SarawakReport

Baram Dam Blockade

Baram Dam Blockade

The proposed Baram Dam could flood a rainforest area of over 400km2 and displace up to 20,000 people from 26 villages. Communities are manning two blockade sites, one at the access road near Long Lama and one near the dam site.

Photos: International Rivers / Save Rivers

Long San will be flooded if the Baram Dam is built. This village, the heartland of the Kenyah people in the Baram District is a site which stands out historically as a significant heritage. Established during the reign of the Brunei Sultanate, the majority of the Kenyah settlers in Long San were of the Long Tekan dialect which is part of the greater group known as Kenyah Lepo Mbo’. However, the modern Long San is more cosmopolitan in nature. Some of those living in the modern Long San are Kenyah (from various dialects). This new character is started with the establishment of Long Akah being the fortress (Kubu Long Akah) in the interior Baram during the Brooke’s reign in the 1900s and later the Long San Mission in the early 1940’s. It is the midpoint Parish of the Roman Catholics in the upper Baram District.

The missionaries brought development for those living in the Upper Baram by establishing a school (St. Pius, Long San), a clinic, a retail shop, a micro hydro for electrical power, a carpentry training centre, modern farming, modern house construction and many more for the benefits of the people. Besides the aforementioned, the little hamlet has a colourful role in the modernisation of the Kenyah people. If built, the highest point in Long San, Mudung Gereja (hill behind the St. Paul’s Church) will be about 20 metres under water. A very sad and sorry end to a heroic and irreplaceable legacy therefore this will be the generation when the Kenyah heritage in Baram is being wiped out from the face of the earth. Those responsible will be the current Sarawak State Government, Sarawak Energy Bhd and those in cohort with them.

— Peter Kallang

Long Akah - Long Akah is a settlement in the interior of the Marudi division of Sarawak, on the upper reaches of the Baram river. The village is an old Chinese trading post. It is the site of an old Fort built in 1929 as an administrative centre in Charles Brooke's era.

Long Anap is a longhouse and settlement in the Marudi division of Sarawak in the upper reaches of the Baram river. The village is located on the Baram river between Long Palai (upstream) and Long Julan (downstream). There is a longhouse and a school in the village. A logging road links the village to Long Silat. The people in this settlement belong to the Kenyah tribe. A tall structure with flags has been erected in front of the longhouse.

Long Apu is a longhouse in the mountainous interior of the Marudi division of Sarawak. The village is located on the Baram river and is known for white water rafting events. The people are from the Kenyah tribe. Most of the villagers are depending on the natural resources to sustain their daily needs such as food sources. Previously they were hunting and planting paddy.

Long Julan is a Kenyah longhouse in the interior of the Miri division of Sarawak. The people belong to the Lepoh Abong ethnic group within the Kenyah tribe. Long Julan is located in the upper reaches of the Baram river at its confluence with Sungai Julan, a tributary which flows down from the Usun Apau National Park.

Long Selatong is a Kenyah longhouse in the Marudi division of Sarawak. The village was the subject of research into subsistence farming between 1976 and 1980 by Chin See Chung of the Department of Botany at the University of Malaya. Chung spent long periods of time with the people and learnt the Kenyah language. He concluded that 'in principle, the Kenyah swidden system and resources and strategies are stable, adaptive and compatible with the functioning rainforest ecosystem.

Long Tebangan is a longhouse settlement in the interior of the Marudi division of Sarawak on the upper Baram river. On 27th January 2007 the Malaysian government announced that Long Tebangan was "Kampung Gerakan Daya Wawasan" (The Vision Village). Despite this the village will be drowned if the Baram dam goes ahead.

Long Palai is a Kenyah village which is further upriver than Long Anap. It is located on the bank of the Baram river. The Kenyah living in the village are primarily of the Lepo Laeng dialect. However, due to intermarriage between the villagers with people from other villages (“ngiban” the Kenyah word refereeing to a marriage arrangement in the community), there a number of none Lepo Laeng who now live in Long Palai. The Lepo Laeng dilect has a melodic tune in it. However, the original dialect of the group is disappearing fast due to the influence of other Kenyah groups. Long Palai will be inundated if the Baram dam is built.

— Peter Kallang
20.000people will be displaced

26villages will be destroyed

400sq km2 of rainforest will be flooded

What we need here in Baram is basic development: a clinic, a school, roads, electricity…This is the kind of development we want. We are very firm: we will not give up our land. We rely on the land; we want the land for the generations to come.

People from Long Lutin

Rendering of what the Baram dam will look like

The Baram Dam is going to destroy us, as a people. It will bring no benefits. For this, there can be no compensation. How do you put value on the land and the river? This is our land, and there is no other place here that is available for us.

— People from Long Laput

The Baram River

The dam will only bring us suffering. Only a handful of our people support its construction and of these few, only those whose position depends on the government.

— John K. from Long Anap.

My father died in 2002. I will not let them flood my father’s grave and I will not allow my father to die twice because of the dam. I will fight this dam.

— Thomas M. from Long San.

Baram Dam Blockade
Welcome to the Blockade
The blockade site
Long San

A human made tsunami will roll down and destroy everything — forest, rivers, crops, churches, schools, graveyards, just everything! This will be the end of our lives!

— Peter L. from Long Anap

We living people can at least run away as soon as the water comes, but what about our dead ancestors?

— Maria K. from the Kenyah village of Long Anapon.

Handdrawn map of the expected flood area

Films


Updates from the Blockade