Extracted from Malaysiakini
to be charged for setting logs on fire
The seven Ibans remanded in police custody since last Friday for allegedly setting alight 100 logs extracted by a timber company in Pantu, Sri Aman division in Sarawak will be produced in court tomorrow to face a charge of 'causing mischief by fire'.
"Investigation has not been completed yet. We still have one or two witnesses to interview," Sri Aman police chief DSP Abdul Hamid Bulat said today.
He said if the investigation is completed by tomorrow, the seven will be released on police bail otherwise the police will apply for a further remand.
Meanwhile, their lawyer Dominique Ng told malaysiakini that one of the Ibans, tuai rumah (village head) Rayang Ringkai, had a letter from the Forestry Department showing that Tasini Project Management Consultant Sdn Bhd, the timber company in question, had no right to enter the Ibans' communal forests and log them.
"Obviously the company has been entering the communal areas illegally, without the permission of the Forestry Department," Ng said, adding that if the police knew the facts they would have not arrested and remanded the seven Ibans from Kampung Bait, Pantu.
No respect for land rights
Ng said he will be going to Bandar Sri Aman, about 180km southeast of Kuching, to meet the police and his clients, and argue their case in court.
"In view of the letter in my possession from the Forestry Department, I will ask the police to show cause why they should not release them and I will also contemplate further action since the seven were arrested and remanded for no unreasonable cause," he added.
A local Iban non-governmental organisation spokesman has condemned the police action in view of the clear fact that they were merely defending their legitimate native customary rights (NCR) to their land from being logged.
the arrest of the Iban NCR landowners in Pantu, which has recently been a
spotlight of conflicts between local natives and a joint venture company between
a state agency and a peninsular
They have expressed concern at what they generally describe as the trampling of the indigenous groups' right to their ancestral lands by commercial interests with the clear support of state authorities.