GUA MUSANG: Three Orang Asli activists who were detained by thugs claiming to be police have lodged police reports over the incident.
Mustafa Along, Manglo A/L Tegau and another activist named Salim lodged reports at the Gua Musang district police station on Wednesday night.
All three had been involved in a blockade set up by the orang asli community on a logging trail between Pos Tohoi and Pos Simpo, located approximately two-and-a-half hours from Gua Musang.
According to Mustafa Along, secretary of the Kelantan Network of Orang Asli Villages, the blockade was visited by the heads of the logging companies operating in the area.
He said they were joined by “police and Forestry Department officers” as well as “aggressive workers”.
Also present, it seems, were videographers from media agencies.
“As we held the blockade we were threatened and provoked to end it,” he told The Star on Wednesday.
When Mustafa began talking back to the interlopers, he was detained by the men claiming to be police on the grounds of provocation, blocking a thoroughfare and disturbing the peace.
He said they had showed him some identification when he asked for their police cards, though he did not get a good look.
However, when Mustafa offered his hands to be handcuffed, he said they refused.
“I was taken to a four-wheel drive vehicle, which I believe belongs to a worker from a logging company,” he said.
The two other activists were taken in as the orang asli refused to back down following Mustafa being detained, he said.
“We were arrested but not arrested officially. The aim was just to frighten the others,” said Mustafa.
All three were later released and the identities of the supposed police officers remain unclear.
In videos provided to The Star by the Orang Asli activists, the loggers appeared to have used chainsaws to cut down the barricade while the activists were still clinging on to it.
Once the barricade was dismantled, they drove one of their lumber lorries through the path.
At this point the orang asli group were force to retreat.
“We ran and we stopped at the side of the road. We ran with our cameras.
“After that, a vehicle with two people inside stopped in front of us and one of them took their rifle out and fired,” said Halim from Kampung Pasik, one of the activists present.
He said that the armed man got down to pick up his spent shell and fired another warning shot further down the road.
Despite the confrontation, the orang asli community remained determined to maintain the blockade and the barricade was restored after the loggers’ left.
The blockade, which was set up on Monday, was part of an initiative by the Orang Asli to drive loggers from what they claim is their ancestral land.-By Danial Albakri/The Star Online