessities. ― Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

Abdul Rahman and his family stays in a 650 sqf room without furniture. Apart from some clothes donated to them, they came to Malaysia with bare necessities. ― Pictures by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 12 — Every day at 5.30am, 34-year-old Abdul Rahman gets up from a “bed” which is actually just a thin piece of cloth spread over the cheap linoleum-covered floor of the room.

He would then tiptoe out to a common bathroom that is shared with another tenant — a Rohingya family just like his living in the other room.

Abdul Rahman tries his best not to wake his wife and five children; they sleep just next to him on the same thin cloth, sharing three pillows.

Only the linoleum provides him and his family some protection from the cold and rough concrete floor, that and the one large faded blanket they share.

For Abdul Rahman, who fled his home in the conflict-torn Rakhine state in Myanmar in search of a peaceful life in Malaysia two years ago, this tiny room — just 650 square feet — is a sanctuary. Read more