A road blockade organized by Penan tribesmen in Malaysian Borneo turned violent over the weekend when a timber company official allegedly struck a native protester, reports the Bruno Manser Fund. Malaysian state police, who arrived in logging company vehicles, subsequently told the Penan to dismantle their blockade, which was established to protest continued logging of rainforest lands.
The Bruno Manser Fund, an activist group that campaigns on behalf of forest people in Sarawak, says that Aking Anung, a Penan hunter, was attacked by an employee of a company sub-contracted by Lee Ling timber group. Anung’s nose was bloodied during the incident. He subsequently filed a police report in the town of Limbang, but when police arrived they demanded the Penan take down the blockade.
Lee Ling timber camp near Long Sebayang on the upper reaches of the Limbang river, Sarawak, Malaysia.
The Penan erected the road blockade near a timber camp at Long Sebayang in Sarawak’s Upper Limbang region to prevent conversion communal forest land to pulp plantations by Lee Ling and its subcontractors.
Lee Ling Timber and the plantation company, Limba Jaya Timber, form part of the Lee Ling Group, which is based in Kuching, the state capital of Sarawak.
The Penan have long struggled against loggers and plantation developers in Sarawak, the Malaysian state that occupies the northwestern part of Borneo. The Penan, along with other forest groups, have won a string of court cases over the past decade that have recognized their land rights, but these have been largely ignored by the state government, according to The Bruno Manser Fund.