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Thursday, December 1, 2016

47 Orang Asli released, reunited with families

Activist lawyer Siti Kasim thanks police for their help and absolves them, saying Kelantan forestry department responsible for actions against Orang Asli.

GUA MUSANG - The 47 Orang Asli who were detained by police on Tuesday after refusing to move from a blockade they set up here, were released today.

The men who spent two nights at the Gua Musang police station, were released at 2.50pm and some of them were in tears when they were reunited with their families.

They were among those who put up blockades at Simpang Petei and the entry route to Pos Bihai.

They were arrested after refusing to move from the barricaded area during an operation to dismantle the logging barriers by the state forestry department.

The operation was conducted following a deadlock in negotiations between the state government and the Orang Asli, allegedly due to interference from outsiders.

Alang Along, who was among the 47, said police did not mistreat them.

“We were treated well. They gave us food and drinks,” he told FMT.

Another of the detainees, Ali Andak said he kept thinking about his family while in the lock-up.
“I was sad, but we are fighting for our rights.”

Activist Siti Kasim, who was the lawyer for the 47, thanked all of those who played a role in securing the release of the group.

She said the police were merely acting on the orders of the magistrate.

“We are not sure if they will be charged or not, but if they are, we will assist them.”

Meanwhile, Siti also wrote in a Facebook post, that she absolved the police of any wrongdoing, stating that she always believed that the actions against the Orang Asli were carried out by the state forestry department.

“I have gotten clarification that they (the police) were officially requested by the forestry (department) and that they are obligated to facilitate it,” she said.

She then thanked the police for being helpful and accommodating.

By Faiz Zainudin

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