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Rally Over Kayong Killing

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MIRI: A mammoth gathering of human rights organisations and land rights groups from throughout Sarawak and the country is being planned to express a united stance over the brutal slaying of Miri politician and land rights activist Bill Kayong.

The planned gathering will be held here, where the Miri PKR secretary was shot dead in cold blood along the Pan-Borneo Highway, 20km north of the city centre, on Tuesday morning.

Talks are believed to be under way to bring the leaders of these organisations together in one venue as a show of strength and unity and to condemn the murder as well as to discuss current concerns about land rights and other pressing human rights issues in the state and country.

Save Sarawak Rivers chairman Peter Kallang confirmed that the proposed gathering was being discussed.

“All of us who are fighting for social justice on land and human rights need to come together in a show of unity and purpose.

“We are all very concerned about this murder of Bill Kayong.

“We believe that this case involves issues that are not connected to politics,” he told The Star yesterday.

Kayong’s killing, he added, would serve to unite the groups in their struggle to fight for justice for the indigenous communities.

Meanwhile, a coalition of non-governmental bodies has issued a joint statement to condemn the shooting.

Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia said the coalition was shocked and angered by the murder, and wanted those responsible to be brought to justice.

“There had been a spate of violence and threats against land rights activists and the natives,” it said.

It wants the state government to “look into the root causes of native land disputes and to take concrete measures to review current land laws and policies to ensure justice for the natives”.

It hailed Kayong for being vocal and fearless in fighting for the cause of the native communities.

Kayong’s funeral today is expected to feature a 40km procession from his home in Desa Senadin in Kuala Baram district to the Muslim cemetery in Lambir sub-district, 20km from here.

Top leaders from PKR, including president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and vice-presidents Nurul Izzah Anwar and Tian Chua, as well as leaders of non-governmental organisations and Dayak communities will be present.

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