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

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Angry tent people mob Gillard on Aussie Day

In one of the most dramatic moments to celebrate Australia Day, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard lost a shoe and was dragged by his bodyguard when an angry mob of indigenous people rounded up a restaurant in Capital Hill hunting for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

Bodyguard bundles up Julia Gillard from the angry mob

The prime minister and the opposition leader were in The Lobby restaurant to present the national emergency service medals  as part of the Australia Day celebrations.

The drama unfolds as the celebration began. A man in black T-shirt emblazoned with Aboriginal flag watched the proceedings through the restaurant’s glass façade. Then  a woman barged in to scatter petals of roses before she shouted when Gillard was presenting 26 service medals.

About half of the 200 protesters circled the restaurant, banged the glass windows, and chanted “shame” and “racist” while calling for Abbott to come out.

About 200 protesters from the Aboriginal Tent Embassy nearby have gathered to mark its 40th founding year today. A series of cultural performances and entertainment has been planned through the weekend to celebrate its founding but marred by such an “extraordinary” incident.

A series of events has been planned to mark the 40th founding year of the tent embassy

The protesters rounded up and stormed The Lobby to confront Abbott following the opposition leader’s comment earlier during the day. The SBS said Abbott has called for the disbandment of the tent embassy noting time has changed and therefore it is no longer relevant. The SBS quoted Abbott as saying, “I can understand why the tent embassy was established all those years ago,…  think a lot has changed since then, and I think it probably is time to move on from that.”

Riot police came to rescue Gillard and Abbott while trying to pacify protesters. But protesters said they stormed in to confront Abbott without knowing he was with Gillard. They insisted Abbott incited the riot, not the Aboriginal people of the tent embassy. Towards the end of the day, the protesters are demanding for Abbott’s apology.

News Link: Asian Correspondent