Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Malaysian authorities destroy Borneo village

Thursday, 21 January 2010 admin-s
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House of lead plaintiff in landmark rainforest litigation demolished by Sarawak authorities in an arbitrary law enforcement action.

By Bruno Manser Fund

SUNGAI SEKABAI / SARAWAK, EAST MALAYSIA. In a dramatic twist to one of Malaysia’s most prominent legal conflicts between native communities and the government of the East Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo, a Sarawak Land and Survey enforcement team, with assistance from Malaysian army personnel and the police, have yesterday demolished 25 houses of an Iban native community at Sungai Sekabai near the town of Bintulu.

According to the Sarawak Indigenous Peoples’ network, TAHABAS, the law enforcement squad demolished about 25 houses with all the natives’ belongings inside without prior notice being given to the community. Most of the occupants were left without any place to live and their belongings were also intentionally destroyed by the enforcement team, writes TAHABAS, adding that the Iban natives were in shock over what had happened to their homes.

Among the victims of the arbitrary attack on the native community’s property is headman Nor anak Nyaway who gained international recognition for having won a land rights litigation against the Sarawak authorities. In a 2001 landmark court ruling, the High Court of Sabah and Sarawak acknowledged that the Iban community under Nor had native customary rights not only over their farmland but also over primary rainforests.

The current demolition of the Iban’s homes is apparently based on an eviction order issued by a local court. Sarawak lawyer Baru Bian, the legal representative of the Iban community, said the court order was granted on technical grounds only and not on merit and that it was under appeal.

Baru, who is also Sarawak chairman of Anwar Ibrahim’s Justice party, PKR, said the authorities’ action was “unacceptable” and “inhumane”. He also commented that the authorities should not be involved at this stage as it was a private land issue between the native community and a timber company. Baru said his law office was currently preparing a new lawsuit on the matter and would ask the court for an order of injunction and for compensation being given to the natives.

The Bruno Manser Fund condemns the Sarawak authorities’ arbitrary destruction of a native village and calls on the international community to pressure Malaysia to respect the hunman rights of Sarawak’s native population.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Malaysian Churches Attacked over a mere word 'Allah'

KL church torched

Police and firemen outside the gutted Metro Tabernacle church.

Picture by Malaysian Insider

Picture byMalaysiakini

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 — A city church in the leafy Desa Melawati suburb was set on fire at midnight as police warned angry Muslim groups not to protest a controversial ruling allowing Catholic weekly Herald to use “Allah” in its national language section.

The attack on the Metro Tabernacle A/G, an Assemblies of God church in Jalan 4/4C Desa Melawati, completely gutted its administrative office on the ground floor. There were no reported injuries in the midnight attack.

Police have yet to identify the attackers and no one has claimed responsibility for the attack which could be related to anger over the Dec 31 court ruling. The judgment has been suspended pending government appeal.

According to an eyewitness who had just finished a drink at a coffeeshop located directly across the church, three or four persons on two motorcycles stopped in front of the church.

"They proceeded to break the glass panels on the ground floor before pouring some flammable liquid and setting off a fire," said a statement issued by the church.

The church is housed in a three-storey shoplot with the office on the ground floor. Church officials have lodged a police report over the incident.

Earlier in the night, the judiciary website was defaced and later taken offline.

The Metro Tabernacle is not affiliated to the Roman Catholic Church which had challenged a 2007 order to stop using “Allah” to describe the Christian God in the Herald's Bahasa Malaysia section.

The Herald is tightly circulated among the mainly Muslim country's estimated 850,000 Catholics who worship in English, Mandarin, Tamil and Bahasa Malaysia.

The Roman Catholic Church had agreed not to object to suspend the judgment out of "national interests" as Muslim groups objected to the ruling and threatened to protest.

The groups have organised protests after Friday prayers at two mosques in Kuala Lumpur today despite police orders not to proceed.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his cousin Home Minister Datuk Hishamuddin Hussein have backed the right to protest within mosque grounds to the chagrin of many who have been previously detained at opposition gatherings.

Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur police chief Mohamad Sabtu Osman said it was premature to link the attack on the church to the protests over the Allah ban.

''We are still investigating,'' he told the Associated Press. He also urged Muslims not to participate in the planned protests, adding that police would be stationed at mosques to monitor the situation.

Police limit gatherings in public to five people and usually take tough action, including using tear gas and chemically-laced water from water cannons, to disperse protests.

4th church attacked, police find no cars smashed


KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 8 – A fourth Klang Valley church, this time in Kampung Subang, was reportedly attacked with Molotov cocktail which failed to explode while police have dismissed reports that cars with Christian symbols having their windscreens smashed in the Bangsar suburb today, hours after arson attacks on three churches.

Police have sent a team to investigate the latest church attack in Kampung Subang which is linked to the controversial High Court ruling allowing “Allah” to be used by Catholic weekly Herald in its Bahasa Malaysia section that has outraged Muslim groups.

Selangor police chief DCP Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said the Molotov cocktail failed to explode.

City police have also increased patrols in the middle-class Bangsar suburb after people reported cars with Christian symbols such as crucifixes and rosaries had their windscreens smashed. However, police say no cars have been found smashed.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said in the morning three churches were attacked from midnight - the Metro Tabernacle in Desa Melawa

ti, the Church of Assumption in Petaling Jaya Old Town and the Life Chapel in Section 17, Petaling Jaya.

Stories by Malaysian Insider.

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