Malaysian Civil Society regards with great indignation the violation of Native Customary Rights of the Orang Asal (the Indigenous People) of Sarawak in the construction of hydroelectric power dams in Bakun, Murum and Baram, Sarawak.
The Violation of Native Rights
The Sarawak State Government under the administration of the Chief Minister Taib Mahmud has consistently and relentlessly violated the Rights of the Orang Asal in Sarawak by unlawful seizure of their Native Customary Lands; systemic deforestation through illegal logging; flooding of river valleys as a result the construction of three mega dams at Batang Ai, Bakun and Murum and the planned construction of another nine dams at Baram and other districts; illegal transplantation of the monoculture of oil palms onto vast areas of Native Customary Lands; the establishment of toxic, polluting and massive energy-consuming smelting industries in the industrial zones (SCORE) along the coast of Sarawak.
This systematic and disastrous environmental destruction has brought irreversible harm to the Orang Asal communities who have protected the pristine forests for their food, small farms, long houses, places of worship, churches and burial grounds. Their very existence and culture is dependent on their lands and the forest. Their land is their life.
The eviction of the Orang Asal from their lands has proven to be a cultural genocide. The forced relocation of the Orang Asal to Sungai Asap to make way for the construction of Bakun Dam had left the community destitute. The new settlement area is a part of oil palm plantations and is unsuitable for cultivation of hill rice and other crops. It is located far away from the forests. The schools and clinics demanded by the Orang Asal are lacking. The amenities are badly constructed and unhygienic. While the forced relocation is not unlike the setting up of “New Villages” during the Emergency Orders from 1948 to 1960 in Malaya, the living condition has been comparable to that of the refugee camps.
The Protection of Native Customary Lands (Blockade) at Murum, Sarawak
The Penan communities at Murum have started their third Protection/Blockade since 23 September 2013 as their demands for fair compensations have not been met by the Sarawak Government and its linked corporations. The entire communities including women and children have been camping under the warm sun and suffer the monsoon rain for the past six weeks to voice their protest.
The Protection of Native Customary Lands (Blockade) at Baram, Sarawak
The Orang Ulu communities of Baram had similarly started their Protection/Blockade on 23 October 2013 to stop further prospective and construction work on the planned Baram Dam. They had peacefully asked the workers at the Baram Dam project to leave. The Dam workers had complied and construction had come to a stand still. The eviction of the Dam workers had been conducted peacefully.
The Demands of the Malaysian Civil Society
The civil rights movement of the Orang Asal in Malaysia in general and that of the Orang Asal at Murum and Baram in particular is an inseparable part of the larger Malaysia Civil Society movement against injustices and oppression inflicted upon the Malaysian public as a whole. We hold in great indignation such injustices committed against us. The demands of the Orang Asal at Murum and Baram are therefore our own demands.
The Malaysian Civil Society demands that the Sarawak State Government and its linked corporations, contactors and agents:
1. To immediately stop the impoundment of Murum Dam and stop further arson against the long houses of the Penan community in Murum. That they enter into open and fair consultation with the Penan community without intimidation, force, corruption and manipulations to divide and split the community.
2. To immediately stop all work related to the survey and construction of the planned Baram Dam. That they enter into open and fair consultation with the community of Baram without intimidation, force, corruption and manipulation to divide and split the community.
The Malaysian Civil Society also demands:
3. That the Royal Police of Malaysia immediately end the Police road block to allow food, water, medical assistance, social workers and media reporters to freely enter Murum. That the Royal Police of Malaysia renders its utmost professional service to protect the Orang Asal in Murum and Baram who are exercising their Civil Rights granted and guaranteed under the Constitution of Malaysia to a peaceful life in Malaysia.
Issued by Damn the Dams Action Group and endorsed by the following Malaysian Civil Society organizations:
All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
ANGKATAN WARGA AMAN MALAYSIA (WargaAMAN)
Association of Women Lawyers
Ban Cyanide Action Committee, Raub, Pahang
Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC)
Bersih Sibu, Sarawak
Borneo Resources Institute, Malaysia (BRIMAS)
Borneo Rights International, United Kingdom (BRI)
Biro Alam Sekitar Parti Keadilan Rakyat
Center for Orang Asli Concerns
Centre for Policy Initiatives (CPI)
Civil Rights Committee of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Community Action Network (CAN)
Communities Information and Communication Centre (CICOM)
Dapur Jalanan Kuala Lumpur
Friends in Conversation (FIC)
Gerakan Bunga Raya
Gindol Initiative for Civil Society, Borneo
Gabungan NGO Pengerang Johore
Ho Yock Lin, President, AWAM
Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS) which comprises 89 CBOs.
Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (JERIT)
Jaringan Tanah Hak Adat Bangsa Asal Sarawak (TAHABAS)
JOHOR YELLOW FLAME (JYF)
Kelab Bangsar Utama
Lee Hwok Aun Dr., Universiti Malaya
LLG Cultural Development Centre
Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement
MADPET (Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture)
MALAYSIAN INDIANS PROGRESSIVE ASSOCIATION (MIPAS)
Malaysians for Beng Hock
New Era College Student Progressive Front
Northern Green Youth
Parti Sosialis Malaysia
People’s Green Coalition
Persatuan Alumni PBTUSM Kuala Lumpur & Selangor
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (PRIHATIN)
Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor dan Wilayah Persekutuan (PERMAS)
Persatuan Murid Murid Tua SJK (C) Pei Hwa
Persatuan Penduduk Taman Muhibbah
Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (PSWS)
Pertubuhan Solidariti Hijau Kuantan ( PSHK)
Pusat Komunikasi Masyarakat (KOMAS)
Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
Saya Anak Bangsa Malaysia (SABM)
Sahabat Rakyat Working Committee
Save Vui Kong Campaign
Serdang Bharu School Alumni Youth Section
Solidariti Anak Muda Malaysia (SAMM)
Save Malaysia Stop Lynas (SMSL)
Sunflower Election Education (SEED)
Tan Siang Yong, Chairman Kedah/Perlis Liaison Committee, LLG Cultural Development Centre
Toh Kin Woon Dr.
Universiti Utara Malaysia Student Progressive Front
Universiti Sains Malaysia Student Progressive Front
Universiti Putra Malaysia Student Progressive Front
Women’s Centre for Change, Penang
Women Development of Malaysia PJ Branch.
Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO)
Women Section of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Wong Fort Pin Dr., Klinik Wong, Melaka
Writer Alliance for Media Independence (WAMI)
Yoong Suan Dr., PhD, research fellow, Cameron Highlands
Youth Section of Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
528 Media Action Group
Life for Democracy
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