Penan receive death threats

January 9, 2008

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A small community of Penan tribal people in Sarawak, Malaysia, report that an official from the company logging their forests has threatened them with death.

The Penan say that the official, from the Malaysian company Samling, told them, ‘If you people try to stop our plans, we will kill you.’ The Penan have spent many years opposing the destruction of their land by Samling and other companies.

The Penan community of Long Data Bila is inside an area claimed by the Penan in a major land rights case, which has been awaiting trial since 1998. Penan leader Kelesau Naan, who was recently found dead, was one of the four plaintiffs in the case. His relatives suspect he may have been murdered due to his opposition to the logging.

Commenting on the death of Kelesau Naan, Yap Swee Seng of human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia said, ‘This .. development in Sarawak is worrying as it points to the taking root of the practice of enforced disappearance and extra-judicial killings, two of the most serious form of human rights violations.

‘We call on the government to investigate immediately the death of Kelesau Naan and make the result of the investigation public. Those involved in the death should be brought to court of justice.’

Source: Bruno Manser Fund