Borneo natives extend anti-dam blockades ahead of key UN meeting on Malaysia
BRUNO MANSER FUND, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
23 October 2013
Two new blockades bar access to mega-dam construction site on the Baram river – 300 Penan continue Murum dam resettlement protest – Malaysia’s human rights record to be reviewed at the UN in Geneva tomorrow
(BARAM RIVER / MALAYSIA) Hundreds of indigenous people from the Baram district in the Malaysian part of Borneo are manning two road blockades erected today to prevent the construction of a planned mega-dam. According to community information received today, one blockade has been erected near Long Lama, a small town on the shores of the Baram river. A second blockade has been set up near the proposed dam site.
The native landowners demand the immediate halt to all planning and construction works at the Baram dam and its access road. The Baram dam is being planned by state-owned Malaysian energy provider Sarawak Energy (SEB). The blockade sites have been chosen strategically to prevent Sarawak Energy from transporting machineries and construction equipment to the planned dam site. “It is unacceptable that any works should commence before an Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) has been carried out”, said Peter Kallang, spokesperson for Sarawak’s SAVE Rivers Network.
The Baram natives – Kayan, Kenyah and Penan – call on all employees of Sarawak Energy and its contractors to stop their work for the planned dam and to leave the Baram district. The natives have installed camps near the blockades and are determined to stay as long as necessary to protect their ancestral lands and their rights. The construction of the access road is on going and workers in the area have already started with preparatory works for the dam such as quarrying. The planned dam would displace up to 20,000 people and submerge a rainforest area of over 400km2.
The latest blockades add pressure on the Malaysian government ahead of a key UN meeting in Geneva. Malaysia’s human rights records will be discussed tomorrow by the Human Rights Council on the occasion of a country review. Already since 17 September, 300 Penan have been protesting against their resettlement caused by the construction of the Murum dam, another project by Sarawak Energy.
Map showing the proposed site for the Baram Dam as well as the flood area and the on-going blockades.
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