Help the PENAN..Save their LAND and their FUTURE
Tribal people, the Penan, under threat
! The hunter-gatherer Penan live in the rain forests of the interior of Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of the island of Borneo.
! The Penan rely on the forest for their existence.
! The Penan’s land rights are not recognized by the Sarawak state government, and their forests are being cleared for logging, oil palm plantations and hydroelectric dams.
“We’re not like the people in the towns, who have money and can buy things. If we lose all the things the forest gives us, we will die.” Penan man, Ba Lai
The story so far…
The Penan are hunter-gatherers, who rely on the forest for their survival. They hunt wild animals, catch fish in the rivers, and gather ferns and fruit from their land. Where the forests are cleared, it is becoming almost impossible for the Penan to sustain themselves. When the forests are cleared, the Penan lose the walking trails that have been used for generations. The Penan face poverty, poor diet, and polluted water – all leading to ill health.
Logging, Oil Palm and Hydroelectric Dams
The government has backed large-scale commercial logging on tribal land across Sarawak. The Malaysian government claims that Sarawak is being logged sustainably – but its forests are being destroyed at one of the fastest rates in the world. Where all of the valuable trees have been cut down, the companies have started to remove the forests completely for oil palm plantations. This is an even greater problem since the land can no longer be used as it once was by the Penan. The Sarawak government also plans to build twelve new hydroelectric dams, flooding many villages belonging to Penan and other indigenous people.
I went up to the ridge last week to tell the workers to stop logging. They told me, ‘This is a government project. If you fight us, we’ll kill you.’ – Pisang, Penan man
‘Many of us have gone to prison for defending our rights to this land. Thus, we will continue defending our rights for the rest of our lives.’
Penan communities have protested against the logging of their land by blockading the roads that logging companies have cut through the forest. In September, more than 150 Penan tribespeople blocked roads in Borneo, protesting the destruction of their rainforest by logging companies, and at the Malaysian government’s failure to protect their land. Some company workers have threatened the Penan with death if they continue to resist, and others are accused of raping Penan girls and women.
Let’s make change HAPPEN
1) WRITE A LETTER!
With Survival International, ask the Malaysian authorities to recognize the Penan’s rights to their land, and to halt all logging and development on their land without their consent.
YAB Pehin Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud
Chief Minister of Sarawak
Office of the Chief Minister of Sarawak
22nd Floor, Wisma Bapa Malaysia Petra Jaya
I am extremely concerned about the situation of the Penan tribe. Since their rights to their lands are not recognised, they are under threat from logging, oil palm plantations and hydroelectric dams. These developments are rapidly destroying the Penan’s forests, without which they cannot survive.
Logging scares away the animals the Penan hunt, pollutes the rivers and kills the fish. Once the valuable trees have gone, the forests are cleared completely to make way for oil palm. Many Penan have also been told they must leave their land to make way for the first in a series of new hydroelectric dams.
I urge your government to recognise the Penan’s rights to ownership of their land, as enshrined in international law, and to halt all development on their land without their free, prior and informed consent.
Your full name.
2) SHARE the message with your friends and your communities.
Spread the word. Get everyone involved. By working together, we can mount pressure for change.
3) SHOW your government that you care about the Penan.
ITV feature on the impact of logging on the tribes of Sarawak
Louise is a scientist who is fascinated by the interaction between parasites and our immune system. It’s amazing that tiny organisms can have such a large impact on our health. Likewise, she’s amazed by the ability of one person, or small group, to bring about positive change on the local or global level. Louise finds herself distracted by sustainability and environmental issues. She wants to tell everyone about it.