Malaysia pushes Borneo rainforest logging by deposing tribal leaders
September 9, 2008
The Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss NGO that works on behalf of the forest people of Sarawak, Malaysia, says that the headmen of at least three Penan communities that have opposed logging have lost official recognition from Malaysian authorities over the past year. The government is working to install representatives who support logging.
"The non-recognition of the elected community headmen by the Sarawak State Government is a clear violation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," stated the Bruno Manser Fund in an emailed release. "The Declaration, which has been adopted by Malaysia, upholds in its article 18 the right of indigenous communities 'to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures'."
Baram Penan community leaders discussing among each other, to the right, deposed Long Sait headman Bilong Oyoi in 2006.
Assembly of Upper Baram headmen in 2006 (top left corner: the late Kelesa Naan, former headman of Long Kerong; top right corner: Bilong Oyoi, the deposed headman of Long Sait). Copyright the Bruno Manser Fund
Today the Penan face not only loggers but increased pressure from oil palm developers as well as an ambitious government plan to dam several rainforest rivers in an effort to generate electricity to attract aluminum smelters and mineral refiners.
Map showing the location of the villages of the deposed headmen and the area of the pending land rights litigations. Copyright the Bruno Manser Fund