Grave robbers back in action

  • Nation
  • Monday, 28 Jul 2003

SIBU: The notorious Iban grave robbers are back in action after almost a year of inactivity. 

More than 40 graves at two communal cemeteries here have been desecrated. 

Several days ago, a longhouse party discovered 16 damaged graves in Nanga Sekuau during a funeral there. 

The isolated graveyard is shared by 25 longhouses there. 

According to Simon Luha from one of the longhouses, the robbers targeted old graves which belonged to mainly deceased females. 

He said the remains were taken out of the coffins and left scattered or mixed by the robbers. 

“This has caused great anguish among their relatives as they do not know which grave belonged to whom.” 

He said some of the villagers went to the graveyard yesterday to rebury the remains and to repair the graves. 

Simon said a report had been lodged at the Stapang police station, about 45km from here. 

Robbers looking for baya (valuables like gold ornaments buried with the dead) first struck just before Christmas last year where 18 graves were desecrated. 

In Sungai Engkalat, more than 30 graves were found desecrated yesterday. It was first “disturbed” on Nov 22 last year when 22 graves were dug up. 

Remains of the deceased like skulls and bones and many personal items were strewn around after their tombs were smashed, graves dug up and coffins prised open. 

A villager from Sungai Bidut, who only wants to be identified as Ujis, 36, said the robbers would take gold jewellery buried with the dead. 

“We have stopped burying our dead with such items after the first incident,” he said. 

Of the more than the 30 graves affected, two suffered a similar fate last year. – Bernama  

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