Extracted From Malaysiakini


Ibans held for 'threatening loggers'

Tony Thien

Oct 11, 06 5:13pm


Fifteen Ibans were detained in the Simunjan police lock-up in Sarawak for 24 hours on Monday, for allegedly threatening loggers.


Initially, five were arrested by a police party within a timber concession area awarded to the Kuching-based First Binary Sdn Bhd. They were sent to the police lock-up on Monday afternoon.


The others, including spouses of some of those detained, were held that night at the police station when they went to lodge a report against the timber company. The 15 are from Kampung Sual, located just outside the concession area.


In the police report made on behalf of the group by Retty ak Lemu, the Ibans said the company had encroached into their customary rights land and that the logging activities had damaged their trees on Sept 30.


That day, they said they persuaded the drivers of the company's three tractors to hand over the keys to them. The following day, they heard the drivers were back at work.


Mat ak Tanggon, at 63 the eldest in the group, told a press conference at the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association headquarters in Kuching that the five arrested at the site had gone into the forest to look for timber to make handles for long knives, and not to cause mischief or threaten anyone as alleged by the company.


They were not told why they were detained, even when they were released on Tuesday, he said.


"We were released just like that. We resent the manner in which we were arrested, just like someone catching chickens," a member of the group said.


Another expressed suspicion over the grounds of their detention.


"They think we are trouble-makers which we are not. For the last three months, the company has been working day and night. Trucks have been transporting logs out at night. So, we decided to stake out the area to monitor the activities," he said.


'Revoke licence' call


The Ibans want the authorities to revoke the timber licence and further urged the police to respect human rights and customary native land rights while carrying out their duties.


The company was issued with a timber licence T/8404 for a one-year period from July 6, 2005. This allowed them to log an area of about 1,400ha in Gunung Temiang State Land adjacent to Ngili Forest Reserve. It has since been renewed for another year.


First Binary director Lau Pung Sung told malaysiakini that his company was already compensating natives living in Kampung Temiang, which lies within the concession area. They are paid RM20 for every tonne of timber taken out.



He added that at a recent meeting chaired by the area penghulu, it was determined that the Ibans from Kampung Sual had no right to claim NCR land within the concession area.


"It appears there is a dispute between the two longhouses, but as far as our company is concerned we are paying the rightful claimants compensation at the agreed rate," Lau said.


However, the Ibans from Kampung Sual are not giving up. They have taken their case to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia and intend to complain to the local authorities about the alleged destruction of their trees.