Tomb raiders strike again

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 18 Feb 2003

SIBU: The notorious Iban tomb raiders are back and in the latest incident about 20 tombs in the Penasu/Batu Burak communal cemetery, about 18km from here, were desecrated. 

Longhouse chief Andrew Shilling said the discovery was made on Saturday and he lodged a report at the Sungai Merah police station the following day. 

An impromptu check indicated that at least 20 tombs had been desecrated, he said. 

He said the tombs were smashed and the coffins broken up, with the skulls and bones scattered about. 

Shilling said the cemetery, established since the Japanese Occupation (between 1941 and 1945), was shared by residents from 12 longhouses in the Penasu, Rayun and Batu Burak areas. 

“I believe a lot more tombs have been disturbed. I would like those who have relatives buried there to check on their tombs,” he said. 

He appealed to the 11 other longhouse chiefs to come to a meeting here tomorrow to discuss the reburial of those affected. 

A farmer, Akau alias Uchu Eyak, from Batu Burak, said he found the tombs of his grandparents desecrated on Sunday morning. 

“I went to the cemetery with three others and we saw signs like footprints and freshly-dug earth.” 

He said he decided to check on the tombs after hearing talk from other longhouse folk of the cemetery being disturbed. 

This is the first time this year that the raiders had come to look for “baya” or belongings in the form of cash, jewellery, antiques and other items buried with the dead. 

Last year just before Christmas, over 100 tombs in five different cemeteries here were desecrated which greatly angered the community and their leaders. 

Eight tombs in the Nanga Sekuau Regrouping and Resettlement Scheme, about 45km from here, were affected. – Bernama 

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