MIRI: Sarawak social-activist groups are joining international activists throughout Asia for a major Borneo-level native human-rights conference.
The conference is being held in Sintang City in Kalimantan, about three hours by land across the Sarawak border in Tebedu.
The week-long gathering will start today.
Society for Rights of Indigenous Peoples of Sarawak (SCRIPS) are among the Sarawak native rights groups invited for the Borneo conference.
Scrips secretary-general Michael Jok is one of the keynote speakers.
Jok said he has been invited by the organiser to talk about the latest concerning native land rights issues in Sarawak.
“The Borneo level conference in Sintang is jointly organised by native rights groups from Kalimantan, Sarawak and Sabah.
The organising team have also invited experts on land rights and human rights from other Asian countries to come.
Land rights and other human rights topics are hot issues not just in Sarawak and Sabah but also in Kalimantan.
“We NGOs throughout Borneo must speak with a common voice,” Jok said.
Jok said the conference participants will issue a joint-declaration urging government parties from all states to give more attention to solve land right woes affecting indigenous communities.
The declaration may be forwarded to all the governments.
Jok said that in Sarawak and Malaysia, not enough have been done by the government at the national and state levels to comprehensively resolve land rights woes of natives.
“This problem is affecting the indigenous natives of not just Sarawak but also Sabah and the peninsula states.
“All native communities are being plagued by unfair encroachment of their ancestral land by land development agencies from private companies and government agencies.
“In each region there are hundreds of land disputes that are still unresolved for years.
“We want the political parties to make this topic on land rights of natives to be in their manifestos,” he said.
Borneo is the third largest island in the world.