Investigations on the Penan rape casesPosted: November 22, 2008
From Malaysiakini HERE.
Prominent anthropologist and activist Colin Nicholas yesterday assisted police in their investigations into the alleged sexual abuse of Penan women by logging company workers.
Nicholas said he was contacted by police three days ago, ordering him to come to the Bukit Aman police headquarters at 3.30pm yesterday.
“They asked me if I knew people from the (Swiss non-governmental organisation) Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) and asked me for the contact details of my Penan friends but I did not give them (the details),” he told Malaysiakini via telephone yesterday.
Nicholas said the allegations of sexual abuse surfaced in 1994 when seven NGOs embarked on a fact finding mission in Sarawak after their counterparts in the state – who had received complaints of rights abuses from the Penan people – had asked for assistance.
Representatives from the NGOs, including Nicholas, then held a press conference to reveal their findings and claimed that there had been various cases of sexual abuse of Penan women by logging company workers.
“The police also asked me about the press conference, but the case was in 1994 and we have already lodged police reports over the matter. The case has only now been handed over to the Attorney-General’s office,” he added.
Nicholas said the procrastination in launching an investigation and the slow response of the authorities has been very disappointing.
First, I’m glad that there are investigations being carried out. This has been a long time overdue, seeing as how the allegations were initially being rubbished and denied, and claims by officials that investigations would be a ‘waste of time’.
What is happening now should not stop at this stage. The authorities have to take this to the next level, which is to ascertain the claims, and to do justice.
To me, it’s not about ‘saving face’, or to menjaga nama baik Sarawak, because these allegations, true or false, do not paint Sarawak in good light. The only way to memulihkan nama baik Sarawak and Malaysia is to carry out thorough investigations and put an end to all this.
If there were indeed rape crimes, identify the culprits and send them to court. This will show that Malaysia puts justice above making money out of logging. If there were no such crimes, expose the lies, and show us a transparent investigation.
Just because the rape crimes were not reported by the victims themselves does not mean that they did not happen. It’s the same like a neighbour reporting a case of child abuse, without the child initiating the police report. The police, in such cases, has a responsibility to get to the bottom of it, and either detain the culprit, or reprimand the liar.
Be transparent about the investigations. Show us that this is not another case that gets swept under the carpet.