Sunday, September 13, 2009

Who are the Penans?

The Penans are a small Sarawakian community of about 12,000 people, living in the remote upper reaches of the Baram and Rejang rivers. The so-called “development” brought in by the logging and plantation industries have resulted in endless grief for the Penans, though the opening of the rainforests has brought immense wealth to a few politically-connected individuals.
Even as you read this, there are a few Penan blockades in the Baram region where they try to challenge the might of the bulldozers with their blow pipes and their bodies. In the Bakun area in upriver Rejang, some 3,000 Penans are suffering from an acute shortage of food because of failed crops and destruction of their food source in the jungle.

The rape of young Penan girls may still be going on.

Please do not for a moment think that the Penans are far away, out of sight, and therefore out of mind. They are like you and me, fellow Malaysian citizens who should benefit from the fruits of independence and development. Be aware that these people are our fellow Malaysians.

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