Hornbill Unleashed

October 29, 2010

Penan seek outside help

Feeling that their complaints and appeals against logging activities and deforestation have been falling on deaf ears, the Penan community is starting to look outside the country for aid.

A nomadic Penan travelled all the way from the Sarawak interior to Pulau Jerejak to highlight the community’s plight at the bi-annual Friends of the Earth International (FOEI) conference.

Sagong Nyipa, from Layun in Tutoh, shared his experiences with the over 100 environmental activists from 49 countries who were attending the two-day conference recently.

“Life used to be simple. We live in small groups and move around to control how much food we take from the forest.

“Now, it is difficult to hunt and find plants for medicine as the forests are getting smaller and smaller,” said Sagong, who is the first person from his village to travel outside Sarawak.

The soft-spoken father of four said the indigenous communities were largely affected by timber concessions and hydro power projects as they relied on the forest for all their needs.

“Timber companies will come and show us licences (for logging) but we are not consulted in any decisions.

“We have tried many ways of highlighting our problems – petitions, protests – but so far, it has not been successful.

“This is why we have no other alternative but to turn to Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) and outside groups,” Sagong said.

He went through a day’s journey by truck, two boats and a taxi to get to the Miri airport where he took his first ever flight.

Sarawak SAM coordinator Jok Jau Evong, who helped translate for Sagong, said he hoped international groups would help put pressure on state authorities to include the Penan in concession decisions.

“Lawyers of the Penan tribe have almost 200 court cases against various parties but every time we win a case, it is appealed to a higher court.

“It has been a long struggle that seems never-ending,” Jok said.

In recent years, the Penan community has received significant media attention, most notably for claims of rape and sexual abuse on Penan women and girls allegedly committed by employees of logging companies in 2008. – Star




    Rainforest advocate Bruno Manser has been missing for ten years

    By BMF


    2010-05-25 | Distinguished speakers remember the missing Swiss human rights activist at a commemoration ceremony in his native city of Basel.

    10 years after the disappearal of Bruno Manser in the jungles of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on Borneo, a number of speakers from politics, science and culture have commemorated the charismatic Swiss rainforest activist cum human rights advocate Bruno Manser on the occasion of a recently held commemoration in Basel, Switzerland.

    The commemoration was attended by close to 500 persons and included as speakers inter alia the Malaysian land rights lawyer cum politician, Baru Bian, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Working Group Co-Chair (IPCC), Professor Thomas Stocker, the mayor of Basel, Guy Morin, and Bruno Manser’s sister, Monika Niederberger-Manser.

    Guy Morin, mayor of the city of Basel and the canton of Basel-Stadt, lauded Manser’s struggle against corruption, poverty and for the rights of Sarawak’s indigenous peoples. Morin said that politics was in need of individuals like Bruno Manser who used all their energy and determination to forward the conservation of the natural environment.

    Thomas Stocker from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stressed the importance of the conservation of tropical forests and said that an approximate 20 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions were caused by the destruction of tropical forests.

    Monika Niederberger-Manser recalled her brother’s great respect for nature and his strong awareness of the environment as the base of all human existence.

    Saskia Ozinga from the European forest lobby FERN said that Bruno Manser continued to be an inspiration for the NGO movement and that the recent legal victories and the promise of a changing political situation in Sarawak were hopeful.

    Sarawak lawyer Baru Bian, whose law firm has won several landmark court cases over native rights, said that Bruno Manser’s name had become “synonymous with courage, boldness and perseverance in the fight against oppression and injustice of the marginalized in Sarawak.” According to Baru Bian, “the name ‘Bruno’ echoed trouble and problem to the State Government of Sarawak and her servants and agents, but it was a beautiful and sweet name in the ears of those who knew him as the person who came to live among them and helped them to find ways to tackle their problems.” He said that Bruno Manser, although a foreigner to the native communities, “chose to understand them, their life, culture and problems and eventually gave his life for his friends in Sarawak”.
    Bruno Manser’s fate remains unclear

    Bruno Manser was last seen on 25 May 2000 in the jungles of Borneo in the East Malaysian state of Sarawak where he was on the way to his Penan friends in Sarawak’s Upper Limbang river area. Despite several search expeditions, Manser’s fate remains unclear. Many of his friends and his family suspect foul play. In March 2005, a Swiss court declared him missing.

    Bruno Manser (1954-2000) travelled first to Sarawak in 1984 where he spent six years in the jungle with the Eastern Penan, South-East Asia’s last nomadic hunter-gatherers. Manser documented the Penan culture in his carefully illustrated, posthumously published diaries from the rainforest. Bruno Manser had a key role in encouraging the Penan’s resistance against logging companies, which were at the time starting to encroach into Sarawak’s interior.

    After his return to Europe in 1990, Manser set up the Bruno Manser Fund (BMF) and continued to champion the Penan’s cause incessantly until his disappearal in May 2000. Among his most spectacular actions were a sixty-day hunger strike in front of the Swiss Parliament House in Berne, a parachute jump to the Malaysian UN representation in Geneva and a flight with a motorised hang glider to the residence of Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in Kuching.

    For the Malaysian government and the country’s logging industry, Manser was a nuisance but also a convenient scapegoat. In March 1992, weeks after the arrest of dozens of Penan and other natives who had peacefully protested against the logging of their lands, the then Malaysian Prime Minister Mohammad Mahathir sent a letter to Manser, saying that he would have to take the blame “if any Penan or policeman gets killed or wounded in the course of restoring law and order in Sarawak”.

    Despite such accusations, Manser, who strongly believed in the good-naturedness of all human beings, continued to approach the Malaysian authorities. In 1993, he sent a hitherto unknown letter to Sarawak Chief Mininster Taib Mahmud, in which he offered his cooperation: “I have the vision to work with you and the Sarawak Government, if you are also interested to help protect some of the most valuable resources of the country for the benefit of the local populations.” Manser’s letter to Taib remained unanswered. The destruction of Sarawak’s unique rainforest habitat has continued ever since. -ENDS-

    Comment by headhunter1million — November 21, 2010 @ 6:26 PM | Reply

  2. hmm..AVATAR…

    Comment by leo panetta — October 30, 2010 @ 8:43 PM | Reply

  3. I am sure will happen in the future. Not only the Penan but the whole orang ulu group….the Kelabit, Kenyah, Kayan, Sabang and Berawan….these are the main ethnic group

    When people talked about the penan……ahhh they think about jungle..hunting and gathering life style. Don’t forget other orang ulu are the same…same life style but we are consider ourselves in better position then most of the penan and don’t forget that some orang ulu are doing no better the penan or worse still doing worse.

    The penan lives among or side by side the orang ulu….and their inter marriage as well. If they are affected by the loggers, what do you think about the others….

    So as said, I am not surprise that the ‘jungle law’ will eventually take place in future; not by the penan but other orang ulu! Because the penan are very humble and nice bunch of people.


    Comment by Head Hunter 3 — October 29, 2010 @ 11:30 PM | Reply

    • Don’t wait anymore brothers and sisters out there.

      There will be nothing left to fight for!

      Comment by Anotherheadhunter — November 3, 2010 @ 10:28 AM | Reply

  4. wondering maybe one day, penan ppl will tired all of this n start playing jungle rules.In BRazil, some tribes there never make contact with outside world..The journey to their village is dangerous since they rule the jungles.not to mention , canibalistic ..myb that time, the logging company start to respect others

    Comment by leo panetta — October 29, 2010 @ 10:47 PM | Reply

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