Not Development, but Theft
2001-05-29 | This is a documentation dated from a Fact-finding Mission conducted in more than 15 Penan communities in 1995, a compilation of the continued struggles between 1995 and 1999 and an update on the situation in these communities towards the end of 1999.
The testimony of Penan communities in Sarawak
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 information 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 trampled on, their culture denigrated and lost, and their efforts to clarify, negotiate 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.
Hear communities testified how lives continued to be affected, what logging continued to bring instead of the promised development, how the paramilitary police responded to blockades, and how public facilities such as educational and health services had not improved etc.
Hear also four cases, two with statutory declarations involving alleged murder, death due to tear gas, and the rape of an underaged girl, that are still awaiting justice.
An updates on the communities' situation from 1995 till 1999 testified how little, if any, had changed in so far as the justice sought by the people and instead, the affected communities described the many problems facing the Penan.
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