Page
“Not Development, but Theft”
   The testimony of Penan communities in Sarawak



  This Report is based on a Fact-Finding ...
Table of Contents

                    Preamble
                Acknowledgements




Chapter One    : Background to the Re...
Page
Preamble
Preface

This report is mainly the result of a Fact Finding Mission which went to Ulu
Baram, Sarawak in 1995. All...
Chapter One: Background
The Penan in Ulu Baram

Sarawak is the largest of the thirteen states of Malaysia. It is situated ...
authorities have little sympathy with such recognition and are content to sup-
port loggers and other land ‘developers’ ac...
The fish cannot survive in dirty rivers and wild animals will not live in devas-
tated forest.” (2)

In March, the Penan o...
ment’ schemes continued without question. For example, in the late-1980s, secu-
rity forces were moved into areas where re...
filed a formal complaint to the Police that a Penan man and woman had been mur-
dered. However, there was apparently no in...
at odds with the fact that so many communities and so many people within these
communities have been involved in petitioni...
The second mission visited a number of communities, including Long Suit, Long
Sepigen, Long Kerong, Long Sait, Lio Matu, S...
Chapter Two: Penan Testimonies
Introduction

During the Fact-Finding Mission, a number of communities were visited and a
n...
the forest. They found that the company’s concession was already about a mile
into the communal forest.

The villagers con...
forestry officers and a SAO (State Administration Officer), Metaib bin Sayu.

Henry Kong, a policeman who said that he rep...
ask for recognition of the rights of locals over the communal forest but he was
unable to do so because of his health. How...
The villagers had earlier put paint on the trees as a means of identifying the
villagers’ forest reserves. But the timber ...
agreed that they should stop the work.The work on the forest has stopped since
then.

Villagers insist that they want to d...
Penan. During that time, the people were mainly nomadic, later settling down in
Long Spigen. There were no people from oth...
At a meeting in Ulu Sega, Tua Kampong and a group of villagers went to see
Balang Seling (former Senator and President of ...
In April 1994, five villagers were asked to sign and acknowledge receipt of
these gifts from the logging company. The five...
year and Primary 2, 4, 6 in another. This year, 27 of the students are from Long
Sait, 2 from Long Spigen and 1 from Long ...
Because of these irregularities, attendance at the school has been poor. When
parents send their children to school, they ...
admission into the School. The parents have never tried this because they can’t
afford to send their children to Marudi.

...
Chapter Three: Blockade Witnesses
Introduction

The Penan have been trying for many, many years to bring their grievances ...
After that we erected the blockade. It was about a half hour walk from Long
Mobui. A forestry official, a Kelabit, prepare...
During the dismantling, riot squads (FRU) lined up in their red helmets with
white stripes, with similar coloured uniform ...
The next day, March 2nd, two policemen came. They told us that it is against the
law to put up a blockade. We told them th...
The police chief who came during the tear-gassing incident was Luis Sin Sii
(Chinese). Also there was Kepala Desa of Long ...
your ancestors? It is the modern age now, why do you want to look back?” One
answer is: ‘You yourself think of your ancest...
We appeal to you: Don’t worry, help us. We do our work but we don’t know where
else to turn to. We need friends who know t...
That’s why we want others and the government to understand our situation, so
that nothing like this will happen again in f...
While in Marudi, I was questioned. They wanted to find out where I was arrested
and the name of the blockade leader. They ...
The lock-up was about 10 feet by 15 feet and all eleven of us were kept together
in it. There was a toilet but they gave n...
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Testimony of Penan Communities in Sarawak against Taib Mahmud's evil plan to dominate the state and exploit its resources for his own, his family's and their cronies' entire benefit: the "Politics of Development", which is actually the "Politics of Theft".

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  1. 1. Page
  2. 2. “Not Development, but Theft” The testimony of Penan communities in Sarawak This Report is based on a Fact-Finding Mission and community survey. C IDEAL (Institute for Development and Alternative Lifestyle) Publisher: IDEAL TIME Sdn Bhd, No 14, 3rd Floor, Lorong Keranji 4, 96000 Sibu, Sarawak Malaysia. Postal Address: P.O. Box 8, 96007 Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia Tel: +(6) 084 - 320411 Fax: +(6) 084 - 329695 Email: wongmc@tm.net.my Printer: Soft Print 51, Jalan Tuanku Osman, 1 Jalan Sukan, 96000 Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia ISBN 983-40225-2-2 Page
  3. 3. Table of Contents Preamble Acknowledgements Chapter One : Background to the Report Chapter Two : Penan Testimonies Chapter Three : Blockade Witnesses Chapter Four : Police Cases Chapter Five : Community Updates Chapter Six : Recommendations and Action Page
  4. 4. Page
  5. 5. Preamble Preface This report is mainly the result of a Fact Finding Mission which went to Ulu Baram, Sarawak in 1995. All of us have heard about the Penan. We may know that they are one of the many groups of indigenous people in Sarawak (indeed, in Malaysia as a whole) whose lives and cultures have been utterly transformed by the advent of logging and other ‘land development’ that has occurred, especially since the 1980s. We may be aware also of the apparently contradictory informa- tion coming out of Sarawak with regard to the indigenous, including the Penan, communities. On the one hand, the government has been saying that the Penan are being well looked after, that a number of initiatives have been taken on their behalf and that there is no problem. On the other hand, there have been, and continue to be, reports of continued blockades, violence, arrests, human rights abuses and general unhappiness from Penan themselves. Claims have been made that their land rights are being tram- pled on, their culture denigrated and lost, and their efforts to clarify, nego- tiate or report serious incidents simply ignored. It was deemed appropriate to send a team of people to investigate the situation, concentrating on Ulu Baram, where many Penan communities are to be found. This report contains the evidence of that visit. Dedication This report is dedicated to all Penan who have been struggling so long and against such odds, in an effort to uphold their rights and future. They need our support. It is also dedicated to Justin. Justin was a member of the first Mission team, and tragically lost his life when the boat in which he was travelling over- turned. His memory is long cherished, and his work, commitment and motivation to help those less fortunate than himself shines as an example to us all. Acknowledgements This report is a joint effort of members of the Fact Finding Mission. The photo- graphs were also taken by the Mission. The following organisations made finan- cial contributions to the mission: Aliran, AWAM, Suaram, Komas, World Rainforest Movement, Bruno Manser Fund, Rainforest Action Network and Pro Regenwald. Copyright. June 2000 Page
  6. 6. Chapter One: Background The Penan in Ulu Baram Sarawak is the largest of the thirteen states of Malaysia. It is situated on the northwest of the island of Borneo. Some 43% of the state’s population are made up of indigenous communities. Collectively, these indigenous people are known as Dayaks, but within them are many, distinct ethnic groups. They include the Iban, Kelabit, Kayan, Bidayuh, Kenyah and Penan groups. The Penan constitute some 10,000 people, often described as being divided be- tween Eastern and Western Penan. They inhabit some of the remotest areas of Sarawak. The Eastern Penan inhabit areas of Limbang and Baram, whilst the West- ern Penan are to be found in the Upper Rejang region. They may be said to have received a certain amount of local and international attention because of the fact that some of them (around 400, in Baram and Limbang) still attempt to prac- tise a nomadic lifestyle, living in and off the forest. This is unique amongst indigenous groups in Malaysia. Whether nomadic or (semi-)settled, their strug- gle to preserve their culture and way of life has been a constant one, and has been particularly marked over the last fifteen years, as loggers and other land developers have been given concessions over the forest and other areas in which the Penan have long resided and which they consider under their protection and guardianship. The situation faced by the Penan is similar to that faced by the other indig- enous communities in Sarawak. There has been considerable documentation on the various aspects of this situation and the struggles and responses that have ensued. Not least has been the description of how the culture practised by the indigenous groups is viewed with askance by the Malaysian federal and state governments, who seem hell-bent on ‘modernising’ both the cultures and the agri- cultural practices maintained by the indigenous groups. This conflict centres on land. For most indigenous communities, native customary land (including forest areas) is essential for them to hunt, gather and practice their cultivation. It is central to their culture, which sees ‘guardianship’ of such land as pre-requisite for the survival of the communities and their be- liefs. The essentiality of the forest is particularly true for the Penan, who are especially dependent on it for hunting and gathering (including for medi- cines, building materials and resources for utensils). The ‘guardianship’ of the forest and its resources expresses itself through Penan terms such as tana pengurip and molong. Tana pengurip is the concept whereby Penan claim customary land, and carries with it the implication that such land will be held under stewardship for future generations. Tana pengurip defines areas claimed by each community and these areas are mutually recognised and respected. It is also important to note that the Penan do not clear the forest to establish their claim to it. The practice whereby a community or indi- vidual can claim a particular resource is expressed through molong, again with the implication that this resource will not be over-harvested but will be kept sustainable to serve the needs of the present and the future. It is important to note that these concepts, similar to practices of other indigenous groups in Sarawak, reject the concept of private ownership, locating the main responsibil- ity of ‘ownership’ not just with the community but also across generations. This is in direct contrast to the practice of ‘modern’ Malaysia, where land is bought and sold as a commodity and exploited by an individual or a company without much regard for issues of sustainability. But whereas the communities will know the extent and boundaries of the native customary land, the legal recognition of such by the state has become more and more ambiguous and circumvented, so that the present situation is that the state Page 1
  7. 7. authorities have little sympathy with such recognition and are content to sup- port loggers and other land ‘developers’ access to such land. Indeed, as one recent publication argues, there has been a consistent trend not only to change legislation to allow the state more access and control over the land, but har- assment, victimisation and marginalisation of those in indigenous communities (and anyone else) protesting for native customary rights has been constant and even intensified. In this, the mobilisation of state institutions, including the police and the judiciary, has been a feature. At the same time, there has been something of a propaganda war, in which Malaysian federal and state authorities have attempted to paint a rosy picture of the ‘development’ being made available to Penan and other indigenous groups, and blame any resistance on foreign agitators1. There is little balance in the coverage of the actual situation in the local Malaysian media, which often makes it difficult to know exactly what is happening and why. This is one of the rea- sons that this report is now appearing: despite protestations of innocence from Malaysian and Sarawak authorities, there were many reports reaching us that the Penan were facing serious difficulties and were not at all happy with the state government’s treatment of them. The evidence we found in the Penan communities is presented here. Background events It may be helpful just to recap a little on the background events to which much of the evidence in this report refers. It needs to be remembered, for example, that it was by the mid-1980s that log- ging in particular had gathered pace in Sarawak. As admitted by the political parties themselves, logging concessions being given out as part of the political patronage system. No environmental or social impact assessments were done of logging impacts. Land rights issues were ignored and legislation amended to make it easier for the government and logging companies to log the land. There was little or no consultation with indigenous communities and little or no prior warning given to them directly, that their land was about to be invaded and their forests threatened or destroyed. These included the Penan, including the Penan in Ulu Baram. The impact on the communities was, as might have been expected, traumatic. Not only was there considerable confusion about why the government was allowing ‘outsiders’ to log land on which their culture and livelihoods depended, but the way in which the loggers destroyed forest areas, farming areas and graveyards and polluted vital streams and rivers made many in the communities extremely angry. However, when they tried to claim land rights, or negotiate with the logging companies and/or the police or bring their complaints to the relevant authorities, nothing was done and their lands continued to be ravaged. By the late-1980s, many in many communities were desperate. Petitions and pleas for help had fallen on deaf ears. As a final resort, attempts were made to blockade logging roads, to stop the destruction of the land. Penan communities were no exception. For example, by February 1987, Penan in Ulu Baram were issuing a series of ap- peals to the Government to halt the logging of their lands. The mood may be indicated through such statements as “Stop destroying the forest or we will be forced to protect it. The forest is our livelihood. We have lived here before any of you outsiders came. We fished in clean rivers and hunted in the jungle. We made our sago meat [starch] and ate fruit of the trees. Our life was not easy, but we lived it in content. Now the logging companies turn rivers into muddy steams and the jungle into devastation. Page 2
  8. 8. The fish cannot survive in dirty rivers and wild animals will not live in devas- tated forest.” (2) In March, the Penan of the Tutoh river of the upper Baram set up barricades across the logging roads and again called on the Government to halt the felling of their forest. The action escalated so that, within a couple of months, other Dayak groups, including the Kenyah, Kayan, Lunbawang and Kelabit, joined the protest. In June 1987, a tour of a number of indigenous leaders to Kuala Lumpur was ar- ranged by Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM), during which they were able to put their concerns to the Federal Government. However, during their meetings with several ministers and with the acting Prime Minister, they received only vague assur- ances that the matter would be taken up with the State officials. The blockades set up by the Penan and others, and initiatives like the visit to Kuala Lumpur, generated massive press coverage world-wide and helped develop what became a sustained international campaign of protest directed at Malaysian and Sarawak State Governments. These protests highlighted the excessive logging of the Sarawak (and Malaysian) forests and the impact on indigenous communities, cultures and land and human rights. The response at Sarawak level was two-fold. On the one hand, certain initiatives were taken to ‘look into’ the situation and certain monies or publicity given to particular projects or initiatives to ‘help’ the indigenous peoples, especially the Penan. For example, in July 1987 the Chief Minister of Sarawak set up a “Penan Affairs Committee” with responsibility to report on their situation. Later, extensive publicity was given to proposals for a biosphere reserve for the Penan and the amount of money given for Penan projects3. For example, the state government announced a million dollar programme of aid for Penan forest dwellers to be launched early in 1989. In May 1990, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud, adopted two Penan children on his 54th birthday and called for other rich people to do the same. In late 1990, the Chair of the Penan Affairs Committee, Datuk Abang Johari bin Tun Openg, revealed that the government had spent RM 4.4 million to provide basic facilities to the Penan in Baram, Belaga and Limbang. He announced that since 1988, nineteen Penan had been trained as volunteers to help others. Certainly there had been efforts to improve basic facilities for Penan communi- ties, with the added difficulty of the remoteness of many of the settlements and the unwillingness of Penan communities to be relocated. Health and educational facilities were expanded and the use of the Penan Volunteer Force was an effort to reach Penan through training their own children. The overall aim was to teach Penan basic literacy skills, more settled agricultural methods and to equip them for participation in the more modern, cash economy. In addition, there were several programmes where ‘hand-outs’, for example of building materials or seeds, were provided on a one-off basis to some of the communities. It can be noted that some of these initiatives did reach some communities and have some effect, although exactly what needs some detailed evaluation. Other of these initiatives never got off the ground - the biosphere proposal being one such example. Many in the Penan community, as we will see, saw little result of any of these initiatives or promises, and have become somewhat sceptical of government claims that the Penan are being helped. What is for certain is that none of these proposals or initiatives addressed what for many was (and is) the basic grievance: that their land and cultural rights should be recognised. What many Penan saw instead was what was happening on the other hand. Here, a much tougher stance was being taken by the authorities. Legislation was changed and other machinery mobilised to ensure logging and other state-led ‘develop- Page 3
  9. 9. ment’ schemes continued without question. For example, in the late-1980s, secu- rity forces were moved into areas where resistance was most rife, especially where blockades were being set up or had been maintained over a period of time. The law was used. In 1987, seven Penan (including an 11 year old boy) were ar- rested and changed with burning some bridges belonging to a timber company. In October, as part of the Malaysian government’s crackdown against opposition elements, Harrison Ngau, who ran the Sarawak office of SAM, was detained under the Internal Security Act, which allows for arbitrary detention without trial. This was followed by a mass arrest of 42 Kenyah and Kayan natives from Uma Bawang, Baram. They were charged in November under the Penal Code with “ob- structing the police”, “wrongful restraint” and “the unlawful occupation of state land”. In the same month, at the November Sarawak state assembly sitting, the members passed a Forest Amendment bill which made those interfering with logging opera- tions liable to a heavy fine (maximum six thousand Malaysian dollars) and im- prisonment (up to two years). But the protests continued. In late October, 1988, the number of barricades had increased to five in the Upper Limbang and Lawas areas. Three Penan communities, namely Long Kawi, Long Itam and Long Abang, were involved in these new block- ades. A spokesperson from Long Abang said, “We have seen the problems and expe- riences of the other communities affected by the logging activities, and so we are trying to defend ourselves because we don’t want to suffer the same fate.” The logging was slowed down at the blockade areas. And so the arrests continued. Five Kelabit and six Penan were charged under the amended Forest Ordinance. Another twenty-one Penans were arrested, ironically on World Human Rights Day, on 10th December, for blockading a timber road at Long Late, Apoh, Baram. Their blockade was dismantled and twelve of them were charged under the Forest Ordi- nance. Between 12th and 16th January 1989, 105 Penans were arrested on the suspicion of involvement in mounting blockade at two roads in logging areas and in September a total of 117 Penan and Kelabit were arrested for allegedly set- ting up blockades on roads leading to logging areas in Marudi. Blockade examples: Pelutan and Sebatu Some of the testimonies to be found in the next Sections of this report refer to the experience at blockades. Two of the most persistent and well-supported blockades were at Pelutan and Sebatu. The one at Pelutan (in Ulu Segah, Baram) started on 25th June 1991, with 200 Penan people from 18 settlements, mainly from the south of Ulu Tutoh in the upper reaches of the Baram rivers. The large logging company, Samling, had been given a concession to log and the Penan were blockading the logging road as a final effort to ask the company to please leave their land alone. By July, the number of Penan participating in the blockade had grown to some 530. In mid-July, the people heard from a radio broadcast that the state govern- ment would cut basic facilities from communities involved in the blockade. Fur- thermore, it was said that those involved would be imprisoned for 2 months with a maximum jail sentence of 10 years for any subsequent offence. Six truckloads of armed forces personnel from Miri were stationed at Samling company’s base camp. On 24th July, the first blockade was dismantled by the timber company. But a second blockade was immediately put up about half a mile away from the first one. In mid-August, the Police Commissioner, Datuk Mohd. Ghazali Yacob, visited the blockade site and told the people that the forest belongs to the government and that they must dismantle the blockade. In the same month, the villagers Page 4
  10. 10. filed a formal complaint to the Police that a Penan man and woman had been mur- dered. However, there was apparently no investigation or inquiry, one of several reports of serious incidents that seem to have been ignored, as we shall see. In October, the company organised a meeting where they promised the communities rice mills, chain saws, garden tools, compensation for their land and even a proposed salary of RM 600.00/month for each headman, provided the logging was allowed to continue. A deadline was set by the company for the removal of the blockade but nothing happened. On 17th December, the company erected a barricade further down the logging road. Locals are not allowed to pass through to collect forest products or to visit the blockade without a permit from the general manager. Between 10th -16th Janu- ary 1992, as part of his Human Rights Mission to Asia, Canadian MP Svend Robinson visited the Pelutan blockade. Inevitably, his visit provoked a storm of protest from the Malaysian authorities, who later accused him of inciting the Penan to use violence to defend the blockade. On 29th January, the people participating in the blockade were served with three Magistrate Court Orders to dismantle the blockade within 14 days. However, the people remained at the site. On 28th February, over 1,000 Riot Police, armed with machine guns and tear gas, confronted and threatened the lives of the Penan at the blockade. You will read verbatim stories of this incident later in this report: it can be noted that most at the site at this time were children and elderly, because the adults had been persuaded by the National Registry Office to return to their respective villages to make/register their identity cards. The destruction of the blockade was violent. You can read about it below. But no enquiry has ever been held and no official report ever presented on the incidents and abuses that may have been perpetrated on this day. Another major blockade of the Penan was put out at Sebatu near Long Muboi, fur- ther inland from the previous blockade at Ulu Segah, on 24th February 1993. By 3rd March, there were some 200 people at the blockade site. The District Police Officer of Marudi and the Penan Liaison Officer, Hassan Sui, arrived to conduct a dialogue with the people. Officials of the Forestry Department dismantled the blockade. On 30th March, about 300 Penan, mostly those who had participated the earlier blockade, erected another blockade at the same site. On 29th May, a dialogue was held between the Penan, Government officials and the timber company representa- tives. No agreement was reached on the matters. On 16th June, another meeting took place. The timber company promised to build a road to Long Muboi, provide piped water supply and outboard engines. In addi- tion, the timber company would give annual goodwill (money) to the Penan in the area. But the Penan wanted their land respected and their rights secured. No deal. Finally, on 28th September, some seven months after it was erected, the blockade at Sebatu was dismantled by Forest Department personnel after a huge operation was mounted, involving Police Field Force and other state personnel. Tear gas was used and again, you can read reports of the violence and consequences of the state-authorised action against its own people. Eleven Penans were arrested and produced in the Marudi District Court. They were later released without charge. Why our Mission? This recent history seems contradictory. The government claims, that programmes are in place to help the Penan and that their needs are being catered to, stands Page 5
  11. 11. at odds with the fact that so many communities and so many people within these communities have been involved in petitioning the state government on basic grievances and have even gone as far as blockading. The erection and maintenance of blockades is no small matter. To keep a blockade going for several months, as has happened in the case of some Penan blockades, represents a major sacrifice of time and money by the communities involved. Instead of pursuing their normal lifestyle - hunting, gathering and farming (the latter where the Penan are semi- settled or settled) - these activities are pretty much stopped so that the blockades can be protected. This causes further impoverishment and difficulties for the community, never mind the consequences of opposing the companies and the police. It clearly is not something that has been undertaken lightly, and repre- sents an anger and a frustration that obviously has its basis in the situation in which the Penan have found themselves. Why would they need to resort to such action if their interests really are being looked after by the government? Further, there were at this time several reports of violence and injuries (in- cluding fatalities) arising from dismantling of blockades and/or from harassment of certain indigenous leaders and communities. The use of tear gas against Malaysians (resulting in death), murder, rape, beatings and intimidation were mentioned. These are highly serious crimes and certainly do not concur with any rosy picture that ‘all is okay for the Penan’. Given the contradictory nature of reports, it was decided to send a fact-finding Mission to Ulu Baram to see first-hand what the situation really was. The aims of this fact-finding Mission were simply • To investigate the situation in the Ulu Baram area, particu- larly with regard to possible problems faced by the Penan in the area; • To find out any comments of communities with regard to their ‘development’ and, for example, their ancestral land rights; • To verify and /or collect information on any event that may have resulted in a police report, and to attempt to follow-up with the police or other authorities on any such report; • To verify or collect information by directly visiting and in- terviewing people in the communities, including headmen as well as any alleged victims or their relatives or other witnesses; • To compile and analyse the information gathered to establish any persistence of certain violations and/or to establish trends and patterns; • To find out from the communities what kind of redress they want for the violations they have suffered, and what kind of mecha- nism they propose for the negotiation and settlement of their grievances and demands. The first Mission was scheduled to visit the area between 14th -27th November, 1994. However, the team met with a tragedy after the itinerary was only halfway through. At Long Palai, the boat capsized and one of the team members, Justin Louis, drowned. We will always cherish his memory and salute his sacrifice. The second trip took place from March 5th -17th (field) and 18th - 22nd 1995 in Miri and Marudi town for making the police report. Organisations represented in the first mission were Centre for Orang Asli Con- cerns (COAC), IPK, PACOS, SACCESS, the Selangor Graduates Society (SGS), Suaram, KOMAS and BASDA. The second team comprised of members from the first five or- ganisations. Page 6
  12. 12. The second mission visited a number of communities, including Long Suit, Long Sepigen, Long Kerong, Long Sait, Lio Matu, Sunggai Selaan, Long Ajeng and Long Muboi. Face to face interviews with members of the community, together with group meetings (often attended by over 40 people), resulted in a mass of testi- mony and evidence about the conditions faced by the Penan. As well as interview- ing, the team members also inspected sites, dispensed medicine and helped Penan follow-up on various complaints with the authorities. A visit to Marudi was part of this. The testimonies gathered during this Mission are presented in Chapters Two, Three and Four. A follow-up survey was conducted two years later. The results of this survey form Chapter Five. Recommendations are given in Chapter Six. The seriousness of the situation facing the Penan and other indigesnous groups, which has shown no signs of improvement over the years (in fact, the reverse), should be of concern to all Malaysians. These are Malaysian citizens, whose culture and way of life is being extinguished. Their rights as Malaysians and as indigenous people have been ignored. In the same breath that the Sarawak au- thorities are promoting the Cultural Village near Kuching as a major tourist attraction, revealing the rich cultural diversity of the state, they are de- stroying the land and rights of exactly those indigenous groups, including the Penan, they claim to promote. It needs to stop. The Penan and other groups need to be given the room, the space, the right to determine for themselves the future they want. Recognition of their land rights would be a start to this process. Read and listen to their testimonies in the following pages, and please help support them in this. Footnotes: 1 This was, and continues to be, a favourite tactic of the Malaysian (and Sarawakian) authorities. Scape-goating foreigners as a way to avoid confronting the real problems that face the indigenous communities is not an answer, in our opinion. But, for example, in 1993, the Malaysian Government announced the for- mation of a task force (funded by the Malaysian Timber Industry Development Council) with a budget of over RM 10 million to counter anti-logging campaigns and the “lies” of Western environmentalists. Quite what these lies were was never told to the Malaysian people. The facts about how much forests were logged, the environmental destruction caused, and the anger and fate of the indigenous communities are plain for all to see, if interested. 2 Pirates, Squatters and Poachers, Survival International, 1989, p.42 3 On April 26th 1993, Sarawak Forest Department director, Datuk Leo Chai, re- vealed that 52,000 hectares of Gunung Mulu National Park and 12,000 hectares of the Ulu Melana Protected Forests, as well as the proposed 160,000 hectares of Pulong Tau National Park, had been identified as biosphere reserves for the nomadic Penan. A map of the area of special forest for Penan can even be found in the local Malaysian newspaper, the New Straits Times, 19/10/1993. Until to- day, nothing has happened to this scheme. Page 7
  13. 13. Chapter Two: Penan Testimonies Introduction During the Fact-Finding Mission, a number of communities were visited and a number of testimonies recorded. These came from individual interviews and from group meetings. The following are records of testimonies from these communities, and indicate the many, very serious problems which the Penan face across Sarawak. Action clearly needs to be taken by the appropriate authorities, not least in changing the basis on which the authorities ‘respond’ to indigenous communities like the Penan. Instead of telling them what is good for them, and supporting the destruction of their land and culture, the authorities need to put the Penan themselves back at the centre of decisions about the future. If this does not happen, the special culture and unique history of these people will be destroyed forever. A: The Testimony from LONG BENALIH Interviewees (interviewed on 10.03.1995): 1. Tua Kampong Sound Bujang (41), married, 7 children, farmer 2. Rocky Bujang (40), married, 6 children, farmer 3. Henneson Bujang (39), married, 6 children, farmer Long Benalih is a settlement of 16 families, with a population of 82 villagers. The community is situated near the river mouth of Sg. Benalih, at the foot of Gunung Murud. The villagers in Long Benalih are mainly farmers. The community of Long Benalih and Ba Pengaran share a communal forest, as the two settlements are situated close to each other. Samling began their logging operation near the communal forest of Ba Pengaran and Long Benalih in 1992. Shin Yang, another logging company, started its opera- tion on the other part of the forest near the communal reserve in the same year. In June 1993, Interhill started its operation too. The marking of the trees at the boundary of the communal forest had been com- pleted by the villagers in 1989. White paint and zinc plates were put on the tree trunks as identifications. Back in August 1992, when the logging operation was about three miles from the boundary of this communal forest, a group of villagers, led by the village head- man, went to the logging camp of Samling at Camp Kelesa, to tell them of the boundary and warned them that they should first consult the whole village commu- nity before they thought of entering and logging in the forests of Long Benalih and Ba Pengaran. At that meeting, the villagers met Corporal Peter Balang (a Kelabit) and the camp manager, known as Ah Kee and also Sia (a Chinese). The camp manager promised that they would inform the villagers and negotiate first before the company started any logging operation in the area. A note meas- uring two inches by three inches was given by the camp manager, stating his promises. The village representatives trusted him because of the presence of police personnel. However, two weeks after the meeting, villagers of Long Benalih heard the noise of the bulldozers coming from the mountain, and the noise of chainsaws and trees being felled. Immediately, the Headman and a group of villagers went to inspect Page 8
  14. 14. the forest. They found that the company’s concession was already about a mile into the communal forest. The villagers confronted the camp workers but the camp workers claimed that they did not know about the boundary and the promise of the camp manager. These work- ers apologized and turned back. After two days, villagers who were sent out to monitor reported that the logging in the communal forest had resumed. For the next two days, a village meeting was called to discuss the matter. After the meeting, which concluded that they would not allow any logging activi- ties in the communal forest, a group went to check on the operation again. It was found that the company had entered the communal land up to about three miles, close to Sg. Benalih. A road was found to have been bulldozed through the community’s forest reserve and the trees that previously had stood on it had been taken out. Sg. Benalih was now polluted because mud caused by the logging had been washed down into the river. When the villagers reached the site it was almost dark and the timber workers had returned to their camp. The villagers then walked up the road to the bound- ary and tied a rattan across the road and put up a sign to point out the bound- ary. The purpose of putting up this sign was to inform the timber company and workers of the boundary so that they could not plead ignorance of it. At the site, TK Sound Bujang wrote a letter to the camp manager telling him that he must come to Long Benalih to consult the people if the company wanted to log in the communal forest. A date and time was proposed. This letter was put on the side of the road. A few days later, TK Abeng of Long Mobui came to deliver a letter from the logging company, asking for a meeting with the villagers on the road where the boundary was but requesting to postpone the meeting for a week. At the date proposed, which was in October that year, 63 villagers from Long Benalih and Ba Pengaran went to the site. The villagers waited a full day but no one from the timber company turned up. That night, a small hut was erected and all the villagers stayed the night there. The next morning, a land cruiser of the timber company came. The driver and another passenger saw us but, without saying anything, they turned back. At about noon, another pick-up truck that was carrying four persons came. They were timber camp workers and told the villagers that the meeting would now be held in the camp site. However, they also said that it was not permissible for such a big group to go since the truck could only take a limited number of the village representatives. The villagers insisted that the meeting be held where the boundary is so that both sides are clear where the boundary is. The community also insisted that all must take part in the meeting, instead of sending a few representatives for the meeting. The pick-up truck went back to the camp and returned with two other trucks at about two in the afternoon, wanting to ferry all villagers to the meeting at the camp. They company’s spokesperson also promised that monetary compensation were ready for all villagers, while food and drinks are ready at the camp. The vil- lagers refused to go to the camp and the trucks went back. About half an hour later, at least six pick-up trucks arrived at the site. There were about 50 people from the logging company, 50 police field force personnel, Page 9
  15. 15. forestry officers and a SAO (State Administration Officer), Metaib bin Sayu. Henry Kong, a policeman who said that he represented the police force and the forestry officers, told the villagers that he was the leader of the group. He asked why the villagers erected the marking on the boundary and if they were aware that what was done was illegal. The villagers explained what had happened earlier and the camp manager himself confessed that he had earlier promised to negotiate before entering the communal forest. The SAO then said that the company has broken the promise. There was no negotiation after that. The timber camp workers removed the nine units of bull- dozers from the site and they did not return after that. At the end of 1993, when Interhill’s logging operation near the other part of the communal forest was about a mile out, the company’s surveyors marked the trees up to the villagers’ boundary. The villagers sent a team to meet the com- pany’s supervisor, Thomas Ling, and his surveyors on the logging road. The vil- lagers asked to meet the camp manager and a meeting was scheduled at Shin Yang’s logging road, on the other side of Sg. Akar. The manager, only known as Mr. Su, came to meet the villagers and he promised that he would not enter the communal forest to log before he had obtained prior consent from the community. Shin Yang is logging on the other side of Sg. Akar, in the communal forest that belongs to the Kelabit people. “We will defend our land, not allowing the logging company to enter and destroy our land and forest.” B. The testimony from LONG KEPANG Interviewees (interviewed on 10.03.1995): 1. Tua Kampong Sakun Parong (69), married to wife Nyabung Apat, 6 children, farmer 2. Nyabung Apat (65), wife of TK, farmer 3. Robert Sakun (45), married, 3 children, farmer Long Kepang has 10 families and a total population of 46. The settlement is near the mouth of Sg. Kepang and at the foot of Gunung Murud. All the villagers are farmers. Locals have heard that Samling’s logging operation will come in from Long Benalih but the operation has been stopped at the moment because of a dispute with the villagers of Long Benalih. The boundary of the communal forest for Long Kepang has already been marked. Last year, all the villagers took part in the work to put a zinc plate on the trees that are at the border of the communal forest. Since last year, delegations that were made up by appointed villagers went to Ba Kerameu a few times to talk to the Manager of Shin Yang, asking the company not to log in Long Kepang. On the last meeting on 7th January this year, the Compa- ny’s manager, only known as Chia, told the villagers that the company will not log in Long Kepang’s forest unless the villagers have agreed. The TK has wanted to go to Marudi and Miri to meet the government officials to Page 10
  16. 16. ask for recognition of the rights of locals over the communal forest but he was unable to do so because of his health. However, for the past three years, after logging near to Long Kepang started, the TK has sent letters to the District Office demanding written recognition of land rights over the communal forest. A sketch map has also been sent to the authorities. Villagers of Long Kepang have met earlier and it is a collective decision to reject logging operations in forests belonging to Long Kepang. C: The testimony from LONG LAMAI Interviewees (interviewed on 10.03.1995): 1. Tua Kampong Belare Jabu (60), married to Kaseh Jengan, 3 children, farmer 2. Lukas Nyato (40), married, 1 child, farmer 3. Mawa Abeng (40), married, 3 children, farmer 4. Robert Jengan (28), married, 3 children, farmer 5. Jau Bollo (29), married, 4 children, farmer 6. Wilson Bian Belare (23), married, 1 child, farmer 7. Isai Ujang (25), married, 1 child, farmer 8. Ravi Lilin (28), married, 4 children, farmer 9. Noh Bollo (27), married, farmer 10. Lian Adan (40), married, 8 children, farmer 11. Roland Adan (38), married, 3 children, farmer 12. Moni Lian (12), student Long Lamai has 93 families and a total population of 390. All the villagers residing here are farmers. The settlement is situated along Sg. Malong and is at the foot of Gunung Tokong Salip. On 16.10.1994, Lukas went hunting in the forest that belongs to the community of Long Lamai. On the way, he met a group of strangers who claimed that they were surveying the forests in this region. Lukas immediately went back to inform the TK. TK called for a village meeting that night and led a group of representatives appointed at the meeting to meet this team of surveyors, wanting to know their purposes of entering this communal forest without asking for permission. 12 villagers went on the trip the next day. Setting out in three teams, they were TK Belare Jabu, Lukas Nyato, Nyato Engan, Hossien Geng, Baya Asen, Mawa Abeng, Richard Jengan, Robert Jengan, Jaeng Jengalah, Jau Bollo, Killa Taee and Lim Linga. On that morning, they met the 22 workers of Samling company. The villagers in- terrupted their work and asked these workers to take them to see their company manager because the workers refused to tell them why they were surveying the forest. The villagers were brought to the Base Camp of Samling and they met the Chinese camp manager who the workers called Manager Beruang (Loud voice). The Camp Manager agreed to meet the villagers in Long Lamai on 3.11.1994. The manager did not turn up at the meeting and the workers continued with their survey work. Page 11
  17. 17. The villagers had earlier put paint on the trees as a means of identifying the villagers’ forest reserves. But the timber camp workers encroached into the land anyway and continued to do clearing work for a road. On 9.11.1994, villagers went into the forest again. This time, a rope was tied across the path inside the boundary. The rope was found to be cut when villagers went in to monitor. On 27.11.1994, 3 police field force personnel said to be from Miri came to Long Lamai saying that they are investigating a reported case of stolen canned food from a Samling logging camp in Long Metapa. They were: 1. Ketua Inspektor (Chief Inspector) Narizan B. Jusoh; 2. Kpl. 43535 Savan Teging; and 3. C. Kpl. 34585 Emang, all of BN Ke-12, PPH Miri. They said that the timber camp reported that villagers from Long Lamai had sto- len canned food belonging to the camp. All the villagers denied any responsibil- ity and said that it may have been the villagers from Ba Lai who stole the food. They left immediately. On the same day, a group of villagers were asked by the community to put back the rope with a sign on the road to inform any timber camp workers of the bound- ary to the land belonging to Long Lamai. At that time, the road was about 10 feet in width. At the beginning of December, around the 4th, 1994, the Headman of Long Puak, named Singan, of the Sabai tribe, came to Long Lamai asking us to go to a meet- ing with the company. The villagers told him that the timber camp manager was unlikely to be sincere (he had not bothered to turn up at the previous meeting and had accused Long Lamai villagers of stealing from his camp) and so the com- munity was not interested in meeting him at the camp. Singan told the villagers that putting up a rope across the boundary was useless since it would only be taken down by the policemen and the field force personnel. He left after sending this message. Some villagers went to the site to find that the rope had again been removed. On 17.01.1995 and with the agreement of a village meeting, an open letter was written on a board which was erected on the road. The content of this letter read: “A warning that the company should not enter without consultation and permission from the villagers.” This letter was signed by the Village Committee. At the same time, a letter signed by TK Belare Jabu and Penghulu James Keso was hand-delivered by a villager named Jau to the District Officer in Marudi and Hassan Sui in Miri, to inform them of illegal logging in the villagers’ communal forest. They accepted the letter but did not make any comment. The road was about 3 km into the forest then. A second letter (dated 15.02.1995) was then sent to the government authorities (Director of Forestry, Hassan Sui, the Residence Office, Miri Police Headquar- ters, Medical Department and the Chief Minister) asking for recognition of the forest reserves and calling on the government to stop logging in this area. On 16.02.1995, a group of eight villagers went to the site and saw six timber camp workers removing the board that had been erected earlier. Villagers told them to stop removing the board and informed them that the community had written to consult the government and was waiting for an official reply. The driver of a bulldozer called Pandeng (said to be an Iban from Kanowit, Sibu) Page 12
  18. 18. agreed that they should stop the work.The work on the forest has stopped since then. Villagers insist that they want to defend their communal land and forest, claim- ing that it will be hard to maintain the livelihood of the community if the forest has been cleared. They have consistently said that no compensation will be enough for the forest because any amount of money would simply be spent. “We originate from here and for many generations, we have lived well.” “This is our land and forest, passed down to us by our ancestors. It is our duty to keep this land and forest for our future generations.” The Headman, Belare Jabu, said that he was with his parents, who were nomadic, when he was young, wandering in the forests in and around the present Long Lamai settlement. During the colonial times, a British mission came to look for them and advised them to settle down. He was one of the first batch of Penan students who had formal education provided by the British in 1953. He pointed out that life was easy at that time. All the villagers farmed and went into the forest to look for food. Most children went to school. Elders learnt to farm. People were told to farm so as not to be so dependent on the forest alone, and to have food more permanently. “They were good in teaching us to farm. I am not saying that the Malaysian gov- ernment is bad. Because we see our forest being destroyed, we are sad.” “We believe that the government will consider and give us the forest reserve that is ours and stop logging in our area. Otherwise we will have to act to defend our land and forest ourselves.” D. The Testimony from LONG SPIGEN (interviews conducted on 6.3.95) People started to settle down in the present Long Spigen in 1970. Before that, some locals were nomads wandering in the vicinity of this settlement. In 1968, a mission led by Morgan and Lithem Griffin visited the area and brought people to Lio Matoh, where they were given education and were taught to farm. After half a year, some Penan left to settle down in Long Kerong, some in Long Sait while others returned to Long Spigen. In 1972, the District Officer, Edwin Dundang, visited the locals in Long Spigen and gave them permission to stay permanently in Long Spigen. He also agreed on the boundary of their land and communal forest. Interviews were conducted on the farmland of Long Spigen. The farmland is about half an hour’s walk from the village. Here, the locals get their supply of rat- tan, “Sega Sarawak”, mainly growing wild but over which the villagers take great care to ensure their sustainability. Many fruit trees are also grown here. Most of the forest has been kept intact, for provisions and supplies, for example of medicinal herbs. Only small patches have been cleared, most recently for rice fields. Ngedau Idah was asked by villagers to give an account of the history and why the locals claim this land as theirs. He said that during the period of Japanese occupation, groups of foreigners came to investigate the livelihood of the Page 13
  19. 19. Penan. During that time, the people were mainly nomadic, later settling down in Long Spigen. There were no people from other indigenous communities staying in the same area. Singin Lawin, a woman who owns a plot of land here which has been destroyed by logging operation, said that the locals had cultivated and tended the land long before the company ever entered. She said that she had also met the workers of the company and the police field force personnel to tell them that the land is hers and other villagers. “When we put up resistance, they brought in more field force personnel”, she said. She also recalled one instance when a field force personnel pointed a gun at her when she insisted that the land is hers. “Even if we are to die here, we will not give this land to the company”. Perlit Kuda said that one Ngelio Bala, a Kelabit who appeared to be the head of the group of field force that came, warned the locals not to confront the field force personnel. And Pelutan Tiun , the village head, a farmer with 7 children described the following situation: In April this year, families came to prepare their land for planting padi. In May, the logging company (Keresa) entered this area. Before they started working in the area that belongs to Long Spigen, we met them at the logging road near to our farm. At that time, we were told that they were only surveying the land. We told them that this is our area and they should not enter without our permis- sion. We met the manager of the logging company and his supervisor on the logging road three times. There were no negotiations. They insisted that they have the rights to log the forest. At the fourth meeting, the manager and his supervisor came with his workers and a group of about 30 field force personnel. The workers are mainly Iban and they were more sympathetic. They refused to bulldoze our land even though the manager ordered them to do so. The field force personnel then stood in a line between us and the timber camp workers. The Manager himself got on to one of the bulldozer and started destroy- ing our farmland. We could not do anything because the field force personnel were all carrying guns and they ignored our protests. We had to return back to the kampong that day. The next day onwards, the field force personnel came with the camp workers. They stood near the bulldozers while the camp workers bulldozed through our land to make their logging track. Until today, the company did not pay any compensation for the land destroyed. The manager has also refused to meet and have dialogue with us. We did not nego- tiate for compensation because we want to save our land. We do not want to sell our land to the company. We want to find the means to stop the logging operation here to preserve our forest. From here, we get our supply of rattan, medicine and wild boars. This is important to us. Now, the water is polluted, many fruit trees are lost. The animals have left. The camp manager of Samling is known as “Beruang” because he has a loud voice. He is a Chinese, about 40 years old, thin and tall. A senior field force of- ficer, Jebat (as written on his name tag), Iban, about 35, was always seen with the camp manager. He was very rude to the local villagers and claimed to speak for both the company and the government. He said: “This is the government’s plan to develop the area. You should not stop the company’s operation. If you want to stop this, go to Miri and Kuching to talk to the government. If you continue, we will send in more field force. We will arrest those who protest against log- ging.” Page 14
  20. 20. At a meeting in Ulu Sega, Tua Kampong and a group of villagers went to see Balang Seling (former Senator and President of the Orang Ulu Association), Hassan Sui, Resident Miri (a Malay) and District Officer Achee (a Kelabit) to tell them about the problems faced because of logging in the area. They advised the villagers to go to Miri to negotiate for compensation from the logging com- pany. The local villagers have no money to go to Miri. It was heard that the company is trying to get local villagers who are working in town to have a meeting and sign an agreement allowing the company to log the area. The locals were also told that all their names will be written down but signed for by those in town, in the agreement. “How can these people sign for us? They can not represent us because they are not staying in the settlement here. How do they know what do we want? How can they negotiate on our behalf?” E: The testimony from PA TIK Interviewees (interviewed on 09. 03.1995) : 1. Simon Laing (30), married, 2 children, farmer 2. Catherine Tungang (20), wife of Simon Laing, farmer 3. Na Nah (59), single, farmer, brother of TK Melai Nak There are 30 settled families in Pa Tik and there are many more that are semi- settled. Usually, the total population is around 200. The settlement is on the river bank of Sg. Ngela, at the foot of Gunung Batu Tengah, which is part of the Tama Abu Range. KTS, WTK and another logging company called Roud are logging in and around the area of Pa Tik. Their logging operations started six years ago and they have entered the communal forest of Pa Tik for the past five years. A lot of the villagers’ farmland and fruit trees planted in the forest have been destroyed by the logging activities. The water catchment has also been destroyed and the drinking water of villagers in Pa Tik polluted. Seven years ago, a water pipe was laid by the Medical De- partment to tap water from the catchment area but it is useless now. Sg. Ngela has also been polluted because trees on both sides of the river have been removed and mud has washed down into the river. None of the three logging companies consulted or negotiated with us before they entered our communal forest. Over the years, villagers have protested and asked the companies to stop their logging operations but without any success. Early last year, the community applied for a communal reserve for all the vil- lagers and the semi-settled groups. TK Melai Nah himself went to Marudi to see the District Officer and he was supportive. Then he went to see Manager Sih of KTS but the latter disagreed. After the meetings, a group of timber camp workers from KTS came to deliver a rice-grinding engine and an electricity generator. The workers also built a church and a small house for the flying doctor to provide medical services when they come in (once a month). Page 15
  21. 21. In April 1994, five villagers were asked to sign and acknowledge receipt of these gifts from the logging company. The five persons who signed are TK Melai Nah, Noh Lah, Simon Laing, Langup Koya and La Ngau. However, after the signing, Manager Sih told the five villagers that these items were given to us as compensation for the timber that they had extracted from our communal forest and the land of villagers destroyed. And that the paper that was signed was an agreement allowing the company to log in the area. The paper was written in English. None of the five signatories from the commu- nity knew what was written on it. No copy of the agreement was given to the villagers. “If we have understood the content of this agreement, we would not have signed as what was given was definitely not enough to compensate us for the land and forest destroyed.” In February this year, the five villagers were asked to meet the representatives of the company on the logging road and each one was given RM80.00. WTK and Roud have also wanted the villagers to sign an agreement written in English, to receive “gifts” from them. However, the villagers refused to signed as all have learnt the lesson in the KTS’ case. “We do not know what to do. We want to meet the others and learn the methods to defend our land and forest.” A community meeting will be held to discuss on the meeting after the group have travelled and talked with others in the different communities. “We will ask the three companies to stop their operations and save the remaining parts of our communal forest. We will also write to the government again to request that the remaining part of the small forest not logged be given to us as our communal forest.” F: The testimony concerning SRK LONG SAIT Interviewees (all residents of Kg. Long Sait, interviewed on 11.03.1995): 1. Edwin Danyu Unut (32), married, 1 child, farmer, Vice-Chairman of the School Committee 2. Tua Kampong Bilong Oyoi (40), married, 5 children, farmer 3. Yacub Bato (50), married, 8 children, farmer, Member of the School Committee 4. Aya Luding (48), married, 3 children, farmer, Wakil TK (Representative of the Tua Kampong) 5. Joseph Erang (30), married, 3 children, farmer, Member of the School Committee 6. Joseph Panai Pulut (34), married, 3 children, farmer, Member of the School Committee 7. Nyagang Oyoi (35), married, 6 children, farmer 8. Liwih Bato (32), married, 2 children, farmer The primary school of Long Sait was established in 1977. At present, 30 students (all Penan) are studying in this boarding school. It has 4 teachers including a Headmaster. In the school, there are classes from Primary 1 to 6. However, it has only three classes each year; Primary 1, 3 and 5 in one Page 16
  22. 22. year and Primary 2, 4, 6 in another. This year, 27 of the students are from Long Sait, 2 from Long Spigen and 1 from Long Kerong. The Headmaster of the school, Jerad Tajang, is a Kenyah from Long Palai. The teachers are Jumat Akim, an Iban from Sibu, Peter, a Kenyah from Long Atap, and Andy, a Kelabit from Long Seridan. The main roles of the School Committee, made up of Long Sait villagers and the teaching staff, are said to be: - to take care of the students’ welfare in co-operation with the teachers. Com- monly, they have responsibility for things such as caring for the sick children and repairing the hostel where the children stay; - to oversee the supply and distribution of food rations for the children to ensure that the children have sufficient food; - every month, members of the School Committee visit the school to advise the students and the teachers; - members of the School Committee voluntarily take care of the school’s com- pound, cut the grass regularly and maintain and repair the foot-paths in the school. Food supply has been a major problem in the school. The government is supposed to take care of the food for the students and teachers in this school but the contractors for supplying the food have done a poor job through the years. A Kenyah from Long Jeh known only as Jalong is the present contractor. The dis- tance from Long Jeh to Long Sait is a day’s boat journey but the contractor comes only once in two or three months. There are no proper storage facilities in the school so the meat and vegetable go bad after a few days. When there is insufficient or no food in the school, members of the School Com- mittee have to act and try to find food. But this is a poor solution. When the school is faced with this problem, the School Committee usually writes to the contractors to request that they send the food over, the school will be closed and the children sent home. When the villagers have just harvested their padi, the villagers will give rice and will have more time for hunting and farming to supply food to the school. But at other times, when food is also a problem for the local families, the school teachers and the students suffer. It was agreed earlier, with the teachers and the contractors, that if there is no food supply from the contractor, the villagers will supply the rice and other food items needed, the headmaster will issue receipts for the item and the con- tractor will pay for them. Unfortunately, over the years, the contractors have never honoured this promise to reimburse the villagers. Today, many villagers still have the receipts issued in 1993 (some receipts are with the headmaster) which remain unpaid. When the contractor for food supply does not come for a long time and there is no supply from the local villagers, the school children will be given holidays and they will be sent home. Over the past years, the school has been closed on numerous occasions because of shortage of food. The school has to open late after official holidays because the suppliers have yet to supply the food ra- tions; unscheduled holidays are common. Page 17
  23. 23. Because of these irregularities, attendance at the school has been poor. When parents send their children to school, they have to walk a long distance back because there is no food and the school is closed. When they return later, the children may have missed some classes if the school has reopened. It is diffi- cult to inform the students because of lack of transportation and the distances involved. Last year, the School Committee and the teachers wrote a letter to the Education Department, addressing the letter to Mr. Robin Udau in Marudi. The School Com- mittee did not receive any reply from the Ministry. In January this year, an officer of the Education Department came to supervise the examination of the students. Villagers, who are also in the School Commit- tee, requested for an official dialogue. However, there was no dialogue and there was no chance for us to tell him our problems faced in this school. Medical provision for sick children is also a major problem here. Students who fall ill have to be sent to Rio Matoh, which is a day’s walking distance for a healthy person. The flying doctor service is not regular and the supply of medi- cine is always insufficient. There is also no back-up service. There is no boat engine to enable the villagers to send sick students to Rio Matoh by boat. Previously, the government provided radio call services at Long Sait. Five years ago, the service broke down and it was sent for repair. Until today, the service has not been re-installed. There are a lot of other problems too. When a teacher is sent for a short term training course, his classes will be given breaks because the other teachers will not sit in for these classes. Some- times, a teacher will come in to take attendance and then dismiss the class. Students have always complained that they have been ill-treated (physical pun- ishments) by their teachers. For example, a student’s stomach turned blue-black after allegedly being pinched by a teacher. The same student reported that the teachers used the dusters to throw at him and his friends. Many students have also complained that they were not given education. They complained that when they were sitting in their classes, the teachers were talk- ing outside or did not attend to them. Lately, situation has worsened as there are new problems faced. As this is the only school in the region serving the Penan settlement of Long Sait, Long Kerong and Long Spigen, many parents are eager to send their children to this School. The children are willing to attend the classes too, but the School has rejected many of them. A common reason given by the teachers is that the rejected children are more than nine years of age or that they are under-aged. But most of the children here do not have birth registration certificates and there is no way to establish their age. The teachers used their physical size to estimate and determine their age and this has been most unfair to the children, especially for those who were told that they are too old for admission. There is no chance for them to receive education anymore. The Headmaster said that it is the policy of the government and the Ministry not to accept students who are above nine years old. He said that these children must go to the Education Department in Marudi to get a letter from it for their Page 18
  24. 24. admission into the School. The parents have never tried this because they can’t afford to send their children to Marudi. For some students, after attending Primary One for less than six months, they were sent to the Primary Three class. The teachers said that they are too old for Primary One. It is suspected that the teachers want to rush our children through the primary school and this has caused the students to leave school because they cannot catch up with his or her classmates. The teachers have also cited the problem of food supply shortage as a reason to close the registration of our children as students. Last year, there were about 60 students in this school. This year, 30 were sent home as it was said that the food supply is only sufficient for 30 students. Lately, when the children have finished their primary education and have wanted to continue their secondary education in Marudi or Bareo, their application for admission has been rejected when the schools were told that they are from SRK Long Sait. It was said that students from this primary school are not good enough to for secondary education. Page 19
  25. 25. Chapter Three: Blockade Witnesses Introduction The Penan have been trying for many, many years to bring their grievances to the attention of the authorities, through peaceful means. They have approached local District Officers, police and other government officials, they have approached the various logging companies who invade their land, they have petitioned their representatives, they have sent delegations to Kuching to talk to Ministers and the Chief Minister, they have sent delegations to Kuala Lumpur to visit Federal government officials - in short, they have done everything within their means. But there has been little response to any of their grievances, as the testimo- nies tell us. What are called ‘blockades’ then become the last-ditch resort of Penan communi- ties, to stop the invasion and destruction of their land by (usually, logging) companies. The ‘blockades’ are usually a bamboo structure erected across a log- ging road, to stop access of people and machinery. It needs to be guarded by local Penan, and this means that those guarding it have to give up other activi- ties (like farming, hunting or other work). Where the blockade lasts for any length of time (and some have lasted seven months and more), the strain on the local Penan community is obviously severe. It is a huge step for the Penan to erect a blockade, since they know what sacrifice is involved for the community and also know that they face (violent) retribution from the company, backed by the police. The following testimonies present compelling evidence about the blockades. They show the efforts made by the Penan to bring their grievances to the attention of the authorities, and how they have been consistently ignored. They show how the blockade is a last-resort, put up at a time when the company is about to, or already has, started to log land the Penan claim as theirs. They also show the reaction of the police, the authorities and the company: a reaction that is all too often violent in nature, and which, if we follow these testimonies, has resulted in injury and even death to local people. No one has been charged. First testimony Juman Giong (M), originally from Long Lamai (now in Long Kerong) 45 years old, married with 1 child, Farmer The first blockade was in Ulu Sega which was put up on 11-6-1991. Before the blockade, a meeting was held in Long Mobui with Samling. Samling’s manager, Mr. Say, told us to mark our boundary. The manager also said that if any of his workers went beyond that boundary, permission was given to kill them. About 200 representatives from all over Ulu Baram came for the meeting which was held in the Ketua Kampung’s (village head) house. The other people who also came on behalf of the company were Pengulu Langiau from Long San and Mapeng Apui, a Kenyah, also from Long San. At that time no Police Field Force (PFF) or police personnel came. The company also had not yet reached their area. Later the company reached their area and passed their boundary. Before putting up the blockade, we told them about the boundary but they would not listen. We reminded them about Manager Say’s words. When they told Mr. Say about this, he accused us of lying. When we reminded him that there were many witnesses at that time, he fell silent. Page 20
  26. 26. After that we erected the blockade. It was about a half hour walk from Long Mobui. A forestry official, a Kelabit, prepared a summons and sent it through a Malay - Awang Mushidin bin Meng Mohammad. He wanted to give Aijeck the summon but Aijeck refused to take it so he just stuck it to the blockade. The forestry official said that we can be fined two thousand Malaysian Ringgit plus two years jail for putting up the blockade. He added that we will have to pay five hundred ringgit per day for the duration the blockade is up. We told them that their laws do not apply in this area. After that they went back. Two days later, seven police personnel came. They said ‘If you do not dismantle this blockade, we will arrest you”. We replied ‘If you arrest us, we will also arrest you and bring you to the jungle”. (We were not sure who was their leader). They could not arrest us because we also had rattan ‘handcuffs”. After another two days, 12 trucks with PFF and police personnel came. Land cruisers belonging to the logging company also came. The team was headed by Ghazali Yaakob. They accused us of ‘fighting” (lawan) the government. We told them that if we were fighting the government, we would not bring our wives and children with us. The police said that if we do not listen, they will arrest us. We said that if they do that, we will also arrest them. They went back that day without making any arrests. After that, they came everyday. More than eight hundred Penan from all over Ulu Baram and Upper Tutoh were present at one time or other at the blockade. The blockade was made from logs. The company could not carry out logging beyond that area for nine months, which was the duration the blockade was up (June 1991 to February 1992). They also brought the District Officer Asi, a Kelabit, a State Administrative officer, David Kala, a Minister, Balang Seling, Counsellor Gabriel Keling, Pengulu James Keso from Long Lamai and Hassan Sui. They all tried to persuade the people to follow the government line but we refused because we would not know where else to find our livelihood. We said we welcome projects but not those that destroy or trespass on our area. They said we should discard our traditional way of life. We said ‘We do not want to do that because this been our way of life from the beginning. The reason why we reject logging is because the forest is like our bank and supermarket, a place to get money and to gather food”. One and a half weeks after that visit, the logging company and the PFF held a meeting in Long Selaan. It was by then the end of January. As a result of that meeting they wrote a letter to us saying that the company will burn the blockade and send fire engines to spray people at the blockade site. We replied to the letter and passed it to Mandur Jayan. (The letter from the company was lost during the dismantling of the Sebatu blockade). Their meeting was not attended by any villager but a Kenyah man married to a Penan attended it. He later came to tell us about it and try and get his family to go home with him. SAO David Kala brought a letter (court order) to dismantle the blockade within two days. At that time, only Hassan Sui and David Kala came to the blockade. In the letter, written in English (which was read by David Kala, Anderson Mutang, James Barclay and Raymond Linggai), it also said that the ‘PFF boleh bunuh orang (can kill people)”. About two or three weeks after that, the blockade was forcibly dismantled. Many Police and PFF personnel came as well as a towkay from Miri. Police Commissioner Ghazali Yaakob had also come and wrote a letter promising to look into the land problems of Penan. Notwithstanding this, the blockade was dismantled. Page 21
  27. 27. During the dismantling, riot squads (FRU) lined up in their red helmets with white stripes, with similar coloured uniform and shields. The PFF, Forestry personnel, and company workers readied their chain-saws and parang. As they started their chain-saws, they let out a war cry and proceeded to cut the block- ade. About 5,000 personnel came that day. Prior to this, a visit by the Registration Department was fixed for the 27/2/92 to make identity cards in Long Mobui. Most of the people went to register and only about 50 Penans, mostly old people and children, were left at the blockade site that day. In fact, the company and PFF had promised to negotiate with us after those of us who had gone returned from the IC registration exercise, but instead they came earlier, with arms. We could only stand and watch. Some Penans tried to hold on to the blockade but when the dismantlers came with parangs, we asked them to let go. After the blockade was dismantled, they left without a word. The company then entered the area and many farmlands were destroyed. After the blockade was torn apart, people went back home. A meeting was then held on 11/2/93. During that meeting, we decided to set up another blockade in Long Sega on 12/2/93. That blockade was up for only 4 days. On the 4th day, Sergeant Usat Kajan, a Kenyah from Long Semiang, came with (Gembala) Sonny to the blockade. Sonny acted as a translator. Usat Kajan was rude to us. Usat Kajan came back in the evening with a summons and stuck it on the blockade. Immediately after that, he cut up the blockade with parangs. He also brought with him the company mandur, Malang Ajang Wan, a Kenyah from Long Wat. The police were confused because those from the camp and from other places were not clear about the orders to dismantle the blockade. After the blockade was dismantled, the people asked the police and company work- ers: ‘You have dismantled the blockade and discarded the logs, it is only right that we sit down and negotiate”. However, they would not listen and instead asked them to go the logging camp. We refused. A Forest Department official, a tall Chinese guy of slight build aged about 50 years old (Sonny can recognise him on sight), pointed at five people and ordered the police to arrest them. They pulled Sonny but people tried to pull him back. They also held the Police Chief. There was a struggle, but in the end nobody was arrested because the other police personnel did not act. There were about 200 Penans that day. A convoy of 12 vehicle belonging to the company and the PFF were used. The police came in separate vehicle. Sonny also met a Kelabit man from Barrio who made threats and told him that they do not stand a chance against government forces. After the Long Sega blockade was dismantled, we went back. Another meeting was held on February 26th 1993. On February 28th 1993, another blockade was set up in Sebatu, about a kilometre from Long Repo. The next day, March 1st, the company workers came. One of them, an Iban, asked why we had put up this blockade, when we knew it was wrong to do so. We told him that the Ibans in Bintulu have also done the same thing to protect their land. He conceded that and said he would resign from his work. He advised us to make the blockade more sturdy and helped them to pull two logs to block the road! There were about 500 Penans at the blockade site. Page 22
  28. 28. The next day, March 2nd, two policemen came. They told us that it is against the law to put up a blockade. We told them that in Ulu Sega, the police have told us that we can put up a blockade if the company reaches our area. Now the company has already entered the Long Mobui area. The police went back without any other incident. On March 3rd, a police inspector from Miri, Narijan bin Jusoh, arrived with a countless number of police. They told us that if we do not dismantle the block- ade, they will bomb us. The police pointed/aimed their guns at us and warned us that if we do not leave the area, they will shoot us. That time we were a little worried but we told our supporters to keep their stand and be firm. They kept their stand and nothing happened. Later the police went back. The next day, a large convoy of vehicles bearing a large number of police came again, together with Hassan Sui and David Kala. They signed a summons letter and warned us to dismantle the blockade in five minutes. The police divided into two groups. One group approached the blockade while the other went to the sulap/ pondok. A policeman pointed his gun at Malang Ten from Long Ajeng. Malang said “Kalau kau berani tembak saya, boleh (if you are brave enough to shoot me, go ahead)” but at the same time he took out his blowpipe. The police decided not to shoot. At that time, some police personnel were ready to shoot them but Sergeant Usat Kajan stopped them. The police tried to dismantle the blockade but could not get near the blockade because there were a lot of people. But many people were injured because they had formed a human shield against the police and there was a lot of pushing and shoving. However, in the end the blockade was dismantled and a girl, Elizabeth Paren from Ba Kerameu, was hurt when a log fell on her leg. In the lamin were old and sick people as well as children. When the police threw tear gas under the house, many people could not run away. About five cans of tear gas canisters were aimed at the house. The PFF surrounded them so they could not do anything. After the incident, some families went back to their kampung, others stayed in the village for a while then moved to Long Kerong. Everyone was scattered and I and some others had to take refuge in the jungle for three months. The PFF immediately set their camp in the blockade site. They took our tapioca, chickens and other food crops. They flattened the area and further destroyed our farmlands. When they bulldozed the lamin, all our things went missing. Our dogs were also killed. The next day, the PFF came again in a private helicopter. They said they are looking for the blockade leader and that if they see him, they will either shoot or arrest him and throw him in the Pulau. Till now that person is not free to move. I believe the police, company and government are serious about arresting people or inflicting pain on us. I fear that the youths and the rakyat may retaliate if they do that to the leaders. According to the company and the police, if the company enters our land, we can put up a blockade but now they have gone beyond the village. Now the company and the police say that whether people die or not, the company will continue to log the area. For us, we want the government to grant us our forest area, our source of life. We do not want them to repeat what has happened in the past. I heard in the news that we Penan have progressed but that is not true. We do not want people to come and make politics only. They have to do their work well: for example, in Long Mobui, the five government projects promised did not benefit the people. Page 23
  29. 29. The police chief who came during the tear-gassing incident was Luis Sin Sii (Chinese). Also there was Kepala Desa of Long Miri and a Kelabit policeman named Elisa. Thoughts on the incidents Our purpose in setting up blockades is to ask the government not to allow this matter to be repeated. We are worried about the government action and response; they have the power to solve the problem, but in reality they are not only not solving them but are actually increasing the problems of villagers. In all the logging company’s work, the soldiers do not help us but walk in front of the company. They treat us as communists. They cannot do that to us because we are citizens of Sarawak too. In the past, from British rule, the police have preserved peace among the people in all problems. When we think of the present situation, that they don’t help but instead make problems, peace is shattered. They say we oppose the government. We are not opposing the government. If we were opposing, we would bring weapons. The blockades are a sign that we want to negotiate with the government. As a proof that we are not opposing, we bring the women and children to the blockade. It’s a proof to ask for peace for our future generations. In all this, we speak frankly. The Penan are not only in Baram area, and all of us are united to defend our basic rights. They say we are bad people. That’s why the people who work to put up the block- ade, work together and think together in the blockade action. As a sign of sup- port, every village gives RM10 each person to support. That is how we started to ask for help to solve our problems. It came from a decision from each of the 16 villages. Those of us who are present are repre- sentatives to give information to be disseminated to others. Each time we make an appeal, the authorities say we are lying to people overseas. They accuse us of taking pictures of one village only which are used to represent all of Sarawak. All my life, I have walked in Upper Tutoh, Baram, but I have only seen grinding stones for parang. What the government has done has been to give a development that has allowed companies to destroy our land. The land is our bank. If the forest is destroyed, where will our bank be? The worst thing is, if it is de- stroyed, then every person is at risk. If no one helps or pays attention, we will die. Even if at times only one person is present, or talking, or visible, do not forget that s/he represents the whole area of Baram Ulu Tutoh. We work together, we support each other, we represent each other. The government says we cheat other friends for our own interests. In the matter of the blockades, we can show the signatures of those who support the blockades. Those who have been cheated by villagers, can remove their signatures. In all this, we can give evidence. This is evidence that we do not cheat. We have applied to the government for recognition of our land, but they said the area is too big. They said we should ask for land like in town, only a small area. We said, we need wood to make boats and houses. We need a larger area, there are many important traditional medicines. If you think of one type of medicine, it is not just in one place. In one area, there is one type, in an- other area, something else. That’s why it is important to defend this area. One question many ask us is: ‘Why do you follow the customary way of life of Page 24
  30. 30. your ancestors? It is the modern age now, why do you want to look back?” One answer is: ‘You yourself think of your ancestry, what more we old people, we do not forget our ancestry. In our culture, we place importance on our old people, the past generations, and the continuity for our future generations.” During the Ulu Segah blockade, the authorities asked me to dismantle the block- ade. ‘If you dismantle it, you will be given two cars, RM90,000 and anything else you want.” I was not influenced by all these bribes, because if I take, I get everything for myself and none for others. That is why, even though during several block- ades many were arrested, we were of one heart. Because we think of the old, the widows, and others who will have no land. We are not afraid even if they accuse us of opposing, but we will continue our actions because we think of all our ancestors. We don’t think just of the immediate problems, but also of all other problems related to logging. While in Upper Tutoh, we also discussed the problems with the Ketua Kampung. When the logging company came, our daughters were harassed. That’s why we made an appeal before the company and outsiders entered our villages. But in fact we had had an earlier bad experience in Marudi. The Penghulu of Long Lamai had gone to make a report about women from their area who had been raped and made pregnant. The logging company had shown no interest so it was decided to go to the police. But the police instead accused the Penghulu of being in- volved, an accusation which greatly upset his wife. Even though he is a police officer, the Sergeant accused us because the police are friends of the logging company. That’s what makes us so worried, because we don’t know where else to go. We hoped the police and soldiers would help us. But they don’t care about our problems. When we want to see them, they say we oppose the government. In everything we do, we are not opposing the government. They accuse us of this because they work with the logging company. On this we can’t listen to them because our future will be destroyed. During colonial times, we do whatever we can. Now, the government cannot solve our problems like before. Now, logging (the destruction of our land) is the only thing that the government gives to us Orang Ulu. They say we have no rights over our land, only the government has rights over the land. The government appointed the Ketua Kampung but what’s the use if they are not allowed to solve our land claim. We need to work together to defend our area and territory. From before, the Ketua Kampung had rights, and were given the power to do something, but now they say they have no power. They accuse us of being bad - but we’ve been here since God created us. We are not from Indonesia. People from around here say we’ve no rights but the names of the rivers and mountains were given by our ancestors. We can relate their his- tory and the history of their coming here, but when we ask them to tell about our history they cannot do so. That’s the evidence that we’ve been here a long time. Another thing - making farms. Of course we only started recently to make farms but we’ve always been here. If they want us to tell the names of the rivers and mountains, we know them all because we’ve always been here. We talked to a lawyer in Kuching about land laws. He said, ‘If it’s true that your ancestors were from there, where are the documents?” Another lawyer said ‘Don’t worry. They have no schooling, they farm. If they want to find the docu- ments, they will look for them in the museum.” Page 25
  31. 31. We appeal to you: Don’t worry, help us. We do our work but we don’t know where else to turn to. We need friends who know the laws and will inform the Chief Minister. We want the authorities to come and visit us and tell us where the development they talk about is. It is not a development we can see or want. After our experience with the logging companies and the police, we went to see the Chief Minister. We asked whether he could see us. His men answered ‘yes”. We went up and saw him from the window. He asked us to go out and have a good time; when we came back, he had already gone out. We ask those who know the law - is his action proper? Why doesn’t he want to see us? Did we kill someone or do something bad? We had put some hope on him because he is the leader in Sarawak who can solve our problems. He should not hide. If he doesn’t want to see us, it is better to say it at the beginning - don’t say he can see us and then disap- pear. Even though we don’t know the law, he should know and should not hide. That’s why we want to talk about our problems here upriver. The Penan who work for logging companies do not do so because of their own will. They need the jobs and then become part of the company’s politics. Yet even though they are working for the company, they will want to come out to defend the land. We don’t know where to go anymore. We’ve tried all means but they say we have no rights. I myself have no schooling. That’s why we hope someone will help us now. Not after we are dead. Like the time we went to see the Chief Minister, it was fruitless, but we want to continue demanding. How is it that other ethnic groups are given assistance but we are not? We are not selective in asking assistance, whether it is from the Malaysian government or others, we do not selectively ask help from others. We inform people about our problems so that all may know. If we look at the colonisers before, if they proclaim a law, we follow it because it is just. We Penan, we are not stupid - as the government has done to us, we will do to them. But we want the government to change their policies so that there will be jus- tice. In the past, there was assistance for children who went to school, but now we are on our own. Because of this, we hope outsiders will help us. From the begin- ning of our actions, and with the blockades, we have never hurt the police. Even if our breath is no more and we are destroyed, we have never retaliated. Help us. People may accuse us of doing wrong, but we have done nothing wrong. We Penan will be here to witness what we have done. We don’t only look after our own interest but that of all Penans. We are strong in telling what all the problems are that have happened to us. You can see with your own eyes. The jungle and everything else is for all, not just for us. Whatever food we have we share with people who come to us. Even though we have nothing much to give, we urge friends to help us, we urge you to help us. We want to ask you to let others know our situation and the reason we are so desperate. You can talk to other Ketua Kampung, they will tell you the same thing. The government doesn’t even support our appeals for help in schooling and health services. It is very hard. Even though I have a serious illness I am not able to go anywhere for medical treatment because they want to arrest us. This applies to my friends too. Never- theless we will not give up hope but will continue to fight for our rights. Page 26
  32. 32. That’s why we want others and the government to understand our situation, so that nothing like this will happen again in future, so that they will change the laws. Even if they want to bomb us, we will continue our struggle for the land and forest. This is our strongest appeal for help so that our rights are upheld. As I have expressed before, the law is wrong - even the police know it. But when they come to our place, they continue to implement such an unjust law. Even though they say that we are wrong to say that, and that we are wrong to defend our land, we will continue to fight. Like our blockade action before, our diffi- culty was extreme, especially for our children and our wives. Second testimony Jackson Gut (M) from Long Ajeng, Sungai Selaan, Ulu Baram. 30 years old, married with four children. Farmer. During the dismantling of the Long Sega blockade, two people from the Forest Department pulled his right hand until his shirt was torn. Till now, when he moves around too much, his whole body still aches. At the Sebatu blockade Prior to the dismantling of the blockade, I went back to Long Ajeng to get some rice. At about 11am on September 28, while I was on my way back to the blockade together with my wife and children, I met some police personnel about 3 miles from the site. I was immediately arrested by them. My wife and children had to return to the blockade on their own. Five other Penans were also arrested and we were left under the hot sun for 5 hours. Two PFF stood guard over us. The handcuffs were tight but they further tightened them so that until now I cannot grasp a parang or other tools prop- erly. I did not see the tear-gassing incident. About four days before going back to Long Ajeng to get supplies, a Forest De- partment staff elbowed me on my chest and till now it still hurts. One of my relatives was also hurt when a Forest Department staff used his knees to kick his abdomen. After being left under the sun for 5 hours, the PFF brought us to a police car. The others were transported in a company vehicle. I never knew about the other six who were arrested, until later. When we left the place, it was raining heavily. We stopped for a while at the Long Sega logging camp, then proceeded to Kem Pulutan (another logging camp), where we spent the night. We were not given any food and were confined to a house. But they opened our handcuffs. At 6am on September 29, we left Kem Pulutan for Km 10. All along the way, we were handcuffed. At KM 10, we were given some drinks. After that, we were brought directly to Miri where we were given a little food. After lunch, we left for Marudi. We reached Marudi at 4 pm. All this time since the arrest, we had not been told the reason for our arrest. Page 27
  33. 33. While in Marudi, I was questioned. They wanted to find out where I was arrested and the name of the blockade leader. They never once told us why we were ar- rested. While in prison, Edwin from Long Sait came to see us but they only al- lowed him a few minutes and would not let him bring in food. We spent a total of 14 days in prison. Each one of us was interrogated. We were also brought to court three times. When all 11 of us were brought to court the first time, we were completely naked. Lawrence Lawai from Long San acted as translator from Penan to BM. They kept asking for the name of the leader and in whom we place our hope. During detention, I was forced to sign a statement (he did not get a copy of the statement). The police also wanted to know whether our house was near the block- ade. I told him that even before the blockade, our house was already there. Thomas Jalong of Sahabat Alam bailed us out. Each person needed 3 local sure- ties. The police did not use violence but gave us very little food and sometimes it was bad. One Sapok Jawa from Long Ajeng was sick while in prison, but the police did not attend to him. I am appealing to anyone who could help stop the logging and avoid incidents such as that which happened on September 28th. The Malaysian government says we Penans have progressed but the meaning of their progress are bombs and guns, to arrest and to box people. They may say we are lying but you can see it with your own eyes. Third Testimony Deng Laing (M) originally from Long Mobui, Long Selaan, Ulu Baram (now in Long Kerong) 50 years old, married with twelve children, Farmer and Wakil Ketua Kampung (As- sistance Head) of Long Mobui On the Sebatu Blockade I was not far from the blockade. The PFF were pushing people. I was poked by a log. The PFF pointed their guns at the people while shouting at them to dis- perse. I held on to the walls of the lamin. Many women and children were in the house. The lamin was located near the Sebatu River. We went down to the river to negotiate with the authorities but the police gave a letter and immediately arrested and handcuffed six of us. It was about 2pm and the sun was hot but the police threatened to shoot us. From where we were, we could not hear anything besides the sound of chain-saws and bulldozers. I thought many people must have been killed. At about 4pm, we were brought to a vehicle. We were never given any food or drink, and I had almost died by the time we reached Miri. We were sent to the Marudi jail where we were detained for 14 days. During that time, I was interrogated and the police asked me where I was arrested and why I was arrested. I answered that we wanted to defend our forest. They also asked which government do we put our hope in. I told them we do not do what we do because of hope for another, but to protect the forest and land for our children and grandchildren. I was interrogated for about 20 minutes, twice, during my detention. Page 28
  34. 34. The lock-up was about 10 feet by 15 feet and all eleven of us were kept together in it. There was a toilet but they gave no blankets and we had to sleep on cold cement floors. I was sick many times, but they only brought me to hospital when I complained of severe headaches and fever. My son and wife are also strong. Because they are like tigers, we can bear our pain and still look after our land, but it is an uphill struggle. We only ask that our rights and our culture be respected. The PFF are still present in Long Mobui. There are about 6-7 personnel stationed there, the majority with the logging company workers at the end of the road. They say they are looking after the forest which they can use for building a school and clinic but all they do is fish (pancing)and eat. We do not have the power to chase them out. This will happen in the whole Baram area. If the gov- ernment wants to give us the clinic and school, just give it to us. Don’t take away our forests in exchange. Fourth Testimony Lipang Ake (Juman’s wife), originally from Long Lamai (now in Long Kerong for last 2 years). 40 years old, married with one child. Farmer He was present at the Belingan, Ulu Sega, Long Sega and also the Sebatu block- ade. Before setting up the blockade at Long Belingan, a soldier came. I held on to my child who was only 4 years old at that time. The soldier told us that if we put up the blockade, they will shoot to kill. My husband (Juman) answered that if that is what the government says, they can go ahead and shoot. They retracted and said that they do not want to kill. He said that if that is so, why did they say they want to shoot us. After that they went back. After two or three days, they came to tell us that they want to arrest us. At 5 pm, on a Friday, the PFF came and immediately arrested all the men. The wives and children tried to follow those arrested. During that time, a Forest Department staff tried to stop me from boarding a truck used to transport those arrested, but I pushed him aside and boarded the truck where my husband was. All the people’s belongings and dogs were also in the truck. Many people vomitted while inside the truck. When we reached Long Banyuh, we were asked to get down while those arrested were brought elsewhere. We were told that next day someone will pick us up. The next day, the company workers brought us back to the blockade site. The next day, we went back to Long Kerong. We did not have any food on our jour- ney and were very hungry. When we reached Ba Kerameu, a family member gave us food. Only then did we re- gain some strength. After that we waited for our husbands to be released from detention before going back together to Long Kerong. Page 29

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