Bob Brown honours three outstanding greens

The Bob Brown Foundation honours three outstanding environmental defenders at the Third Annual Environment Awards at a ceremony in Hobart today.

The Environmentalist of the Year 2014 was awarded posthumously to Joseph Roe, a Goolarabooloo man from Broome, Western Australia, for his lifelong work to protect the environment and cultural sites of the Kimberley.

Joe Roe and Bob Brown (Photo: Supplied)

Joe Roe and Bob Brown (Photo: Supplied)

Roe is known for his lifelong fight for the Goolarabooloo people, including the march towards stopping Woodside Petroleum from wrecking his land from massive gas hub.

The award with a $4000 prize money was given to Joseph’s wife Margaret Cox and daughters Rekeesha and Kerstin Roe. Bob Brown said, “Remove ‘law boss’ Joe Roe of the Goolarabooloo people from history, and the massive gas factory planned by Woodside Petroleum for north of Broome would by now be wrecking the Kimberley coastline, including the world’s largest humpback whale nursery, the world’s largest dinosaur footprint and traditional burial and ceremonial sites.”

Brown confessed he was struck by the man’s integrity and defiance of the odds to save the country he loved.  “Roe defied the money, arrests, threats and compulsory acquisition of his people’s land for a higher goal: the integrity of Aboriginal culture and the Kimberley’s remarkably pristine environment. He died within months of gaining victory for his country but his fighting spirit remains to inspire everyone else faced with the destruction of country or neighbourhood.

The Young Environmentalist of the Year 2014 was awarded to Peter Hammarstedt, captain of the Sea Shepherd ship Bob Barker.

Bob Barker Operation Relentless crew  portait ©Marianna Baldo / Sea Shepherd AU Ltd

Bob Barker Operation Relentless crew portait ©Marianna Baldo / Sea Shepherd AU Ltd

The award carries a $2000 prize money and was awarded via Skype, the foundation said.  Hammarstedt lives in Sweden and was unable to attend the event

Brown said Hammarstedt’s courage under extreme pressure from the Japanese whalers is commendable and legendary noting his feat to protect marine wildlife in the Antarctic two two ago.

Hammarstedt’s led the helm of the Sea Shepherd’s Bob Barker between two aggressive vessels: a Japanese whaling factory ship and a South Korean tanker in Antarctic waters two summers ago. “That heroic manoeuvre was crucial to saving the lives of hundreds of whales but was only part of Peter’s years of commitment to protecting Earth’s oceanic commons,” Brown said.

The Deni Greene Award 2014 was awarded to Alan Pears, of Brighton, Victoria.  Thes award, including $2000 prize money, is presented in honour of the late Deni Greene and recognizes an outstanding contribution by an environmentalist in their professional field of work.

Alan Pears

Alan Pears

“In addition to his outstanding ongoing professional and practical commitment to a more sustainable relationship between our human herd and this one life-giving planet, Alan was a great friend and fellow intellectual of Deni Greene’s. I know that she would be delighted that Alan is the 2014 recipient of the award honouring her own life’s work”, Brown said.

Awardees Profiles

Environmentalist of the Year – 2014
Joseph Roe

Joseph (Joe) Roe was born in Broome on 24 April 1966, the youngest of nine siblings.  He spent his childhood under the guidance of his grandfather, the late Paddy Roe at Jilburnon and Millibinyarri. Paddy taught Joseph about the importance of his law and culture, respect and protection of country.

As a teenager, Joseph attended Nulungu College in Broome, but realising school wasn’t for him, returned to live with his grandparents in the bush.

In 1983, Joseph met Margaret, they got married, and had two daughters: Rekeesha and Kerstin. They moved to Millibinyarri to live.

During this time, Joseph established the CDEP program and his whole family took part in improving their community.  Although very busy, Joseph would still find time to drive out to country to ensure no damage was being done to the environment and cultural sites.  He fought for many years to try and stop motor bikes and vehicles driving over the sand dunes, and installed bollards to prevent traffic destroying burial sites and the environment from Broome to Bindiangoon.

In 1988, his grandfather Paddy Roe, established the Lurujarri Walking Trail, to look after the country between Minyirr and Bindiangoon.  Since then, Joseph and his family have welcomed thousands of visitors, Australian and international, to walk, camp, fish and share traditional knowledge and stories along the way.

In the early 90’s, Joseph was involved with the Rubibi Native Title Claim for Broome and continued to work tirelessly to protect country.

In 2013, the community campaign led by Joseph and the Goolarabooloo people against the giant gas hub at Walmadan (James Price Point) finally prevailed, with the proponent, Woodside, withdrawing their plans.

Joseph died in 2014, aged 47 and is survived by his wife Margaret Cox and daughters Rekeesha Roe and Kerstin Roe.

Young Environmentalist of the Year – 2014
Peter Hammarstedt

Born in Sweden, Peter, 30, joined the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society as soon as he was old enough to submit an application. He works as the Director of Ship Operations for Sea Shepherd Global and is a Director on the Board of Sea Shepherd Global and Sea Shepherd Australia Limited. Peter has a background in Media and Communications from Stockholm University.

In his 11 years with Sea Shepherd, Peter has sailed the seven seas under the leadership of Captain Paul Watson, from the foreboding Labrador Coast to the treacherous Antarctic Continent, using direct action to save as many lives as possible from illegal whaling, sealing and destructive fishing practices.

Peter believes that in their capacity to suffer, animals are our equals, and that when a government fails in its responsibility to uphold the law, then it is the responsibility of compassionate people to fill the enforcement vacuum.

Peter has crewed on nine consecutive Antarctic Whale Defence Campaigns and for the past three years, Peter has been Master of the The Bob Barker.

On the 2012-13 Antarctic Whale Defense Campaign, The Bob Barker, under Peter’s command, was rammed on several occasions by the factory whaling ship Nisshin Maru. Sea Shepherd successfully prevented the whaler from refueling and the campaign succeeded in preventing the slaughter of 932 whales.

Deni Greene Award – 2014
Alan Pears

For more than 35 years, Alan Pears, 63, has been an inexhaustible champion of energy efficiency in Australia.
Originally a school teacher in the 1970s, Alan made the most of an opportunity to advance the cause of energy efficiency when he was appointed the head of the Melbourne Energy Efficiency Centre, run in the early 1980s by the Gas and Fuel Corporation.  When the Victorian Government took over the Centre, Alan moved into working for the government on energy efficiency policy and programs.  Since then, Alan has advised governments and the private sector throughout Australia, using his unique combination of detailed technical knowledge and deep research coupled with a highly effective ability to explain technical matters clearly and simply.  Alan’s enthusiasm for energy efficiency is contagious and he has inspired generations of university students, many of whom have also become energy efficiency champions.
His field of work, energy efficiency, was close to Deni Greene’s heart, as was his way of advancing the cause: through clear communication, provision of practical information, and the development of public policy based on solid foundations.
Whether through appliance energy labelling, building regulation or his many articles and publications, his work has touched people’s lives, empowering them to make better informed decisions that have direct benefits for the individual as well as raise the standard of energy efficiency overall.

Alan has been recognised over the years with numerous awards including a Centenary Medal in 2003 and a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2009.

See also: Asian Corrrespondent

 

 

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Murum dam protesters seek Malaysian diplomats to help

This is an ongoing development in Sarawak, Malaysia. – Ed.

Malaysian diplomats stationed worldwide are now sought to intervene in the controversial Murum Hydroelectric Project, one of the 12 mega-dams undertaken by the Sawawak Energy Berhad.

Indigenous people around the said river are getting desperate day by day to save their land and property, but there seems to be no aid in sight to ease their suffering. They have explored all means to get the attention of the government and local media, but not enough.

Last week, a group of about 27 international NGOs and activist organizations joined forces in an attempt to help. The office of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Rzak has remained silent despite a letter calling for his intervention. In a letter dated November 11,  the NGOs have written the prime minister expressing concern over the situation of Indigenous Penan women, men, and children who are peacefully protesting at the site of the Murum hydro power project.

The NGOs are now set to  deliver a  signature campaign against the maltreatment of indigenous Penan protestors in the Murum Dam. The campaign containing complaint against harassment, intimidation, and violation of human rights will be sent to Malaysian embassies worldwide on November 25.

Led by the Borneo Project, International Rivers, Bruno Manser Foundation, and SAVE Rivers, the complaint is part of the effort to get the direct attention of Malaysian consulates asking to intercede and to stop the ”maltreatment, abuse and disrespect of indigenous communities” protesting against the construction of the dam. According to the Bruno Manser Fonds, the indigenous groups are asking for the withdrawal of police and to allow human rights observers as well as lawyers to access the area.

The protesters have been cordoned off by a barricade of armed police since November 5, the letter added. Lawyers, human rights groups, medics, media personnel and convoys carrying basic supplies of food and water for distribution all have reported that their access to the site has been blocked.

Information regarding the health and wellbeing of families inside the security perimeter is nearly impossible, according to Borneo Project. This raises concern over the conditions of those who are vulnerable, including younger children and the elderly.

Intimidation, threat, arrest, detention and criminalization of members of the Penan families seeking justice against forced displacement are clear violation of  the rights with respect to freedoms of expression, association, and peaceful assembly, the groups said.

The list of NGOs provided by Borneo Project:

  • Accountability Project, International
  • Accountability Counsel, International
  • Human Rights Watch, International
  • Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation, International
  • Green Advocates, International
  • International Rivers, International
  • Asian Indigenous Peoples’ Pact, Asian Region
  • NGO Forum on the ADB, Asian Region
  • Pesticide Action Network-Asia Pacific, Asian Region
  • Borneo Resources Institute (BRIMAS), Malaysia
  • Jaringan Orang Asal Semalaysia (JOAS), Malaysia
  • The Sarawak Native Customary Land Rights Network (TAHABAS), Malaysia
  • Malaysian Damn the Dams Action Group, Malaysia
  • Pacos Trust, Malaysia
  • SAVE Rivers, Malaysia
  • Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM)
  • Malaysia Tenaganita, Malaysia
  • Association for International Water Studies (FIVAS), Norway
  • Borneo Project, USA
  • Bruno Manser Foundation, Switzerland
  • Burma Partnership, Burma/Myanmar
  • Cordillera Peoples Alliance, Philippines
  • Huon Valley Environment Centre, Tasmania
  • Korean House for International Solidarity (KHIS), Korea
  • Movimento dos Atingidos por Barragens [Movement of Dam Affected People]
  • Brazil Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum, Pakistan
  • Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo
  • Ecuador Shwe Gas Movement, Burma/Myanmar
  • Sierra Leone Network on the Right to Food, Sierra Leone

Blog Link: The Green Journal at Asian Correspondent

Malaysia: Petitions to stop mega-dams fall on deaf ears

The construction of 12 multi-billion dollar dams in Sarawak looks to be going ahead despite petitions lodged by indigenous people to the Malaysian government. Now the case is calling the attention of the United Nations to look into violations of indigenous people’s rights.

Two road blockades have been erected in a desperate effort to stop trucks and machineries that are building the 1,200 MW Baram Dam. One blockade was erected near Long Lama, on the shores of the Baram River, with a second blockade near the proposed dam site, according to NGOs monitoring developments.

The blockades aim to show resistance to the dams and to pressure the Malaysian government to stop the destruction of local communities ahead of a UN meeting in Geneva where the Human Rights Council will discuss Malaysia’s human rights records.

Anti-dam protestors at IHA 2013 Congress held earlier this year. (Photo: Supplied)

The Baram Dam is the fourth of 12 dams that will displace up to 20,000 people and submerge a rainforest area of over 400 km sq.

Peter Kallang, spokesperson for Sarawak’s SAVE Rivers Network, said it is unacceptable that any work should commence before an Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) has been carried out.

Indigenous communities including Kayan, Kenyah and Penan are also calling on all employees of Sarawak Energy and its contractors to halt work for the planned dam. The communities have installed camps near the blockades with the intention of staying indefinitely to protect their rights and their ancestral lands.

Indigenous families who were forced to leave their longhouses in Murum found out that there is no replacement housing provided as promised.

Protestors against the dams. (Photo: SAVE Rivers)

The Bruno Manser Funds earlier said the construction of the Murum dam would not have been possible without support from Western engineers and managers including Hydro Tasmania, a state-owned Australian power supplier which provides technical advice on dam construction.

Apart from the petitions sent to the Malaysian government, the BMF has also organized an online petition to build international pressure against Sarawak‘s Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his plans “to flood the rainforest and to displace indigenous people.”

The online e-petition will be sent to the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, to the Sarawak state government, and to Sarawak Energy Berhad and RECODA (Regional Corridor Development Authority), the executing agencies.

The BMF has asked the prime minister to intervene in the Murum Dam where impoundment started to displace people last month but, so far, the petition has been ignored. Related article here.

Blog Link: The Green Journal at Asian Correspondent

Malaysian PM urged to intervene amid Sarawak dam tension

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has been asked to intervene in the escalating tension surrounding the Murum dam project in Sarawak.

A police squad was dispatched to the dam site to confront the barricade opposing Sarawak Energy Berhad’s (SEB) hydro energy project.

A police officer fires his gun in the air at the Murum dam blockade site. (Photo: Supplied)

About 30 police officers reportedly bullied 300 protestors on Thursday. Ngang Buling, chairman of the Peleiran Murum Penan Affairs Committee was arrested and brought to the Belaga Police Station for questioning in relation to his involvement in the blockade. A police officer fired a shot in the air to disperse the protesters, sources said. Following the arrest of Ngang, the protesters also asked the police to arrest them. Some of the villagers chased the police vehicle carrying Ngang who is to be held at the station for four days.  SAVE Rivers is reported to be dispatching a human rights lawyer to take care of the case.

On Friday, Buling was released on bail but will face court next month on criminal trespass charge, local media reports.

Protesters marched to the dam site following the impoundment of the dam which started on September 22. According to anti-dam NGOs who contacted Asian Correspondent, residents were not given notice while resettlement agreements have not been put in place.

Earlier, representatives from the Penan community affected by the dam went to Miri to lodge a police report against SEB and the Sarawak State Government for impounding the dam without giving them notice.

Penan people’s representatives at a local police station. (Photo: Supplied)

Community spokesperson Lugan Usang from Long Tangau said in a press statement that the safety and livelihood of his people are at risk. Above the Murum dam, there are still many Penan and Kenyah communities that have yet to move and are still living at their respective villages of Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa, Long Singu, Long Malim, Long Wat and Long Umpa.

Houses, livestock, farms, fruit trees, and other livelihood are said to be at risk without notice of compensation from Sarawak Energy or from the Sarawak government. If destroyed, there would not be any evidence to claim compensation, Lugan said. The spokesperson also pointed out that the Penans and Kenyahs are not ready to move because the resettlement site at Metalon has yet to be completed.

“The crops and fruit trees which were promised to us by the government to sustain our livelihood have yet to be planted…. The same goes for the school and the clinic, it is not built yet. How are we going to live at Metalon?” Lugan asked.

SEB confirmed  communities directly affected by the proposed Murum Dam Project consists of 353 households with 1,415 people (as of August 2011) comprised of 335 Penan households with 1,304 Penan and 18 Kenyah Badeng households with 113 Kenyah.

The site of the Murum hydro power dam. (Photo: Supplied)

Penans chase SEB CEO  Sjotveit

The Penans chased Torstein Dale Sjotveit, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SEB out from the dam site for failing to meet the demands of the Penans and Kenyah communities.

The Penans accused Sjotveit of being arrogant with no interest at all in negotiation. They said he wanted the blockade to be dismantled and the protesters driven from the area. The Penans chased him out of the site instead, which forced the police to intervene and to take Sjotveit away to a secure location.

Resettlement solutions

SEB has released a 168-page Resettlement Action Plan (RAP) document containing compensation policy by the government. The properties eligible for compensation include longhouses, crops including fruit trees, grave yards, community halls and churches, as well as land.

Most of the key elements of the compensation package were approved by the government in February 2011 and communicated to the affected people, according to the energy company, although local communities say there was no public consultation.

Residents are left on the sidelines while they watch incoming trucks to the dam site. (Photo: Supplied)

However, the Sarawak Report detailed a dark side of the plan which is tantamount to “ethnic genocide“.

A clandestine copy of the RAP reportedly shows that the proposals do not represent any “fair compensation for the displaced hunter-gatherer communities who have lived in the Murum territories for generations and who have lost their jungles and livelihoods to logging, oil palm and soon floodwaters”.

Furthermore, the proposed level of compensation consists of a monthly allowance which falls far below poverty levels even in Sarawak. “State assistance of just RM500 per family (US$157) will run out after just 4 years,” the report said.

Alternative media also reported the hidden details of the RAP which ”tell the shocking truth about the lives of the Penan and their total neglect by the government that plans to wipe out the land which has been their home and provided their livelihood for generations.”

The Penan protesters are urging the prime minister to intervene and to immediately stop the impoundment and displacement of people.

Blog LInk: The Green Journal/Asian Correspondent

James Price Point gas dream is dead

The Western Australian Supreme Court declared today the James Price Point  (JPP) gas plant is illegal after it found that the WA Environment Minister and the WA Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) have acted illegally in the assessment and approval of the massive project.

The court’s announcement puts the final nail in the coffin ending the elusive Dubai dream. In April, Woodside Petroleum’s announced it is dumping its $45 billion LNG investment in JPP after it found the project to be economically unviable.

Wilderness Society WA Campaign Manager Peter Robertson said JPP is now dead and buried and that WA Premier Colin Barnett must face the facts, drop this unhealthy obsession, and quit the compulsory acquisition process.

Victory for Goolarabooloo Traditional Owner Richard Hunter (Photo: Damian Kelly)

Victory for Goolarabooloo Traditional Owner Richard Hunter (Photo: Damian Kelly)

The Wilderness took the action with Goolarabooloo Traditional Owner Richard Hunter. The people of Broome and the Traditional Custodians supported the action and rallied in opposition to the WA Government and some of the world’s biggest resource companies.

Hunter said the EPA lied to the community, but truth and justice prevail. “Today’s court ruling shows that we will do what it takes to protect the Song Cycle, this country, for future generations. Our people are strong – we are still fighting for our culture and country, we won’t be bullied into a corner by the government,” he said.

Robertson said JPP or Walmadan should remain with its Traditional Custodians to be managed for its extraordinary landscape, wildlife, and culture.

The failure of the gas project shows two things: It highlights the environmental and cultural significance of Walmadan while it underscores the importance of independent environmental assessment.

Traditional Owners Neil McKenzie, Albert Wiggan and Joseph Roe stand up against Woodside’s proposed gas hub at James Price Point. (Photo:Julia Rau)

The case also demonstrates that the States cannot be trusted to protect their own natural heritage and that the Federal Government needs to maintain an environmental oversight, the Wilderness said adding that this ruling sets a bold precedent and is a stark reminder of why final environmental approval powers should not be left in the hands of the States.

Further, the Society is wary that business and investor confidence will be severely eroded around the country as environmental approvals are overturned by the courts or spend years tangled up in legal action as evidenced by the JPP ruling.

National Director Lyndon Schneiders notes that Federal Opposition leader Tony Abbott  made his party’s position clear on approval powers being handed to the conflicted and under-resourced States.  He said the States cannot be trusted to look after environmental matters of national significance.

Wilderness Society’s Perth crew at Woodside’s AGM in April to celebrate the dumping of Kimberley gas hub. (Photo: Wilderness Society)

Wilderness Society’s Perth crew at Woodside’s AGM in April to celebrate the dumping of Kimberley gas hub. (Photo: Wilderness Society)

Without Federal powers to override the irresponsible decisions of the States, the Great Barrier Reef, the Franklin River, the Daintree Rainforest and Fraser Island would all have been destroyed.

Recently, the Environment Defenders Office (EDO) also released the ‘One Stop Chop’ , a report containing an assessment how State governments failed to enforce effective environmental protection laws without an overriding Federal laws.

Blog Link: Asian Correspondent