Urgent Action: Indigenous Land Rights at Risk (Malaysia: UA 23.20)

February 25, 2020

More than 930 hectares of ancestral land customarily claimed land by the largely Temuan Indigenous community in western Malaysia is at risk of having its status as a ‘forest reserve’ removed, resulting in some 1,000 Indigenous people being dispossessed of their land for development projects. The Selangor Forestry Department’s failure to consult the relevant Indigenous communities demonstrates a blatant disregard for the principle of free, prior and informed consent, as well as their willingness to put corporate development ahead of the welfare of citizens.

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  1. Write a letter in your own words or using the sample below as a guide to one or both government officials listed. You can also email, fax, call or Tweet them.
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YAB Dato’ Amirudin Shari
Chief Minister of Selangor
Pejabat Menteri Besar Selangor,
Tingkat 21,
Bangunan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah
Malaysia
Email: [email protected]
Ambassador Dato’ Azmil Mohd Zabidi
Embassy of Malaysia
3516 International Court NW, Washington DC 20008
Phone: 202 572 9700 I 202 572 9882
Email: [email protected]
Salutation: Dear Ambassador

Dear Y.A.B Tuan Amirudin Shari,

I am writing to express my concern over the proposed degazetting of 930.93 hectares of Kuala Langat North Forest Reserve by the Selangor Forestry Department. The proposed area comprises 97% of the total forest reserve and is home to four Temuan Indigenous settlements. If this land is degazetted, more than 1,000 Indigenous people face dispossession of their lands and forced relocation.

Indigenous peoples in Malaysia have often faced encroachment on their land because of development projects, preventing them from benefitting from their traditional sources of livelihood and leaving them at risk of poverty and further marginalization. In the worst cases, they have been summarily dispossessed of their lands, forced from their homes, and made to witness the depletion and degradation of natural resources they lay claim to. According to the community, the state made no effort to inform them of the nature, extent, and social and environmental impacts of the degazetting, or discuss alternatives. In fact, they say the first time the heard about the proposed de-gazetting was when they read the notice in the newspaper.

I am gravely concerned at the possible violation of free, prior and informed consent principles in this process—principles  that the Malaysian government has confirmed their commitment to through voting in favor of the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) in 2007 and the Outcome Document of the World Conference on Indigenous Peoples in 2014. I call on you to immediately cease the order to degazette KLNFR as forest reserve; work with the Department of Orang Asli Development and take immediate and concrete steps to ensure that KLNFR is gazetted as Orang Asli land by the end of the year; and ensure the full participation of the Temuan Indigenous community and obtain their free, prior and informed consent in all plans around the compliance of the gazetting of KLNFR.

Sincerely,

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES