Indigenous Blockades Spread, Halting Construction of Baram Dam

Indigenous protestors in Sarawak are continuing a blockade started last week in protest of the construction of the Baram Dam, one of Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s planned mega dam projects for the region. Another group protesting downstream has been able to prevent Sarawak Energy workers from accessing the road to the Baram Dam, effectively halting its construction.

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Heavy police presence in downstream Long lama and fresh blockades by natives in upstream Baram has turned the area into a hotspot of demos. 

BARAM: Native protestors who chased out 30 Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) workers doing geological studies at the Baram dam site last Wednesday, have set up fresh blockades on the access road into the construction area.

The indigenous landowners set up two blockades and appeared to have successfully prevented workers in the area from returning and pursuing their work on the proposed dam.

Swiss based Bruno Manser Find (BMF) in a statement today said the native are demanding an immeidate halt to all planning and costruction works at the dam site and its access road.

The proposed Baram Dam which is being developed by the SEB a state government linked company would affect up to 20,000 indigenous people and submerge over 400km2 of rainforest, according to BM.

In the latest protest, over 100 native landowners from upstream communities had set up their blockades at the site.

On Wednesday Oct 24 they confronted and cased 30 workers from carrying out geological surveys at the site. The following day they persuaded another 29 workers to stop working in the area.

The protestors are bent on flushing out the remaining SEB workers on the dam site.

Meanwhile downstream from the dam site, another group of 100 natives have erected a blockade near Long Lama.

This blockade has prevented cement trucks and workers from constructing the access road to the Baram Dam.

As a result, the works on the Baram dam access road have now completely been shut down.

Taib’s 12 dams plan

The ‘showdown’ has also resulted in a heavy police presence.

The construction of the Baram Dam is part of Chief Minsiter taib Mahmud’s extensive plan to build 12 dams in Sarawak to support the needs of the Sarawak Corridor for Renewable Energy (SCORE).

The Murum Dam, the first, is almost complete and the resettlement of the 1500 affected people has begun.

Some Penan communities, however, are resisting. They set up a blockade on 17 September and are willing to stay there until their demands for fair compensation are met, according to BMF.

Fresh blockades, warnings to SEB workers
FMT Staff | Free Malaysia Today
October 27, 2013