Marking One Year of Baram Dam’s Cancellation

Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) Jaringan Selamatkan Sungai-Sungai Sarawak

Miri – A year after their land earmarked by the government for the Baram dam was given back to them, the Baram villagers gathered to celebrate their victory and solidarity in defending their river and land.

The celebration brought together folks from various villages in Baram and other parts of Sarawak to the Baram dam blockade site at Km15 in Long Kesseh. The festivity was held at the campsite which was built in 2013 to accommodate the protestors who manned the blockades for more than three years. Instead of the usual and constant shouts of “Stop Bararm Dam!” which used to echo in the remote jungle terrain, the protests are now replaced with the soothing sound of the sape and the traditional songs complete with dances and modern music.

The celebration was held in conjunction with the International Rivers day which is globally celebrated on the 14th of March, and received support from all ages, all of whom spent the night in the natural surroundings. They were joined by supporters from the nearby villages.

After more than five years of resistance from the villagers of Baram against the dam, the government under the leadership of the late Chief Minister Adenan Hj. Satem, gave back the land to the people. The cancellation of the gazette in acquiring the land for the dam was published on the 18th of February 2016. The late Chief Minister Adenan Hj. Satem announced in an interview on the television, “There will be no Baram Dam.” The Baram dam which is now cancelled would have flooded 26 villages and forcefully displaced a population of 20,000 indigenous Kenyah, Kayan and Penan living in the area.

The gazette for the proposed dam covered an area of 41,200 hectares, approximately one and half times the size of Penang Island. “The youth of Save Rivers applauds the Chief Minister Datuk Amar Johari Tun Openg for his commitment to sustainable development that focuses on the local communities.

The youth depends heavily on healthy rivers and intact forests. Thus, the sustainable management of our natural resources is paramount,” says Caroline Nyurang, Save Rivers Youth Program Chairperson. Peter Kallang, the chairman of SAVE Rivers commented, “The villagers are grateful for getting their land back. They are still thrilled by the decision made by the government which was at that time led by the late Chief Minister Tan Sri Dauk Amar Hj. Satem.

We sincerely hope that our new Chief Minister Datuk Amar Johari Tun Openg will continue the policies set by his immediate predecessor in developing the rural areas and pursuing alternative energy sources.”

Peter Kallang, Chairman of SAVE Rivers joining the Youth for a group photo.

For queries please contact: Peter Kallang H/Phn: 013 833 1104