Borneo tribes under threat from logging lobby

Mongabay.com has featured a story that says the Malaysian government is attempting to quell indigenous opposition to logging in the rainforests of Borneo.

The report says that an environmental group has evidence that community leaders are being deposed and replacing them with timber company stakeholders.

The Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss NGO that works on behalf of the forest people of Sarawak, Malaysia, says that the headmen of at least three Penan communities that have opposed logging have lost official recognition from Malaysian authorities over the past year.

A spokesman for the NGO added that the the government is working to install representatives who support logging.

“The non-recognition of the elected community headmen by the Sarawak State Government is a clear violation of the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples,” stated the Bruno Manser Fund in an emailed release.

“The Declaration, which has been adopted by Malaysia, upholds in its article 18 the right of indigenous communities ‘to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures’.”

The Penan communities of Sarawak have waged a long battle against the logging of their ancestral homeland in the rainforests of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo.

The opposition reached a peak in the 1980s when the Penan blocked logging roads and sabotaged equipment.

The Malaysian government responded by closing down media access to the area and sending in armed forces to violently supress the unrest.

While the attacks on the Penan brought international attention to the rampant rate of logging in Borneo’s forests, little appears to have changed in the long-term.

Source: Mongabay.com

Date: 09/09/2008

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