from Bruno Manser Fonds
27 August 2009
High-ranking Sarawak government delegation on the way to Penan villages – Meeting over blockades to take place tomorrow
Native Penan leaders from the East Malaysian state of Sarawak are refusing to meet a high-ranking Sarawak government delegation at the proposed meeting point in Long Bedian, a Kayan long-house in the Tutoh river region. According to Penan sources, the meeting is to take place tomorrow, 28 August 2009.
“We are open for talks with the government, but we refuse the proposed meeting point at Long Bedian”, a Penan spokesperson commented to BMF. The Penan feel humiliated by a statement of Abang Johari, the former Sarawak Minister of Penan affairs and current Minister of Housing, who alleged in The Borneo Post that foreigners were behind the logging road blockades.
“We expect the official delegation to meet us at the blockade sites or at a Penan village. It is essential for the officials to see the dire situation of our villages with their own eyes and to hear the voices of our people.”
Long Bedian, a Kayan long-house, is a regional centre for the Apoh-Tutoh region, which is strongly influenced by the presence of several logging companies.
A week ago, the Penan set up three blockades at strategic logging road locations to prevent vehicles of four logging companies – Samling, Shin Yang, KTS and Interhill – from removing timber from their native lands. In particular, the Penan aim at stopping plantation projects that would involve the conversion of large tracts of secondary forests into oil palm, acacia and eucalyptus plantations.
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