Saturday, March 17, 2012

6,000 Swiss sign anti-dam petition

Joseph Tawie

March 16, 2012
Malaysia and Swiss activists protested outside the UN office in Geneva against Sarawak's plan to build 12 hydro-electric dams.
KUCHING: Sarawak PKR chief Baru Bian has thrown his support behind a global effort by environmental activists from Switzerland and Malaysia to protest to the United Nations against the Sarawak government’s plans to construct 12 hydro-electric dams.
Bian, who is the Ba’Kelalan assemblyman, was responding to the efforts of activists to handover a petition bearing 6,000 signatures to the Malaysian representative to the United Nations. The petition called for a halt to the dam plans.
Thanking the Swiss people for their support, Bian said: “We give 100% support to the efforts of both the international environmental activists and their Malaysian counter-parts to pressure the state government of Sarawak and Malaysia to halt the dam construction.
“The Pakatan Rakyat’s policy is to condemn the 12 dams construction. The Bakun dam itself is already enough as it has destroyed thousands of acres of native customary rights land, displaced thousands of native people and their homes.
“Therefore, any action or plan trying to stop the dam construction, we will give 100% support,” he said, pointing out that he would institute a legal action against the government for the construction of dams in Lawas and Limbang.
“I have been advised by the people to take legal action against the government over the two dams,” he added.
Forced displacement of natives
Earlier today, in Geneva, environmental activists from Switzerland and Malaysia gathered in front of the UN seat at Geneva’s Place des Nations to protest against plans to construct the 12 hydro-electrical dams in Sarawak.
Following the rally they gave the petition bearing 6,000 signatures from Swiss citizens calling for a halt the dam plans.
The Geneva action followed a similar protest held yesterday by indigenous communities in Sarawak to mark the International Action Day for Rivers.
In a press statement, the Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) sharply criticized the lack of transparency of the Malaysian dam plans which will cause the forced displacement of tens of thousands of indigenous people and irreversibly destroy hundreds of square kilometres of tropical forests.
“These dam plans amount to a serious breach of the affected communities’ human rights and would destroy their river-based culture.
“It is shocking to see that corruption and not a true energy demand is the main driver behind these projects,” the BMF statement said.
Malaysia recently completed the 2,400 MW Bakun mega dam, Asia’s largest dam outside China.
The BMF called on the international community to pressure Malaysia to halt all further dam projects on Borneo.
[Photo from Bruno Manser Fund]
~ Free Malaysia Today

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