Penan chiefs protest against French ACCOR Group's cooperation with Borneo loggers
Twenty-seven Penan community leaders from the Baram region of Sarawak (East Malaysia) have sent a letter to Gilles Pélisson, CEO of Europe's leading hotel chain ACCOR. The Penan are protesting at the French group's cooperation with Interhill, a Malaysian logging group that has become notorious for its destructive logging of Sarawak's tropical rainforests.
The Penan are urging ACCOR CEO Pélisson to ensure that his group "will stop supporting Interhill Logging, as all the timber is stolen from our land and is not harvested sustainably." The letter, which has been released by the Swiss Bruno Manser Fund today, is signed by thumb prints and signatures of 77 Penan representatives, including 27 community chiefs.
"Interhill is extracting timber from our forests against our declared will and without our consent", the Penan leaders write. "Without our forest, we, the Penan, cannot survive."
The Penan argue that Interhill Logging has polluted their rivers and has failed to respect their customs and traditions. "This is why we have started to map our land and will soon file a court case against Interhill (...)."
ACCOR has recently come under fire over its cooperation with the notorious Malaysian loggers in the Novotel Interhill hotel project, a 388-room hotel complex, which is currently under construction in Sarawak's state capital Kuching.
According to ACCOR, Interhill has agreed to comply with social responsibility standards. However, the Penan are reporting that, so far, no progress has been achieved for their communities: "Many of us are affected by severe health problems due to logging and have suffered because we have lost our fishing grounds and hunting has become much more difficult."
(27 April 2009)
Link to the Penan letter to ACCOR: [L=stop-interhill.com/resources]stop-interhill.com/resources