Police clear Penan blockade

February 21, 2007

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Members of a nomadic tribe who had been preventing loggers from bulldozing their rainforest home for two years have had their blockade dismantled by Malaysian police.

The Penan nomads had blockaded a logging road in an effort to stop one of the last remaining areas of virgin rainforest in the province of Sarawak from being logged.

The Penan are entirely dependent on the forest for all their food and shelter. The Samling logging company whose concession covers the Penan’s territory have already cut down much of the tribe’s rainforest.

In June 2006 the Malaysian authorities announced that they would remove the blockade, near the community of Long Benali, and arrest four Penan leaders. However, after protests by Survival supporters and others around the world, they took no action. Worldwide protests are now needed once again to stop the resumption of the logging.

Despite the destruction of their blockade, the Penan will continue to resist Samling’s activities. According to one Penan, ‘If we don't defy the loggers now, all the remaining forest in the Upper Baram area will be gone within two years’.

The blockade site is in an area certified by the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC) for ‘sustainable logging’. However, the  certification fails to acknowledge that this ‘sustainable logging’ is on the Native Customary Land of the Penan people, who have never given their consent for logging to take place.