Police dismantle Penan logging blockade, again.

Police dismantle Penan logging blockade, again.

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April 13, 2007

Malaysian Police in Sarawak have once again removed the blockade set up by the Penan People. You may recall the blockade was rebuilt a few weeks ago, after it was initially torn down on Feb 7.

From BMF: The police used chainsaws to dismantle the blockade and set the logs on fire, the community reported. Timber company workers of Samling, a controversial Malaysian timber company, were also present at the site. “The police and the company workers were very rude and did not negotiate with us”, a Penan spokesman said.”We couldn’t do anything because we heard the police firing gunshots which made the situation really dangerous to us.” (source)

Some background from Survival International:

Since the 1970s, all the tribal peoples of Sarawak have had their land taken to make way for logging, dam construction and oil palm plantations – driving them into towns where they are reduced to abject poverty. The Penan have been told by the government that they have no rights to land at all until they ‘settle down’ or start farming. The logging industry has a particularly devastating impact. The Malaysian government claims that Sarawak is being logged sustainably – but in fact its forests are being destroyed at one of the fastest rates in the world. As the forests are logged, the rivers are silted up, killing the fish. The game is being scared deeper into the few remaining forests. Since 1987, the Penan have been fighting back by blockading the logging roads – and suffering acute food shortages as a result. Many Penan have been arrested for holding these peaceful blockades but finally they are starting to see some results. Some of the companies are now agreeing not to log Penan forest, but the Penan need to stay vigilant as many such promises have been broken.

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