Iban leader arrested over oil palm dispute

November 9, 2007

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Police in Sarawak, Malaysia, have arrested an Iban Indigenous community leader. Rajang anak Sengalang was arrested from his longhouse on Wednesday. The local Iban organisation believes that the arrest was due to a conflict with an oil palm plantation company operating on Iban land.

The Mega Jutamas Sdn Bhd plantation company secured a lease from the Sarawak state government in 2005 for 2,145 hectares, for a period of sixty years. The Iban community have repeatedly objected to the lease, claiming that part of the area leased is on their land. The Sarawak authorities and the company have ignored their objections.

The Iban are Sarawak’s most numerous Indigenous people. They live in communal longhouses and grow rice and fruit, and hunt and fish. In recent decades much of their rainforest has been cleared by logging and plantation companies.

Source: Bruno Manser Fonds