Bruno Manser Fonds
Sarawak, August 2000
INTERNATIONAL APPEAL TO SUPPORT PENAN PLIGHT IN SARAWAKBY SAHABAT ALAM MALAYSIA
Please send supporting letters
Penans Protest Against Logging in River Apoh/Tutoh in Baram Region
More than hundred semi-settled Penans comprising men and women from various Penan settlements living in the interior area of Sungai Apoh/Tutoh in the Baram region, Sarawak, East Malaysia, gathered at Long Kevok to stage a non-violent protest against on-going logging activities in their communal lands and forests.
The Penan tribe is known to be a peace loving community and their numbers are fast dwindling, with only about 9,000 of them left in the Sarawak interior.
On 11th August 2000, the Penan community form the Apoh/Tutoh settlements erected a wooden barricade on a logging road belonging to Lajung Lumber Sdn. Bhd., a subsidiary company of Rimbunan Hijau Sdn. Bhd., Shin Yang Sdn. Bhd, and Raywood Sdn. Bhd.
The blockade was set up to stop the logging companies from freely transporting and extracting timbers from their forest areas in the upper Sungai Apoh/Tutoh.
They resorted to this action after the companies continued to ignore their rights of access to their natural forest resources. Their numerous complaints to the authorities and the logging companies regarding their claims to the forest resources and the problems caused by logging have fallen on deaf ears. Having no other alternative and being compelled to bring attention to their plight, the Penan natives have resorted to staging this protest, which is still continuing.
Some of their grievances are as follows:
Both companies Rimbunan Hijau and Shin Yang acted very arrogantly in relation to their claims. They have simply bulldozed their planted fruit trees and grave-yards without paying anything for the losses and damage that they have suffered.
They also do not render any assistance to the Penan community who seek their help to send those who are ill to the nearest clinic in Long Bedian in cases of emergency.
The companies simply encroached into their Communal Forest Reserves and carry out logging activities here, without any consultation and consideration for their source of livelihood.
The Penan protestors at the blockade claim that the road blockade is their way to call on the companies representatives to come and meet with them to listen to their problems. Otherwise, the companies ignore their plight.
The Penan community will continue with the blockade until their problems are resolved and they receive assurances from higher authorities.
Police sent to protest site
Four police-men from the Marudi Police Station and one person from Long Lama Police Station were sent to the blockade site on the 13 of August. So far, no arrests have taken place.
The photographs enclosed were taken on the first day of the blockade, 11th August, and the group photograph only shows small groups of Penans gathered at the blockade site because some of them turned up at the blockade site on the following day, on August 12.
This report was received by the SAM office in Marudi when 4 members from the Penan tribe came to inform us on August 15, 2000. These natives are returning to the blockade site this morning to join the protests.
Kindly send your letters of support to the following persons urging them to exercise restraint in dealing with the Penans at the blockade site. Urge them to address the problems of these natives who are struggling for their livelihood and who ask the logging companies to respect their Native Customary Rights (NCR) to the forest resources and their sacred sites.
The Penans appeal to the concerned logging companies and the responsible authorities: