Malaysia: Protect Indigenous land rights advocates

On 29 November, Amnesty International published a report on the precarious situation of Indigenous peoples in Malaysia and supporters of their land rights. Titled “The Forest is Our Heartbeat”: The struggle to defend Indigenous land in Malaysia , the report demonstrated the grave human rights violations that Indigenous communities and their advocates face when asserting their land rights.

They have been harassed, intimidated, and physically attacked by armed individuals, and arbitrarily arrested by the Malaysian police. Their communities and land are not recognised or protected by federal and state governments.

The Malaysian government has promised, in its manifesto for the May 2018 general elections, to take steps to address Indigenous peoples’ land rights. These include recognizing their customary land and protecting them in land development schemes. However, the report by Amnesty International highlights that much more needs to be done.

Help us put pressure on the Malaysian government to respect, fulfil, and promote Indigenous land rights; protect Indigenous peoples and land rights advocates against harassment and intimidation; and investigate past cases of attacks and threats against them.

demand better protection for indigenous land rights defenders.

sign the petition.

Urge the Malaysian government to:

  • Ensure that advocates for Indigenous land rights are free from harassment and discrimination, so they can safely conduct their important work.
  • Promptly and fairly investigate attacks and threats against Indigenous peoples and their supporters, and penalise those responsible without using the death penalty.
  • Refrain from using language that disparages or discriminates against land rights advocates, including characterizing them as “instigators”, “anti-development”, or “criminals”.
  • Invite the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders to carry out a fact-finding mission and facilitate the visit of the Special Rapporteur on Indigenous peoples.
  • Upon consulting Indigenous peoples, create a law requiring Indigenous peoples’ free, prior and informed consent when developing ancestral lands.
  • Launch a national awareness campaign – developed with Indigenous – on the work of land rights advocates.
  • Train public officials, especially those responsible for Indigenous peoples’ land rights, on the international framework on human rights defenders.
  • Establish an Independent National Commission on Indigenous Peoples’ Land Rights that will identify and provide titles to native customary lands.