Penan stage blockade against Malaysian Interhill group
Picture: Penan headman from Sarawak's Middle Baram region are protesting against Interhill's activities. (Copyright: BMF)
Penan communities from the Middle Baram area of Sarawak (East Malaysia) are staging a blockade against the Malaysian Interhill logging company in order to prevent the destruction of their last remaining rainforests. The blockade was organized by the communities after negotiations with Interhill representatives at the company's timber camp failed to bear fruit.
"We are asking Interhill to respect our Native Customary Rights and to stop logging our remaining primary forests", a Penan spokesman said. The Bruno Manser Fund has learned that the blockade is being organized jointly by representatives from the Penan communities of Ba Abang, Long Item, Long Kawi and Long Pakan. A similar blockade was erected by the Middle Baram communities in June 2006 but was dismantled by the police after two weeks.
The blockade comes shortly after Penan women launched a cry of alarm to the international community over cases of sexual abuse and violence by logging company workers in their region. The Penan have traditionally been living in Borneo's rainforest as nomadic hunter-gatherers and have only recently become settled. They still depend to a large extent on the rainforest for their livelihood.
Interhill is a Malaysian logging company with its headquarters in Miri / Sarawak. The company has been logging primary rainforests since the 1970s and has reinvested its profits in the construction sector. Currently, the company is constructing the Novotel Interhill Kuching, a 388-room hotel in Sarawak's capital, which will be managed by the French Accor Group.
(7 October 2008)