Miri – All the 11 villagers from Ulu Kelawit-Tatau under police remand were released after five days in a cell, reports Save Rivers.
Although freed, they are now complaining about the manner of their arrest and the reasons behind it.
The 10 men and one woman were released by the Sibu High Court on court bail of RM500 with two sureties for each of the eleven.
Before their release, they were charged on 30 October by the Mukah Magistrates’ Court under Section 341 of the Malaysian Penal Code for wrongful restraining a person. But they refuted the basis of their charge. They claimed that they never “restrained” anyone but were merely upholding their right to protect their own property, which was being invaded.
Relating her experience of being arrested, Lulong Anak Bujah, the only woman in the group, claimed that she recognised the police officer who put the handcuff on her. “We did not resist nor were we abusive when being arrested,” said Lulong.
“While I was being handcuffed, I asked the police officers why we were arrested as we did not commit any crime but (were) merely safeguarding our properties from intruders; that was when he hit the back of my head and pushed my head down,” she claimed
Lulong said the police party arrived in around 10 four-wheel-drive vehicles. More than 20 police offices in uniform were involved in the operation and around seven of them were wearing face masks. The police did not tell the villagers why they were being arrested. The police also did not say anything else before handcuffing the villagers.
The raid was carried out on 25 October while most of the blockaders were away in Mukah waiting for the release of their fellow protester, Pangarah Anak Mamat, who was arrested at the blockade a day earlier. The villagers remaining at the blockade site on that day were the ones who were arrested and their tents including their property allegedly burned by police.
The lawyer for the villagers, Simon Sia, who was with them at the release, said that the case is scheduled for hearing in Mukah on 6 November 2018.