Thursday, November 14, 2013

Misery in Murum

Alfian ZM Tahir

November 14, 2013
Displaced Penans say they are thirsty, hungry and have no protection from severe weather.
PETALING JAYA: Three hundred Penan families displaced by the ongoing construction of Murum Dam are living in desperate circumstances as they battle for justice.
They have no access to clean water and decent food, and their tents, constructed from tree branches and tarpaulin, are ineffective against heavy rain.
They come from four different villages in Murum and they claim that the Sarawak government promised them an attractive compensation package to extract an agreement from them to move out.
A woman in her 70s said in a recent press interview that each family was promised RM500,000 and a house.
“But now we know they lied,” she said.
“Look at our condition here. We have no water and no food. At night, there are too many mosquitoes. How are the kids going to sleep? We are human beings, not monkeys or dogs.
“The state fooled us. They grabbed our land. No state official has come to meet us to talk about what is going on.”
“Taib lied to us,” she said in reference to Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.
The villagers have set up a blockade near the dam in an effort to stop the construction.
“They took our land away from us and that is why we are doing our best to stop the construction,” said a man in his 20s.
“Sometimes riot police will show up to chase us away, but we will not stop.”
On Tuesday, FMT quoted Penan protestors as claiming that policemen who harassed them were drunk.
The police officers stationed in the area were allegedly being provided alcohol by the dam’s main contractors, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB).
Police have meanwhile released the 10 people they arrested last week when they tried to break a blockade obstructing the route to the Murum project site.
The protests have been going on for months. SEB workers have fled from the site, bringing all work to a standstill.

[photos courtesy Baram Kini]
~ Free Malaysia Today

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