GERIK: Gerik police have denied arresting three Orang Asli following a standoff with logging company workers over a blockade at Kampung Sungai Papan here.
Gerik OCPD Superintendent Ismail Che Isa said the three men, Zaiman Long, 36, Jamal Endi, 38, and Mohamad Nazreen Bah Dadu, 22, all from Dala Gerik resettlement scheme, were only taken to the district police station for documentation purposes.
"We only recorded their statements. They were released unconditionally in the afternoon," he said in a statement on Saturday (July 20).
Supt Ismail said the police received two reports from the logging company on Wednesday and Friday (July 17 and 19), who were unhappy with the blockades built by the Orang Asli at Kampung Sungai Papan and near the Air Chepam Forest Reserve.
He said the workers tried to demolish the blockade at Kampung Sungai Papan with bulldozers on Thursday (July 18) but were stopped by the state Orang Asli Development Department (JAKOA).
"All three parties held a meeting but the Orang Asli insisted that the forest land there was their ancestral land and said that they would continue defending the blockade.
"Today at 10am, the workers again tried to demolish the blockade. About 25 orang asli also created a human blockade to stop the workers," he said.
In a statement, Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia (Peka) president Puan Seri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said Malaysian courts had recognised these ancestral land of the Orang Asli.
She said the blockades set up by the Orang Asli was an assertion of their rights in accordance with the law.
"The defiance by state authorities in recognising the Orang Asli's common law rights is a matter to be dealt with by the courts," she said.
She also hit out at the state government for continuing to issue permits to loggers, plantations and developers, knowing full well that the Orang Asli would defend their ancestral land.