Kin Of Violated NCR Grave Fight Back

Angko and Bagong were stunned as they watched they graves of their relatives and eight generations of ancestors being bulldozed as the land was cleared for oil palm seedling planting. Read more below about how these native people are fighting back in court against these grave injustices.

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KUCHING: Two fuming relatives are taking an oil palm company to court for destroying jars containing their families’ remains which were buried on their native customary rights (NCR) burial grounds.

Bagong Ujau and Angko Raga from San Demam, Sri Aman have submitted all the relevant documents to their lawyers.

In a statement issued last Saturday through Sarawak DAP vice chairman Leon Jimat Donald, the duo said they want “ to enforce heavy penalties for this sacrilegious action that this company had done to their ancestors’ burial grounds.”

“Having met the Land & Survey enforcement officers earlier this week, it was ascertained that the superintendent of Land & Survey has confirmed (that) the burial area of Angko and Bagong is indeed NCR (native customary rights) land and not only that it is a burial area,” said Bagong.

The case came to light a few weeks ago when hundreds of ancient burial jars containing ancestral remains, known locally as ‘tajaus’, some of them 200 years old, were reportedly destroyed by contractors clearing NCR land at Empelam, Engkilili district in Sri Aman division.

Angko and Bagong said they were stunned to see the graves of their relatives and ancestors being bulldozed without respect for their customs.

The former also alleged that a ‘tuai rumah’ (longhouse headman) had approved the earth-clearing works on the ancient burial ground by the oil palm company.

The ‘tajaus’ destroyed included those of Angko and Bagong’s deceased relatives and ancestors, and both had lodged a police report over the matter.

However, more than a week later, both were shocked to see the cemetery area had been completely cleared and most of the jars were missing, despite having ordered for the cessation of work.

ncrgrave2No respect for the dead

The plot was instead prepared for oil palm seedling planting, and both relatives were informed that the tuai rumah and his men had moved the jars to another place.

“Last week there was still jungle here but today it’s just a waste land and my mother’s grave defiled beyond recognition,” said Bagong, who also mentioned his father, grandparents, great-grandparents and ancestors as far as eight generations were buried at the site.

Leon visited the site last week in reaction to the exposure of the matter through the media, and during the visit, the affected descendants and relatives have expressed their disappointment over the related authorities’ lack of response over the issue.

“If the claims are true, I would like to plead with the relevant authorities to immediately take action against the perpetrators as these people have lost all sense of decency and morality.

“They have no respect for the dead and only interested in profits. The company should also have stopped work in the area.

“They must stop all clearing work if they have any morality,” Leon had said during his visit.

Last month in an immediate reaction to reports of the desecration of the burial grounds, Leon who is also Sri Aman branch chief said it was a “blatant abuse power by the tuai rumah and the absolute disrespect of the contractors in ignoring the NCR lands and the ancient cemetery’”

He then called the police to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice and promised to write to the local district officer and resident division officer.