A video of a group of Orang Asli people in Kelantan singing Negaraku as authorities moved in to destroy their blockade was posted by lawyer and native rights acitivist, Siti Kasim last night:
"First video acquired from our OAs on the destruction of their blockade. This is so moving.... The Temiars were singing Negaraku before their blockade smashed down by the Forestry personnel!!" read the post by Siti Kassim.
The two-minute video showed how the Kelantan forestry officials started approaching the Orang Asli's protest blockade and protesters started singing Negaraku, yesterday, 29 November.
They were seen waving the national flag as they sang the national anthem and as a sign of respect, the authorities stopped in their tracks for little while.
Unfortunately, towards the end of the song, the authorities broke the spell when they issued a warning, asking the protesters to leave the area.
"You have been asked to leave this area. Your blockade and the infrastructure set up here is a crime under the National Forestry Act.
"The reason why we are here today is to demolish the blockade and also whatever buildings are here," informed the official and they walked towards the two-month-old blockade.
Despite the warning from the forestry officials, the Orang Asli protesters refused to budge, which lead to the arrest of 41 activists who were detained at the Gua Musang district police headquarters
Siti posted a status update on the issue at about 12pm today, saying that she has managed to get a 2-day remand out of the 7 days that she had requested.
The lawyer also posted another update explaining about how the forestry authorities tried stopping her from seeing her clients, the arrested Orang Asli people.
"Treating our Orang Asli like common criminals. When I wanted to see them as my clients in Court, the Forestry people have the gall to stop me from seeing them. They obviously have no clue that everyone has a right to see their lawyers. I was about to complaint to the Magistrate when one TPR told them I must be allowed to see the OAs," said Siti, in a Facebook post that was posted at around 1pm today, 30 November.
Malaysiakini reported this afternoon that a total of 47 Orang Asli people have been remanded pending investigations into their anti-logging protest. According to Berita Harian, 17 out of the 47 were given three-day remand orders while the rest were only remanded for two days.
Siti also posted another video that showed an Orang Asli activist, Ani, saying that the authorities did not consult or speak with the indigenous community before demolishing their blockades and huts that the protesters used as their shelter
He also expressed how the Orang Asli community is not happy with how they decided to destroy their blockade all of a sudden without even telling them their purpose of being there first.
Malaysiakini reported that about 100 officers from the General Operations Force (GOF) of the police department were assisted by authorities from the Kelantan Forestry Department for the removal of the blockade.
It was also said that activists were told by the authorities that the police were only mobilised to the scene to "facilitate" the operation.
According to the English daily, the authorities were seen to have been destroying to wooden huts with chainsaw, while some of them were even kicking down the poles that supported the huts as the Orang Asli people could do nothing but just stand and watch their protest set up be demolished.
The photos below were posted yesterday by Siti Kasim on her Facebook. They depict the aftermath and state of the protest area after the authorities moved in to destroy all the huts and blockade.
The Orang Asli community in Gua Musang first set up the blockade in September to protest the logging at the Balah forest reserve, which is believed to be their ancestral land
In a press released that was published on the Malay Mail Online today, 30 November, Pusat Komas, a human rights organisation condemned the authorities' move to destroy the blockade and failing to respect the wishes of the Orang Asli community.
Calling it an intimidation and harassment, Pusat Komas said that the Orang Asli tried to discuss the matter with the Kelantan government but the efforts were to no avail.
After about two months of setting up the blockade, the Orang Asli protesters were said to have been served a notice on 6 November by the state government, which asked for them to remove the blockade by 20 November. The protesters did not respond to the notice and stood their ground.
Pusat Komas alleged that the Kelantan government does not recognise native rights and their rights to their ancestral lands.
"Incidentally, this right is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights Article 27 where, "No-one may stop you from participating in the cultural life of your community" and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) which sets out the individual and collective rights of indigenous peoples, as well as their rights to culture, identity, language, employment, health, education and other issues," read the press release.
Watch the moving video of the Orang Asli protesters singing Negaraku right before the authorities moved in to destroy their blockade:
While the Kelantanese Orang Asli community has failed in their battle to protect their ancestral land, the Penan people in Sarawak are being exploited and kicked out of their homes to make way for logging activities: