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Malaysia: Climate of impunity puts Indigenous rights defenders at risk

    Tuesday, January 15, 2019 - 15:03
    Justice for Bill Kayong
    Family members continue to campaign for justice for Bill Kayong

    Bill Kayong, a vocal advocate for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Malaysia, was gunned down in broad daylight in June 2016. His relatives believe the murder could have been prevented if police had acted on reports of threats and harassment leading up the killing. Furthermore, although one person was prosecuted for the crime, the person or persons who ordered the killing have escaped justice.

    Unfortunately, this tragic story is far from unique.

    A new report by Amnesty International documents a widespread pattern of violence against Indigenous leaders and communities in Malaysia. This violence is taking place in the context of a longstanding failure by federal and state authorities in Malaysia to uphold the rights of Indigenous peoples when their lands are targeted for resource development.

    This is a critical time in Malaysia.

    A new governing coalition was elected in May 2018 on a reform agenda that included a campaign pledge to “recognise, uphold and protect the dignity and rights” of the Indigenous peoples of Malaysia. Putting this important promise into action would make a dramatic difference in the lives of Indigenous peoples in Malaysia.

    Please speak out

    Write a short, politely worded letter to the Malaysian ambassador to Canada.

    Her Excellency Aminahtun Karim Shaharudi, High Commissioner
    High Commission of Malaysia in Ottawa
    60 Boteler St, Ottawa, ON K1N 8Y7

    Salution: Your Excellency

    • Welcome the Government of Malaysia's important commitments to recognize, uphold and  protects of Indigneous peoples.
    • Express your concern about the widespread violence facing Indigenous leaders and community members in Malaysia when they speak for their rights.  
    • Call on the Government of Malaysia to ensure that Indigenous human rights defenders are able to conduct their important work in a safe environment, free from the threat of harassment, criminalization and violence.
    • Ask Malaysian authorities to provide concrete protection to Indigenous peoples’ right to their lands and their cultural heritage, including by establishing an Independent National Commission on Indigenous Peoples.