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Malaysia: Excessive force / ill-treatment / possible prisoners of conscience:

, Index number: ASA 28/014/1997

Enyang ak Gendung, Indit ak Uma, Siba ak Sentu, shot and injured; Untok ak Utom, Rolly ak Sylvester Nyelong, Sylvester Nyelong ak Mudat, Johan ak Jau, Jau and Tingom ak Rangking: Three Iban were shot and seriously injured by police during a protest on 19 December 1997 and some others have been taken into police custody. AI fears for the safety of members of the Dayak Iban indigenous community.

EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 28/14/97
UA 407/97 Excessive force / Ill-treatment /
Possible prisoners of conscience 22 December 1997
MALAYSIAEnyang ak Gendung, aged 40 )
Indit ak Uma ) shot and injured
Siba ak Sentu, 36 )
Untok ak Utom )
Rolly ak Sylvester Nyelong )
Sylvester Nyelong ak Mudat, aged 36 )
Johan ak Jau, aged 19 ) detained
Jau, aged 50 )
Tingom ak Rangking, aged 60 )
Fear for the safety of members of the Dayak Iban indigenous community in the
Malaysian state of Sarawak involved in a land dispute has been heightened after
three Iban were shot and seriously injured by police during a protest on 19
December 1997. Several community members subsequently taken into police
custody may be prisoners of conscience.
Officers of the Police Field Force (PFF), armed with M16 rifles, opened fire
on unarmed villagers in Sungai Subukut, Bakong, Miri Division in Sarawak.
Enyang ak Gendung is in a coma in intensive care and it is feared he may not
survive. Indit ak Uma and Siba ak Sentu are also being treated at Miri General
Hospital for gunshot injuries. Several others are reported to have been injured
by police batons, including TR Bangga ak Andap the village headman, and Untok
ak Utom who was admitted to hospital after being struck on the head. He was
later taken into police custody.
The shootings and beatings happened during the course of a peaceful protest
by about 300 members of the indigenous community against the development of
their native customary land by an oil palm plantation company, Empresa Sdn.
Bhd. Local people lodged complaints with the police against the company after
it began clearing their land with bulldozers and damaging crops without any
prior notification or consultation with them. When the police and other
government authorities refused to take any action against the company and
clearance operations continued, the villagers confiscated three of the
company’s bulldozers and began a peaceful protest, calling for negotiations
over the use of their land. On 19 December PFF officers arrived at the scene
and tried to arrest several people without any warrant. A commotion began and
police officers opened fire on the villagers.
Six people, including Untok ak Utom, are reported to have been detained at
Miri Central Police Station in connection with the incident. It is not known
whether they have been charged with any offence.
According to an article published in the Borneo Post on 20 December, one police
officer was injured by a machete during the incident. Large numbers of PFF
officers have since been drafted into the area and there are fears that further
arrests may be imminent.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
Amnesty International is concerned about reports of escalating harassment and
arbitrary arrests of members of the indigenous Dayak Iban communities who have
been engaged in peaceful protests at the development of their native customary
2
land by oil palm plantation companies. In July 1997, 42 members of another
Iban community in Sarawak were detained for several weeks in connection with
a similar dispute. A number of the group were badly beaten during arrest.
(See UA 196/97, ASA 28/10/97, 2 July 1997 and update, ASA 28/11/97, 4 August).
The following month the Miri High Court allowed their appeals against their
detention, ruling that they had been arrested without just cause and quashing
an order for them to keep the peace for six months.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
English or your own language:
- expressing deep concern at the shooting of Enyang ak Gendung, Indit ak Uma
and Siba ak Sentu by police officers on 19 December 1997;
- calling for an immediate impartial inquiry into the shootings and reports
of ill-treatment, for the findings to be made public, and for those responsible
to be brought to justice;
- calling for immediate steps to ensure that members of the police abide by
the UN Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials;
- urging that anyone detained solely on account of their peaceful activities
in protest at the development of their native customary land be released
immediately and unconditionally;
- seeking assurances that the Dayak Iban who are engaged in peaceful protests
at the development of their land will be able to do so free from the threat
of arbitrary arrest or ill-treatment.
APPEALS TO:
Chief Minister of Sarawak
YAB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mohamud
Chief Minister of Sarawak
Tingkat 14, Wisma Bapa Malaysia
Petra Jaya, 93502 Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Telegrams: Chief Minister, Sarawak, Malaysia
Faxes: +60 82 440 506;
Salutation: Dear Minister
Inspector General of Police
Tan Sri Rahim Noor
Federal Police Headquarters
Bukit Aman Police Station
50560 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Telegrams: Inspector General, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Faxes: +60 3 291 0707
Salutation: Dear Inspector General
COPIES TO:
Prime Minister
Dato’ Seri Dr Mahathir bin Mohamad
Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs
Jalan Dato' Onn, 50502 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Faxes: +60 3 255 6264 or +60 3 298 4172
and to diplomatic representatives of MALAYSIA accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 10 February 1998.

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