Sunday, 21 October 2012
Baram residents delivered petition protesting the Baram mega-dam to the Chief Minister of Sarawak
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
18 September 2012
2012: About 50 indigenous people from the Baram area
delivered a petition of thousands of signatures to the Chief Minister of Sarawak today at Wisma Bapa
(State Secretariat building). The people were representing at least 18
longhouses from Upper and Middle Baram. Malaysia
The petitions are in protest of the plans to build a mega-dam which would flood half the size of
Thousands of Baram residents would be forced to move away from their ancestral
lands, homes and farms, to accommodate the mega-dam. Singapore
Affected resident, and President of JOAS (Jaringan Orang Asal seMalaysia or Indigenous Peoples’ Network of Malaysia), Thomas Jalong of Long Anap, Baram views with grave concern of the planned construction of mega-dam because of its potential adverse implications, particularly on the rights, livelihoods and future of the indigenous people of the area.
“The dam would inevitably submerge our ancestral homelands of more than 20,000 people and in the process would forcibly displace us from our homes. We would also be unjustly deprived of our lands, sources of livelihood and sustenance, facing an uncertain future,” Thomas Jalong said.
“To us indigenous peoples, our ancestral land is a link to our past, present and future generations. Land is not only regarded as an economic resource but is fundamental to our social, cultural, spiritual and political identity and survival,” Thomas added.
Peter Kallang, Chairperson of Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers), a coalition formed by indigenous peoples and NGOs to stop the 12 planned mega-dams in
Sarawak says, “This clearly
shows that the majority of the Baram people do not want the dam.”
“If you look at the United Nations Declarations on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) that
has agreed to adopt, the plan for constructing the dams have to
stop immediately and all works on the access roads to the dams including the
soil studies has to be stopped,” Peter adds. Malaysia
Philip Jau, of Baram Protection Action Committee says, “the government has not been transparent at all with actual plans of the Baram mega-dam. They have not asked the people what they think about the plans of the dam, but instead have commenced plans to start surveys for the access roads. We do want development and roads but we do not want an access road built specifically for the mega-dam. This is not what we want.”
“When we met with the Superintendent of the Lands and Survey Miri, he did not mention the building of the access road or the reason why the road is being built. This is an example of how they continue not to be transparent of their plans,” Philip Jau stressed.
Philip Jau hopes that the government would listen to the voices of the Baram residents and stop all building related to the Baram mega-dam, hence the handover of the petition today.
Prior to the handing of the petition, at least 150 people attended a forum organized by Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) on native customary lands, and mega-dams in
Sarawak on Monday (Sept 17th) at Telang Usan Hotel. Speakers spoke on the
rights of indigenous peoples, especially in relation to land, and the
socio-economic impacts of the mega-dams.
- END –
PRESS STATEMENT BY SAVE RIVERSFor further information, contact Peter Kallang, 013 8331104 or Mark Bujang, 014 8776685.