Wednesday, 22 July 2009

New Penan blockades as anti-logging protests flare up again

Wednesday July 22, 2009 The Star, Malaysia


MIRI: Anti-logging protests have flared up again in the interior jungles of northern Sarawak where the semi-nomadic Penans live.

Two incidents of timber blockades have occurred in the Ulu Baram district, one in the upper reaches near Long Lama Village, some 300km from here, and another near Long Paloh in the middle region of the district, some 100km from Marudi town.

Sources told The Star yesterday that police in Long Lama and Marudi received reports about anti-logging protests by the Penans and have visited the sites.

No arrest has been made.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) field officer for Sarawak Jok Jau Evong confirmed yesterday that his office had received information from the Penans in the two areas that blockades were erected across roads used by loggers to transport heavy machinery into the jungles and access roads used to ferry logs out of the jungles.

He said there were 40 Penans staging a protest in Ba’Marong, a Penan settlement on a tributary of Sungai Tutoh, which is three hours journey by timber road from Long Lama.

“The Penan chief there, Sagung Nyipa, said the Penans from Long Nen village are also joining in the protest,” he said.

“The other protest is in Long Paloh, upstream of Sungai Patah. There are about 30 Penan men, women and children at this blockade site.

The protest in Ba’Marong is against logging operations being carried out by a Sibu-based timber consortium while the one in Long Paloh is against a Miri-based timber giant.

The protests have been peaceful.

The two private companies are also involved in property construction, road construction, oil palm projects and heavy industrial projects throughout Sarawak.

“The Penan chiefs told us that they have no choice but to resort to the blockades to stop the logging,” Jok said.

This is because their land rights have been violated and their daily source of food and water have also been destroyed.

He added that the forest reserves in Long Paloh are the last remaining forests for the Penans in that region.