Bruno Manser Fonds
Timber-Road-Blockade built up
Penans blockade Baram timber land
The Star, Tuesday, June 22th, 1999
MIRI: More than 50 men, women and children from the Penan community in the remote interior of Baram in northern Sarawak have staged a timber blockade near their settlement to protest logging operations conducted by two private companies here.
The blockade is being manned all day and night along a dusty timber track used by the companies to extract timber from the area, said Ajang Kiew, the Penan Chief of Long Sayan.
According to him, the blockade is to protest operations in areas claimed by the Penans as traditional native land.
Lajong Lumber Sdn Bhd and Interhill Sdn Bhd have timber operations in the disputed areas.
Ajang said the Penans had tried to appeal to the companies not to continue logging activities at the affected areas but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
He said a series of talks with representatives of the companies had reached a deadlock and the blockade was a last resort.
Ajang claimed that the companies had violated the traditional rights of the Penans and had conducted logging activities in jungles which had been the main source of food for the community.
He said the companies had failed to heed their pleas for fair compensation and had conducted timber extractions without consulting or informing the people in the area.
A similar timber blockade was set up in the disputed areas earlier this year but the issue was resolved following intervention by officials from the Marudi district.
Several police officers have gone to the disputed territories to try to settle the matter.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer Thomas Jalong described the Penans' actions as a desperate attempt to protect their rights.
He appealed to the police and the authorities to look into the plight of the protesters and to exercise restraint instead of arresting them.
He appealed to the companies concerned to respect the locals' rights over their land and to reach a fair settlement with the Penans.
June 17th, 1999 - Latest News
In Sarawak's up-river Apoh/Tutoh area a blockade set up by Penan, organised by the headman of Long Sayan TK Ajeng Kiew.
The blockade was started on June 14th, 1999. In the first two days no Police yet arrived at the site. However timber workers are going there to ask the Penan to dismantal the blockade.
We will inform you about this latest effort of the Penan-peoples in their struggle to defend their territories against logging-companies, which are plundering and destroying the last remaining virgin-forests, the Penan fully depend on.