KOTA BARU: A non-governmental organisation has told the Kelantan government not to use underhand tactics against the orang asli who are trying to protect their land and homes.
Center to Combat Corruption & Cronyism (C4) founder Cynthia Gabriel said it "is deeply alarmed and disturbed at the arrests of about 40 orang asli leaders in attempting to defend the blockades in their native customary lands of Simpang Petei near Pos Gob, Betau Cawas near Pos Bihai and Kelawong di Pos Pasik."
"Is this the type of government who prefers to use underhand tactics and what happened to the promise by the Kelantan deputy mentri besar to meet the orang asli and see the devastation of their forest. It never happened," Cynthia said in a press statement.
She was commenting on the arrest of over 40 orang asli activists manning several barricades to stop logs from coming out from the Balah permanent forest reserve since late September.
The activists who were detained on Tuesday included Jaringan Orang Asli Kelantan Chairman Azmi Badul and his secretary Mustapa Along.
Cynthia said C4 had worked with these communities closely and its recent efforts to bring officals to Gua Musang and hear the concerns of the Orang Asli saw various pledges to uphold good governance and protect the rights of the orang asli, and together find peaceful ways out of the impasse.
She added these lofty promises were broken after Kelantan Forestry Department and police sent officers to break down the three logging blockades.
These violent actions would not benefit anyone, certainly not the state administration and its people but perhaps the logging companies waiting with their chainsaws and machines to fell the trees, Cynthia said.
She insisted that the orang asli are released immediately and dialogues resume to find amicable solutions for the community.