Despite facing police intimidation and harassment, and being denied access to food, water, and medical care, the protestors in Murum will not back down on their demands. Read more below about these protesters in Murum and their families protesting in the Malaysian capital.
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KUCHING: While a group of natives from Murum are currently in Kuala Lumpur exposing to West Malaysians the severity and urgency of their situation, their families are continuing with the blockades insisting that the state government meet their demands.
Penan and Kenyah community lawyer Abun Sui Anyit said today that the protestors in Murum will not backdown on their demands despite the police intimidation, harrassment and the authorities having severed access to food water and medicines.
“They basic demand is RM500,000 in cash and 25 hectares of land per family.
“If the government does not meet their departments, the communities will take the government to court,” he said.
According to Anyit, the government had made many promises but these were all words reported only in the media.
“There was no any direct correspondence with the indigenous people,” he said.
About 1,500 Penan and Kenyah natives from seven villages in the area are adversely affected by the Murum dam.
Residents from three villagers were forced out of their homes when the main contractors Sarawak Energy Berhad allegedly began impounding the 944MV dam without informing them.
Meawhile in Kuala Lumpur, a 13-member Penan delegation from Murum have been going around explaining in detail their setbacks at home.
Yesterday morning they handed over a memorandum to Bukit Aman, urging Inspector General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar to intervene and stop his officers from abusing their power against the Penans.
They later went to parliament and handed over a second memorandum urging Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to respond to Suhakam’s six recommendation.
Last night the group shared their plight at a talk yesterday organised by a coalition of civil and women’s rights NGOs led by All Women’s Action Society (AWAM).
Layu Karam, representingthe Penan women, said promises the government made to them had not materialised
“They took us away from our homes and dumped us at an abandoned oil palm plantations, with none of the promised amenities such as schools or clinics.
“They gave us a few sacks of rice which hardly lasted for a month. Now we have no food and have no access to the forest and the river that once provided food for us,” said Layu.
On Monday, a US-based coalition of 29 NGOs from around the globe, expressed their shock at the treatment of Penan women, children and men who were peacefully protesting at the Murum Hydroelectric Project site since September.
The coalition calling themselves, The Borneo Project, said intimidation, threats, arrests, detentions and criminalisation of members of the Penan families seeking justice against forced displacement were “in clear violation of legally guaranteed rights” with respect to freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly and called for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to intervene.
Last month the Sarawak Baram Penan Women Association (PWPBS) urged the federal government to look into the plight of the Penans on issues facing healthcare, education, transportation and training programmes within their community.
The PWPBS submitted a memorandum to the federal government through the Sarawak state office which is responsible for overseeing Penan community affairs.
The group also claimed that Penan community affairs minister John Sikie Anak Tayai failed to reply requests made to him to address issues pertaining to the welfare of the Penan community.
Meanwhile another activist, Peter Kallang of SAVE Rivers Network said today that the Penan’s in Murum were in a dire state and that the Sarawak State government had engaged in talks about Murum dam project in secrecy.
“The project came to light only because one of the Chinese investors had posted about it on the internet. Until then nobody knew about the project establishment.
“You canot say this is just a Sarawak problem anymore, this is now a national problem and if you look at the impact of a dam on the environment, this is an international problem because you’re going to drown one of the most bio diverse parts of the world.
“What they are going to do is to destroy the whole thing… This damage is irreversible,” said Kallang.
Mangor, William and P. Ramani. “Penans: We will sue if govt ignores demands.” Free Malaysia Today. 21 Nov 2013. <http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/11/21/penans-we-will-sue-if-govt-ignores-demands/>.