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Mustafa Along

Mustafa Along

HRD, Chairman
Indigenous People’s Network of Kelantan (JKOAK)

We want to block any activity that would destroy the environment … We are facing many problems now as a result of the forests being destroyed, including global warming. This is not just an Indigenous People issue, it’s a problem that affects the rest of the world, too.

Mustafa Along is an indigenous rights defender and environmental activist. He is the chairman and founder of the Indigenous People’s Network of Kelantan (JKOAK), a grassroots movement that has mobilized thousands of villagers to fight for their native customary lands against logging, mining, plantation corporations and the state government of Kelantan. Since 2015, Mustafa has been instrumental in sustaining the indigenous people’s blockades to protect the forests in these lands, their villages and way of life. On the legal front, he has led the charge against the Kelantan state government to demand land rights for the local indigenous people. Mustafa has been arrested several times and is currently facing multiple lawsuits by corporations in response to JKOAK’s blockade activities. He has been harassed, threatened with violence and has even received death threats for his efforts to protect his people’s ancestral lands.

In Malaysia, the country's monolithic Barisan Nasional has ruled for 60 years. Prime Minister Najib Razak’s rise to power was characterized by an increased repression of civil society and human rights defenders and a lockdown on public debate. Authorities intensified their crackdown on anti-corruption protesters in the wake of embezzlement allegations involving top politicians. Authorities have also used censorship legislation to silence debate on human rights issues. As of October 2017, the government has yet to accept requests by the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders to visit the country.