Friday, June 24, 2011

Dam-affected Penan people cheated out of their land

[The Murum Dam is being built by the China Three Gorges Corporation,
with a subcontract for Sinohydro. The project is being developed by
Sarawak Energy Berhad, a "sustainability partner" of the International
Hydropower Association.]

Penan hunter-gatherers to be dumped in vast oil palm plantation
Survival International, 15 June 2011

More than 1,000 Penan hunter-gatherers will be taken from their
rainforest home and dumped in a vast oil palm plantation - to make way
for the controversial Murum dam.

The Penan have said they do not want to move, but have been given no
choice. They told the government that if they had to leave they wanted
to move to another part of their ancestral land.

The government accepted this - but has sold the same area to the
Malaysian company Shin Yang, which is clearing the forest and planting
thousands of oil palms.

The Penan, who live in the Malaysian state of Sarawak, rely on their
forest for hunting and collecting wild fruits and plants; without it
they cannot survive.

In an emotional appeal the Penan said, "Shin Yang has entered the area
illegally without our consent. If it is allowed to extensively clear and
fell the forest, there will be no more forest left for our community to
sustain our livelihood".

Survival's Director, Stephen Corry, said today, "Even by the appalling
standards of the Sarawak government, which has treated the Penan with
contempt for decades, this is breathtakingly cynical. Not only is it
forcing more than 1,000 people from the forests they have lived in for
generations, it has sold off the area it promised them as a new home,
and is allowing it to be cleared for plantations. It looks like the
government won't be satisfied until the Penan are reduced to utter
poverty and destitution."

Notes to Editors:

The Murum dam, due to come onstream next year, is the first in a series
of twelve new hydroelectric dams that will flood Penan and other
indigenous villages.

The twelve new dams will facilitate the development of the "Sarawak
corridor of renewable energy" (SCORE), which will involve oil, timber,
aluminium and palm oil enterprises and will further threaten the land of
Sarawak's tribal people

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