One Penan arrested - Police shoot in the air as 300 continue protest
The reason for Ngang's arrest and its legal base remain unknown. Ngang Buling was brought to the Belaga police station for questioning but has not been placed under lockup yet. According to Ngang Buling, he was told he had to stay at the police station for four days.
According to SAVE Rivers, the arrest caused a tense situation at the blockade situation when 30 police officers were confronted with 300 protestors who asked to be arrested as well. A police officer named Sufiang was reported to have shot in the air "to stop action of the people".
The recent blockade has been triggered by the impoundment of the Murum dam which was started by Sarawak Energy last Sunday and caught the villagers of six Penan longhouses by surprise. These villages have not yet been resettled and the negotiations on the terms of their forced resettlement have not been finished. In this situation, Sarawak Energy, the state-owned dam operator, decided to close the flood gates and create facts on the ground. It is expected that the six villages, home to an estimated 1500 people, will be flooded within 12 months.
Sarawak Energy is directed by Torstein Dale Sjotveit, a Norwegian national. While Mr. Sjotveit claims to be on good terms with the Penan of Murum, it has been reported that, earlier this week, he yelled at at delegation of Penan who refused to accept the resettlement terms as dictated by Sarawak Energy and the Sarawak state government. In a form of collective punishment, the Penan delegation, who had been brought by car to a Sarawak Energy camp near the dam, had been forced to walk home several hours to their longhouses. Reportedly, Mr. Sjotveit also yelled at police officers present at the dam site whom he called 'cowards' as they refused to take stern action against the native protesters.
The Bruno Manser Fund calls on the Malaysian police to immediately release Ngang Buling. Prime Minister Najib Razak is asked to intervene with the Sarawak state government and to halt the Murum dam impoundment until a decent solution to the resettlement has been found.
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