VICTORY: Malaysian Logging Blockade Successfully Maintained

TAKE ACTION: Continue to stand with the Penan as they protect their last large contiguous rainforest lands (updated)
EcoInternet's Earth Action Network has yet again contributed to the successful defense of rainforests and their indigenous inhabitants. As our recent alert asked, based upon information from “Bruno Manser Fonds”, Malaysian authorities have refrained from dismantling a logging road blockade set up by the Penan tribe in the interior of Borneo. The two year old blockade seeks to protect one of Sarawak's last virgin jungle areas from logging. Riot police had massed to smash the blockade and arrest protestors, when our barrage of hundreds of thousands of protest emails hit – along with the protest efforts of many others. The blockade and rainforests still stand, and violence has been averted, and this is a victory.

Until such time as humanity learns to live sustainably no rainforests are ever truly saved. Yet we must soldier on as the Penan have for decades, and celebrate progress that is made. Congratulations to all that participated. The update below quotes the Penan headman as saying “Thank you for your support. Please don’t forget us now… We are very proud to hear that so many people are on our side. This is strong encouragement for us to continue our struggle.”
I have updated the original alert to commend Malaysian authorities for their restraint and to request that the Penan's last rainforested customary native lands be permanently protected and their land tenure permanently respected. Unless we remain vigilant the blockade may yet be broken and bogus “certified” logging of much of the last 10% of Sarawak's ancient rainforests occur. The Penan communities are protecting their last contiguous rainforests from logging. Please take action and stand with them now.
Title: Rainforest dwellers successfully maintain logging road blockade in one of Malaysia’s last virgin jungle areas
Date: August 14, 2006
Thanks to a wave of international protests, the Malaysian authorities refrained from dismantling a logging road blockade set up by the Penan tribe in the interior of Borneo.
For more than two years, the Penan community of Long Benali (Miri division, Sarawak) has successfully prevented the bulldozers of the Samling group from encroaching onto their native customary lands. The unmanned blockade was set up on 10 February 2004 to protect one of Sarawak’s last virgin jungle areas from logging. After timber company workers had dismantled a similar, newly established Penan blockade further downriver in June 2006, local authorities announced they would dismantle the Long Benali blockade by mid-July and brought specially trained police units into the area. However, the local community renewed the existing roadblock and appealed to the international public for support.
Penan headman: “Thank you for your support. Please don’t forget us now.”
Several international NGOs responded to the Penan’s cry for help and encouraged their members to send thousands of protest e-mails and letters to the Malaysian authorities and the appropriate logging companies. Particularly the US-based organizations, and Global Response, as well as the UK-based Forest Peoples Programme and Survival International endorsed the Penan’s appeal. Headman Sound Bujang of Long Benali expressed his appreciation for the international support: ”We are very proud to hear that so many people are on our side. This is strong encouragement for us to continue our struggle.”
Despite the temporary success, the Penan of Long Benali are afraid of what might happen in the coming months and are asking the international public not to forget them. They report that members of the neighbouring Kelabit community of Long Lellang had asked the Samling management to break the Penan’s resistance once and for all and to build a new logging road to Long Lellang by September 2006.
Embarrassment for Samling and Malaysian Timber Certification Council
For the Samling group, one of Sarawak’s timber giants, the situation is particularly embarrassing: the blockade is situated within an area for which the company has recently been granted a Certificate for Forest Management by the Malaysian Timber Certification Council MTCC. However, according to the latest MTCC report on the issue, “a large proportion of the Forest Management Unit is inaccessible to logging operations” due to the Penan blockade.
Now that more than ninety percent of Sarawak’s primary rainforests have been logged, the Penan communities are protecting their last contiguous parts from logging. The rainforests of Borneo are known to be one of the world’s most important biodiversity centers.
Bruno Manser Fonds, Association for the Peoples of the Rainforest
Heuberg 25
4051 Basel / Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74
Fax +41 61 261 94 73

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3 Responses

  1. lima kimura says:

    thank you for doing the work you provide. This is a wonderful way for us to help the global environement. I would recommend this site to my students and friends in Japan. Keep up with your great work! I am glad to know the latest result with Penan people.
    Lima Amana Kimura
    Rainforest Market Campaigner
    in TOkyo, Japan

  2. tropical dave says:

    to all of you,
    keep up the good work. i am working in another area with similar goals. d

  3. Bruno Manser Fonds says:

    Update – MEDIA RELEASE, 27 September 2006
    Sarawak authorities renew ultimatum on Penan blockade
    Due to a flood of protest letters directed to Sarawak officials, the threat to arrest four Penan leaders of the community of Long Benali has been refrained. However, the situation in the Upper Baram remains strained. According to Penan sources, Sarawak authorities renewed the ultimatum yesterday. Repeatedly, they have threatened the community members of Long Benali to dismantle the blockade by force and to arrest the community's representatives next Friday, September 29th.
    The longstanding blockade at Long Benali protects the community's native customary rights (NCR) since February 2004 and prevents one of the last virgin forests of Sarawak from being exploited. Most of the community area of Long Benali is part of the Maylasian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) certified Sela'an-Linau Forest Management Unit (FMU). The concession belongs to the Miri based Samling group, which is well known for its aggressive logging practices and persistent disrespect of indigenous peoples’ rights. Major parts of the MTCC certified area are claimed by Penan communities, four of them have already submitted a NCR case to the court in 1998. The FMU has been MTCC-certified in October 2004 without the consent of the affected Penan communities.
    For more information:
    Bruno Manser Fonds
    Association for the Peoples of the Rainforest
    Heuberg 25
    4051 Basel / Switzerland

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