Indigenous communities across Malaysia face relentless harassment, intimidation, arrest, violence and even death as they peacefully resist attempts to force them off land they consider ancestral, a report by Amnesty International reveals today.
The report, “The Forest Is Our Heartbeat:” The Struggle to Defend Indigenous Land in Malaysia, documents the countless obstacles faced by members of Indigenous communities and those who advocate on their behalf across the country. Amnesty International’s investigation is based on dozens of interviews with Indigenous community members, village heads, local activists, members of civil society organizations, lawyers, academics and journalists across Peninsular Malaysia, as well as Sabah and Sarawak.
“The government is failing to protect Indigenous peoples’ right to land, which on paper is recognized under Malaysian law,” said Rachel Chhoa-Howard, Malaysia Researcher at Amnesty International. “Indigenous cultures are at risk of disappearing completely, together with Malaysia’s forests.”