KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — Eleven Orang Asli villagers from the Pos Piah district in Sungai Siput, Perak, have been arrested in relation to a dispute over logging activities on their ancestral land.
Details around what had transpired are scarce at the moment, but activists said the 11 were picked up for protesting against the logging company and for demanding dialogue with the Perak Forestry Department.
Police said the 11 were arrested under Section 186 of the Penal Code for obstruction of civil servants from performing their duty.
“We are investigating the matter under Section 186 and we are in the process of requesting a four-day remand order,” Inspector Mas Hazreen, the case’s investigating officer, told Malay Mail Online.
According to lawyer and Orang Asli rights activist Siti Kasim, the 11 were brought to the Grik police district headquarters and are held there now.
An activist from the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) said those arrested were part of a delegation comprising village elders and leaders that had met with the police and officials from the state forestry department and the logging company last month.
The party said the delegation had submitted two letters of complaint to protest against the potential destruction of their ancestral land by the logging operations. They had called for dialogue.
An official from the Sungai Siput MP’s Office said the Orang Asli villagers of Kampung Kembok were among those affected by the logging activity taking place in the Pos Piah district.
“The issues raised by them were reasonable as they wanted to know the impact of logging [that] could damage and pollute the nearby river,” the party said in a statement.
“The river is the only source of clean water as well as food for them,” it added.