Saturday, June 30, 2012

Ibans Begin to Resist


Land-grabbing in Sarawak is getting out of hand. Three hundred residents from the 60-door Rumah Umpolin in Ulu Niah were issued with a 14-day eviction notice. The order to move out of their more than 40-year-old homes by June 26 to enable oil palm company Medan Mestika – a subsidiary of WTK, that is linked to Chief Minister Taib Mahmud – to usurp their farmlands without offering a single ringgit for compensation.

This has caused alarm and anger among the natives.The soon-to-be-displaced Ibans have now declared “war” on the “enemy” (i.e. Medan Mestika). They have also begun a non-stop Miring ceremony at their longhouse to prevent any disruption of their homes. The ceremony included the slaughter of two pigs and feasting was offered to friendly onlookers, including reporters.

According to the Sarawak Report on June 26, 2012, villagers had strung up traditional amulets and talismen that cursed anyone who dared to enter with instant death. Laid out on the ground were sinister skulls and symbols, ancient signs of spiritual evocations. I read that dangerous, ancient ghosts have now been summoned from their graves to launch against the enemy, in this case the drivers of the modern bulldozers expected at any minute.

If land-grabbers persist to take over native lands with the connivance of local authorities, it is a matter of time before Sarawakian natives will find themselves becoming squatters in their own state.

Given this gutsy challenge, the eyes of many in Sarawak and elsewhere are likely to remain on this defiant little community and to watch how they fare against Taib’s bulldozing business cronies. It is not the sort of resistance Taib’s tycoons have been used to up to now. But maybe times are changing in Sarawak. Maybe, the Ibans are ready to fight back.

And that is what Germany didn’t do well in their Euro 2012 game against Italy! Yup, they lost 1-2 and exited from the competition.

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