Twenty three arrested and held while devastation wrought
On 20th November 2006, 62 houses in Kampung Berembang, a village near Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, were brutally demolished and burned down by local authorities under the instructions of the Selangor state government. The police force was used to inhumanly arrest and assault the people as well as activists from the PSM (Socialist Party of Malaysia) and JERIT (Oppressed People’s Network).
Twenty three social activists and residents were arrested and held while the operation of mass destruction was carried out. They have been released, but a trial is pending trial. This ruthless act of the police has resulted in one woman being in a very critical condition, fighting for her life in hospital.
It is all the more despicable that this unscrupulous act took place even though the prime minister’s department had earlier instructed the state government to halt the demolition of the houses, given that the case of this village is still pending in the courts.
Now around 500 people are left as refugees in their own land; they have lived in that village for more than 30 years. “This is inhuman. They did not think how it would affect our children…there has been no help at all. We have nothing. If it rains at night, we will have to sleep in the rain,” thundered Jamat Harun, who has been living in the village for 32 years.
Invited in as workers and hounded out like animals after 30 years of honest labour
In the 1960s, these people were invited by the government from rural areas to work in industry in urban areas. At the same time, the state encouraged them to build houses on government reserved lands. Subsequently it legitimised the existence of these ‘urban pioneers’ by installing water, electricity and other facilities to their villages.
But now, when the same land is needed for the development of mega projects by big companies which normally have links with the government, the people who have been contributing to the development of industry and the nation’s reputation are simply labelled as ‘squatters’ and evicted without appropriate compensation or decent alternative housing.
The Selangor state government has used Emergency Ordinance 1969 to clear all these families from the land, just because they want to make big money from new land deals. This is an atrocious example of what is going on all the time – profit before people. In this latest case, the lives of 500 people have been devastated and their homes smashed to the ground.
A full report about the incident can be found on the PSM web-site: www.parti-sosialis.org.
In order to condemn this vicious act of the Malaysian government and uphold the rights of the people in the village, we urge all socialists and activists to send protest letters like the one below to the Malaysian government.
Letter of protest
To the Prime Minister of Malaysia/ Minister of Housing and Local Government
I/We are from ……….. and condemn the brutal act of the State Government of Selangor under Chief Minister Mohamed Khir Toyo on 20th November 2006 which brutally demolished the houses of Kampung Berembang where 500 people have been living for more than 30 years.
This inhuman act goes against fundamental human rights and the basic right to shelter. We have also learned that the state government used the police force and local government authority to brutallly arrest and assault the people and social activists who were trying to defend them. One woman was left in a very critical condition, fighting for her life in hospital.
It is very obvious that this inhuman act undermines the fundamental rights of the people, even though the prime minister’s department had given instructions to halt the planned demolition given that the case is still in the courts. The representative of the Human Rights Commission (SUHAKAM), Dato Siva Subramaniam, who was there at that time, had also instructed the local government authorities to stop the demolition.
We are very much alarmed with this vicious attack and the inability of the government of Malaysia to stop the demolition. Its instruction to the state government to halt the demolition operation was wilfully ignored and belittled.
This incident at Kampung Berembang clearly shows the lack of credibility of the Malaysian government in claiming to defend the rights of ordinary working and poor people. This is also undermining the democratic and human rights of workers and the ordinary people.
We therefore strongly condemn this brutality and urge the Malaysian government to:
- Investigate this abuse of power in Selangor state by the police force, the local authorities, the developer of Kampung Berembang and the Chief Minister of Selangor in this brutal and inhuman act in Kampung Brembang which is against fundamental human and democratic rights
- Stop police the brutality against social activists and ordinary people. Drop the police charges against 23 social activists and residents of Kampung Berembang who were merely acting to defend the fundamental right of all ordinary people to housing.
- Compensate in full the cost of all the damage that has been done by the state government to the people of Kampung Berembang through the brutal act of house demolitions.
- Provide Kampung Berembang residents with proper housing with all basic utilities until decent alternate houses are built. All disputes should be settled by proper negotiations, not by inhuman and uncivilised acts.
The Malaysian government has been promoting Malaysia in the eyes of the world as a democratic and harmonious country through the ‘Visit Malaysia 2007’ campaign. We anticipate that the Malaysian government will act fast to clear the tarnishing of their image created by this incident and the actions of the Chief Minister of Selangor.
We will step up the campaign against this brutal and uncivilised act in Malaysia if the Malaysian government fails to take action against the immoral act of the state government of Selangor and uphold the rights of Kampung Berembang residents.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi,
Prime Minister of Malaysia
Pejabat Perdana Menteri,
Bangunan Perdana Putra,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan,
Tel: 603-8888 8000.
Fax: 603-8888 3444
Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting (Housing Minister)
Kementerian Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan,
Pusat Bandar Damansara,
50782 Kuala Lumpur,
Tel: 603-2094 7033
Fax: 603-2094 9720
Ampang, 20 November 2006
Pictures on the PMS website. Opens in new window.