Penan step up campaign to defend Heart of Borneo nature reserve
"We are prepared to fight for our forests": Penan representatives of Sarawak's Upper Baram region.
LONG SABAI, SARAWAK / MALAYSIA. Penan natives from Sarawak's Upper Baram region in the Malaysian part of Borneo have erected two logging road blockades to prevent their last remaining virgin jungle from being logged by the Samling Group, a Malaysian timber giant.
The blockades have been erected at two strategical locations on logging roads near the Penan villages of Long Sabai and Ba Kerameu on the upper reaches of the Akah river. According to community sources, surveyors of the Samling corporation had repeatedly been asked by villagers of Long Sabai to stop working on the Penan' s native lands but had refused to do so. As a consequence, the villagers erected two blockades that have been in place since 24 March and 31 March respectively.
Aya Luding, a spokesman for the Long Sabai community, said: "We know that we are weaker than the Samling bulldozers. But we are determined to fight for our next generation because we cannot survive without the forest. If we let the company in and do some logging, they will want to take all of our forest."
Last November, seventeen Penan communities of the Upper Baram region had declared their native lands a self-administered nature reserve. The "Penan Peace Park" covers an area of 163,000 hectares of high conservation value rainforest and traditionally used agricultural land near the international border between Malaysia and Indonesia.
(6 April 2010)