Penan re-erect road block against Samling corporation

Penan re-erect road block against Samling corporation

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John Ahni Schertow
March 25, 2007
 

Penan re-erect road block against Samling corporation
Bruno Manser Fonds, www.bmf.ch
March 15, 2006

Members of the Penan tribe, who live in the rainforests of the Malaysian state of Sarawak, have re-erected a road block in protest against logging activities by the Malaysian Samling corporation. This was reported by Penan sources today. The community action took place near Long Benali in the Upper Baram region of Sarawak one month after the Malaysian police cleared a near-by roadblock set up by villagers of the same community.

The Long Benali road block is situated at a strategic location because the community is the entry point to one of the last contiguous pristine rainforest areas of Sarawak. More than ninety percent of Sarawak´s rainforests have already been logged as a consequence of an environmentally destructive and short-sighted local government policy. Sarawak´s forestry policies are widely criticized for failing to live up to international sustainability standards.

The Samling Group, one of Malaysia´s largest logging companies, has recently been listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange with support from Credit Suisse, HSBC and Macquarie Securities. The three banks´ services to Samling have drawn the criticism of 37 non-governmental organizations from 18 countries who called on investors and banks to shun Samling.

Credit Suisse denies that its leading role in the Samling listing is a breach of its Sustainability Policy. HSBC, whose forest sector guidelines exclude financial services to commercial logging operations in primary tropical rainforests, declined to answer specific questions raised in an NGO letter addressing the issue. Both banks are signatories to the Equator Principles, which establish social and environmental standards for project finance.

(source)

 

Penan tell Human Rights Commission: Blockade to continue
By Tony Thien, Malaysiakini
March 16, 2007

Attempts have been made to remove their blockade but the Penans are not budging. They declared that they will continue to block the road in order to protect their ancestral land.

This was the message the Penan community at Long Benalih in Ulu Baram, Sarawak, delivered to Suhakam commissioners and officials during a dialogue in Miri on Wednesday.

They said they are determined to continue with their road blockade to try and stop logging on their ancestral land inspite of recent action taken by a timber company with the support of police to forcibly remove the blockade.

“They want to log on our land. We will not allow that. The blockade will be up again if the situation warrants,” the Penan delegation told Suhakam.

The government can, however, construct an alternative road access to the villages but not the logging company as their only interest is to take the timber, Suhakam was told.

Exercising our rights

The blockade at Long Benalih was dismantled by the authorities recently. The Penans claimed the dismantling was done without their knowledge and consent, and they were very upset by it.

“We do not oppose the government or development. The blockade is necessary and we are merely exercising our rights to the land, and the majority of our tribe support the blockade and oppose logging in our area,” they told Suhakam.

During the dialogue, the Penans also refuted allegations that non-governmental organisations (NGOs) were behind them or instigated them in setting up the road blockade.

Suhakam fact-finding chairperson Dr Dension Jayasooria said a report would be tabled to the full commission meeting.

He said there were ‘gaps’ and ‘contradictions’ obtained after the dialogue sessions with the Miri Resident Office, the logging companies and the Penans.

“The authorities said a lot of dialogues were held but the Penans said there was no such discussion at all,” he said, adding that “the situation calls for meaningful dialogues and discussion, and that the state government should do more to win the hearts and minds of the Penans”.

(source)

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