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.
RELAYED TEXT STARTS HERE:
Title: Rainforest dwellers successfully maintain logging road blockade in one of Malaysia’s last virgin jungle areas
Source: BRUNO MANSER FONDS, BASEL / SWITZERLAND
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, Rainforestportal.org 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
4051 Basel / Switzerland
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74
Fax +41 61 261 94 73