Return to Top Ten Contents


42 Dayaks Arrested

for Resisting Palm Plantation



Dear friends,

Good news! The order for 42 Ibans to keep peace was squashed by the High Court in Miri today.

We would like to express our utmost thanks to all of you who had shown support and written action/appeal letters to the Malaysian/Sarawak government and authorities concerned which to some extent had caused pressure to the government.

Best regards,



MIRI, Wed (6-8-97) - The High Court here this morning granted an appeal by 42 Ibans and squashed an order made by the Magistrates Court for them to execute a bond to keep peace for six months.

The 42 Ibans, including nine women were arrested and remanded on June 25,1997 at Miri Central Police Station and were ordered by the Magistrates Court.


The 42 Iban tribespeople arrested for resisting the creation of an oil palm plantation within their Native Customary Land (NCL). Under the scheme, the Dayaks' crops, gardens and forest will be cleared.


Included here are:

1. An urgent appeal (no longer applicable)

2. A letter from the imprisoned Iban

3. Updates on the situation


Urgent Appeal (no longer applicable)

28 June 1997

Dear friends,

Please kindly utilise a minute of your time for the natives of Sarawak. We are calling for your concerted action to write protest or appeal letter to the Malaysian Government, Sarawak State Government and relevant authorities concerned on the arrest of the 42 Ibans. We are expecting further arrest as the police is going to suppress the natives resistant against the oil palm plantation in the area.

Thank you very much. With regards,



MIRI : Afternoon on 25 June 1997 forty-two Dayak Ibans, including 9 women were arrested by platoons of Malaysian Police and Police Field Force (PFF) within their native customary land area in Sungai Bong, Teru, Tinjar in Baram District of Miri Division, Sarawak.

The 42 Ibans are from five longhouse communities namely: Rumah Rayong, Rumah Jawing, Rumah Pong, Rumah Janda and Rumah Jambo. At about 2.30 p.m. on 26 June, they were produced by the police before the Miri Magistrate's Court. Upon heard the application made by the police, the Magistrate ordered them to sign a bond to keep the peace for six months and to be released on RM3000 in two sureties each pursuant to Section 67 of the Criminal Procedure Code. The Ibans disagreed with the order and refused to sign the bond to keep the peace because the land on which the oil palm plantation is to be established is their native customary land.

In the afternoon of 27 June, the Magistrate issued a warrant order to send the Ibans to Miri Central Prison in Lambir as they failed to furnish bail.

A few of them, who have being brutally harassed and assaulted by the police are down with pains. Their body, hands and abdomen are swollen, hurts and bruises. They have been appealing for medical treatment from the police while under remand but their requests were ignored. While in the prison, they also trying to seek for medical attention as their pains deteriorate, again the prison warden refused to send / allow them for medical treatment.

Brief background of their struggles:

The Dayak Ibans communities in Sungai Bong, Teru, Tinjar in Baram District have been protesting against the implementation of oil palm plantation. The Sarawak State Government earmarked their native customary land area (NCL) for the development of oil palm plantation scheme without prior consultation with and / or informed consent of the Ibans affected.

They are resisting the oil palm plantation as it is going to be implemented within their NCL and their crops, gardens and forest will be cleared on which the Dayaks are dependent for survival. In spite of their strong opposition toward the oil palm plantation, the State government is forcing them to accept the plantation and the companies involved in the implementation of the oil palm plantation are imposing various tactics on the Dayaks so that they will surrender their NCL and accept the plantation.

The Ibans communities in Sungai Bong have undertaken various actions to protect and defend their rights over their NCL. They have been putting up numerous of blockades to stop logging activities within their NCL. They also filed legal action against a timber company and the State government's agency, the Land Custody and Development Authority ( LCDA ) which was commissioned to develop their NCL for oil palm plantation. These legal suits are still pending for hearing at the High Court in Miri.

What YOU Can Do

=WE CALL FOR YOUR CONTINUOUS ACTION AND SUPPORT for the 42 Dayak Ibans who are now imprisonment at Miri Central Prison in Lambir:


Note: there are three separate action requests here. If you only have time to respond to one of them, this one is the most imortant.

Please write and send protest letters to the following:

1. YAB Dato' Seri Anwar Ibrahim
Acting Prime Minister of Malaysia and Minister of Home Affair and Finance,
Prime Minister's Department
Jalan Dato' Onn
Kuala Lumpur,

Fax : +60 3 291 4268 / +60 3 230 6540 / +60 3 255 6264/ +60 3 230 0986

2. Inspector General of Police
Federal Police Headquarters
Bukit Aman
Kuala Lumpur

Fax : +60 3 291 0707

Request that :

a) The police and Police Field Force should stop harassing / intimidating the natives by arbitrarily arresting and detaining them for refusing to accept oil palm plantation schemes being implemented on their native customary land;

b) The Police should be neutral and fair in their action in relation to any Civil dispute(s) between the plantation companies and the natives and to respect the rights of the Iban natives to their native customary land which is recognised and protected by Section 2; 5 and 15 of the Sarawak Land Code Cap. 81 and their rights to property i.e. land under Articles 5 and 13 of the Federal Constitution;

c) The Police should respect the rights of the natives to exercise their lawful rights of private defence against any acts of criminal trespass, mischief and nuisance committed by the plantation companies on their native customary land and crops thereon which is specifically provided under Section 97, 104 and 105 of the Penal Code; and

d) The Police should advise all the parties involved to refer their dispute to the Court for determination particularly that if the plantation companies think they have rights over the customary land of the natives the Police should advise them to obtain a Court Order against the natives.

The Police should stop their present practice of "arresting ( the natives ) first and investigate later" which is very arbitrary and most unfair to the natives particularly when after arresting and detaining the natives, the police had failed to charge them in Court for the offence (s) for which they were arrested and detained.

This means as none of the natives arrested and detained todate have been convicted, all the offences they have allegedly committed had not been proven. As such, the Police should immediately stop any further arrest of the natives in these situations otherwise they are only going on a frolic of their own which is an abuse of their statutory powers.



1) The Chief Justice of the Federal Court,
Bangunan Sultan Ismail,
Kuala Lumpur,

Fax : 60 3 293 7339 / 60 3 293 2582

2) The Chief Judge of the High Court in Sabah and Sarawak,
Judicial Department,
Kuching, Sarawak,

Fax : 60 82 417 322

To ensure that:

a) The Court always strictly inquire to verify the truth of all allegations made by the Police when they apply for remand or apply for any order to execute a bond to keep the peace or to be of good behaviour particularly when it involves the natives who were arrested and detained as a result of their Civil disputes with and protests against plantation or logging companies which they claimed are trespassing onto their native customary land or damaging their crops thereon;

b) Their good office immediately review all the Orders to execute bond to keep the peace made by the Miri Magistrate's Court to-date so as to ensure the correctness, legality and propriety of these Orders made thus far such as in following cases, namely:

1. Miri Magistrate's Court
Criminal Case No. 89-119-97: PP v. Riggie Anak Beluluk & 2 others

2. Miri Magistrate's Court
Criminal Case No. 89-122-97: PP v. Anchum Ak Gana & 3 others

3. Miri Magistrate's Court
Criminal Case No. 83-160-97: PP v. Abas Ak Bali & 41 others.



YAB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud
The Chief Minister of Sarawak
Tingkat 14, Wisma Bapa Malaysia
Petra Jaya
93502 Kuching,

Tel : +60 82 443 439 Fax : +60 82 - 441 957 / 440 506 / 492 288

Your letter should include the following points:

1. Against the illegal and unconstitutional actions of the Sarawak Land and Survey Department for issuing provisional leases to State agencies and private companies which covered and affected the native customary land of the Dayaks on which they have prior and subsisting native customary rights;

2. Against the Sarawak Land and Survey Department for allowing the holders of the Provisional Leases to proceed to enter and clear all the land ( forest and crops thereon ) covered by the leases without any respect for the native customary rights of the Dayaks over the affected NCL; and

3. Against the undemocratic actions of the Sarawak government by systematically forcing the natives to accept the implementation of the oil palm plantations on their native customary land by accusing the natives of being instigated, anti-government and anti-development for opposing such plantation schemes over their land or by simply accusing the natives of making false claims over state land.

For Further information contact:


GPO . LB23 - BN354

Tel / Fax : 60 85 438 580
Email : bri @ tm. net. my


A Letter From the Imprisoned Iban:

Dear friends,

We send you a letter from the Ibans in Miri Central Prison which was given to us during our visit to the prison this afternoon. The letter was written in Ibans and translated to english for your information.

We hope you could react to their appeal. Thank you.






30th June 1997


To all our friends,

We are writing to all of you from inside the above prison to tell you of our suffering and how we had ended up here.

On 24th June 1997 we met with Surveyors from the Sarawak land and Survey Department who came to survey our native Customary Land in Upper Teru River, Tinjar, Baram, Miri Division, Sarawak, Malaysia for an oil palm plantation company to implement an oil palm plantation scheme which was against our consent.

We told them to stop their survey work so they told us to wait for their boss to come the next day. At about 3.30 pm on 25th June 1997, it was not their boss who came but about not less than forty Para-Military Police or Police Field Force.

As soon as they arrived they immediately proceeded to arrest us without telling us our crime.

We refused to be arrested . But they resorted to assaulting and beating us by kicking, punching us and butting us with their M16 rifles.

As a result many of us were bruised and suffered cuts and pains all over our body.

They took us into their trucks and brought us down to Miri and locked us up in the cell at Miri Central Police Station.

On 26th June 1997, they produced us before the Miri magistrate Court and applied for us to be released on bond to keep the peace for six months with two sureties in the sum of RM3000.00.

The Miri Magistrate, Monica Ayathi Litis then Ordered us to execute the said bond despite of our protest as we were innocence and the Land belongs to us and also that we refused to accept the oil palm plantation on our said Land. And further, the Police admitted in their application that ''it was difficult to charge us for any offence'' (which clearly shows we are totally innocence).

The Police accused us that we have criminally intimidated the Surveyors and are likely to do so if we are release hence the need to bind us to keep peace.

But as the Police themselves had admitted, there is no evidence to charge us for any offence. And most pertinently, they did not even produce the alleged Police report supposedly lodged by the Surveyors against us or call the Surveyors to come to the Court to testify to confirm whether or not we had indeed criminally intimated (and will do so after our release) the Surveyors.

Therefore the Police application and complaint against us was baseless and the order made by the Magistrate was completely unjustified. On the 27th June 1997 at about 4.00 pm, we were brought to prison here for detention which according to the Magistrate was because we failed to get sureties which is again not true.

There are more than enough sureties for us. But that is not the point here.

Our case is that it is simply wrong and most unfair for the Police to arrest, detain, assault us and then apply for the Order. And further, it is against all principle of justice for the Magistrate to make the said order against us.

And most important of all, it is very undemocratic and an abuse of our most basic human rights for the Sarawak government to systematically force harassed, intimidated, suppressed and sabotaged us to accept the oil palm plantation on our customary Land which is the only source of our livelihood.

Since our arrest and detention, some of us who are suffering from body pain that being beaten, kicked, punched and butting us with M16 rifles could not be able to have medical treatment as the Police purportedly denied their requests from obtaining medical/health treatment in the nearby hospital.

Worse still, our young children who are breast-fed have been left alone in our longhouse in the interior of Baram, which is about one hundred miles from this prison. This is because our husband are also here detained with us.

We know siblings are crying for our breast milk, our mother care every day and night not knowing where their parents are or what are happening to us here.

But to us, it is a very painful choice. Either we make some sacrifices by fighting to protect our land now or we just let the plantation company take it away from us which means we will have no more land to live on for the rest of our life and those of our generations to come.

And therefore we now appeal to all of you to urgently protest and appeal to the Malaysian and Sarawak governments to leave our land alone and also not to simply and very cruelly arrest and detain us like this.

We know our voice and protest alone will just be swept under the carpet by the Malaysian and Sarawak governments as has had happened in the arrests and detentions of our other indigenous brothers and sisters in similar protests previously. This is the reason we make this urgent appeal to you.

We sincerely are earnestly hope you will response to our appeal because if we lose our land that is the end for our community as we have nowhere to go to live.

We thank you for your support and we appreciate very much for any possible assistance or welfare-in-kind for our children and siblings while we are here in the prison.

Thank you.

Regards from the Prison,

Francis Anak Imban & 38 others.


For information contact:

GPO. LB23 - BN354

Tel / Fax : 60 85 438 580

Email :



Dear friends,


We continue to up date you regarding the arrest of the 42 natives from the Dayak Ibans longhouse communities in Sungai Bong area.

Below are the testimonies of the three Ibans regarding police brutality, violence and harassment at the time of the arrest on the afternoon of 25th June 1997. The three Ibans had been bailed by their family members to enable them to seek medical treatment as their health deteriorated. When they were under remand and at the prison, the three Ibans had requested a numerous of times from the police for medical treatment but they requests were continuously ignored.

The three are;

1) Tait Ak Barau

2) Alau Ak Ngira

3) Bugul Ak Ugap

We have made numerous requests from the police to obtain medical treatment during the entire period of our detention, i.e since 25th June but our requests were always rejected and denied by the police.

As our health condition getting worse, our relatives are force to arrange for our immediate released to seek medical attention. We felt sad to have left our 39 friends, relatives and siblings behind in the Prison.

Soon after we were released, we immediately lodged police report at Miri Police Station regarding the assault, violent and brutality of the police on many of us during the arrest.

We felt mental and physical stress for being threatened, beaten, kicked and punched. The Police threaten to shoot us with the M-16 machine gun pointed to our chest. We have cut / hurt on us as a result of that. Many of us were butted with their machine gun.

The 3 Ibans consulted a Doctor at Miri General Hospital in the evening on 28th June;

Tait Ak Barau, age 39 years old, told the Medical Officer that he feels uncomfortable ie fever, giddy / headache, body pain and feel pain on his left leg as being kicked by the PPF. He further told the M/O that the assault or the violent action by the police had caused him to sustain bruises, stress and weak. He was punched and kicked repeatedly and was painted unconsciously for quiet sometimes.

Alau Ak Ngira - age 27 years old complained that he was being assaulted, pointed with M-16 at his chest which caused cut and bleeding, hurt, bruises, swollen and serious body pain as well as chest pain. Felt very weak. He was treated or given pills and capsule.

Bugul Ak Ugap - 53 years old. Complaining that his abdomen was being stabbed with M-16 gun butt which caused serious pain in his stomach. His back was being beaten with gun barrel and that caused him unconscious and serious pain in his back/body. He feels weak and uncomfortable. He was treated and given pills / capsules upon his treatment.

We will inform you further on any eventuality arises from time to time.

Best regards




GPO. LB23-BN354



Tel/Fax : 60 85 438 580

Email :