Police is threatening indigenous blockade against dam
The blockade site
The Malaysian police attempted to dismantle an indigenous blockade in Sarawak, Malaysia. For almost one year, indigenous landowners have been manning two blockades against the proposed Baram Dam in Sarawak's North.
Today, the police and the Forestry Department as well as a local logging company sent over 60 people to one of the blockades in order to dismantle it. After the police dissolved the barricade, the activists immediately set up a new one. The police gave the indigenous landowners a three-day grace period to dissolve the blockade.
The logging company M. M. Golden, a subcontractor of Autorich, was given the concession for clearing the forest in the area of the proposed Baram Dam by the government. The Forestry Department calls the blockade illegal although the local indigenous communities are the rightful owners of the land. The indigenous landowners have, therefore, filed legal complaints against the encroachment of the logging company into their traditional land.
On Thursday, 23th of October, the two blockades against the proposed Baram Dam would celebrate their one year anniversary.
PRESS STATEMENT by SAVE Rivers
BREAKING NEWS: Baram Dam blockade at KM15 dismantled by authorities, new barricade set up hours later by protesters
BARAM: The Baram Dam blockade which was erected nearly a year ago by the indigenous communities who are against the proposed Baram Hydroelectric Power (HEP) Dam Project at KM15 Jalan Samling, Baram was dismantled by the police, Forestry Department officers and loggers this morning. However, the loggers access to the site was short-lived as the protesters put up a new barricade hours later.
According to Johannes Luhat, one of the protesters who is manning the KM15 camp blockade site, about 50 police General Operation Force (GOF) personnel, 10 Forestry Department officers and a handful of loggers from the logging company M. M. Golden and/or Autorich Sdn. Bhd. came up to the barricade that the protesters set up near the junction going into Long Kesseh village at KM15 and proceeded to dismantle it.
Hearing the news that the barricade was dismantled, the protesters who are at KM15 camp when down to the site to confront the police, Forestry Department and the loggers to stop them from entering the site.
"When we arrived at the site, we asked them who authorised them to dismantle the blockade, since the area is still under dispute and no court order was made to order us to lift our blockade", said Johannes.
"One Forestry Department officer by the name of Asan Udau told us that we were breaking the law by setting up the barricade to stop the company from entering the site and to extract the timber."
"We told the Forestry Department officer that the company is actually logging on native customary land belonging to the villages of Naâah and Long Kesseh and doing it illegally as they have yet to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) study of the area, which was previously logged before. Furthermore, villagers from Naâah and Long Kesseh are against the said logging activities", said Johannes.
The protesters told the Forestry Department officer that a police report and a report to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) had been lodged against the illegal logging activities of the company in July this year and they have yet to receive a response either from the police or MACC.
After much argument, the protesters managed to put up a fresh new barricade at the same site and told Forest Department officer to give them a 3 day grace period not to dismantle the new barricade, which the officer agreed.
As of 4.30pm today the new barricade is still standing.
M. M. Golden Sdn. Bhd., a sub-contractor to Autorich Sdn. Bhd., is extracting timber on logged over forest on the native customary lands of the villagers of Na'ah and Long Kesseh for the purpose of clearing the area to make way for the construction of the proposed Baram HEP Dam.
We will update more as we get more information from the ground.
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