Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Part 2: Damn the Dams

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As the Penan blockade continues, another protest has already flared over another SCORE project – the Baram Dam.

The 1,000MW Baram Dam will flood 412 km2 of forest, ninety percent of which is Native Customary Land and in the process, submerging more than 26 longhouses and displacing more than twenty thousand inhabitants – a majority of whom are the Orang Ulu natives comprising Kenyahs, Kayans and Penans.

The natives came together to voice their unhappiness. They were united in their opposition to this project – clearly, they do not want the dam to be built. They demanded that the government find an alternative approach for development which will not deprive the people of their existing land and properties including their village houses, orchards, gardens, cash crops and land.

According to the Chairman of SAVE Rivers, Peter Kallang, “We in the SAVE Rivers Network have just come back from our visit to various longhouses in Baram. At our meetings with them and during private interviews which are electronically recorded (on audio and video), practically all of the villagers do not want the dam to be built.”

Peter stressed that he does not want to see their community and church leaders being used and abused by the government to force the people to accept the dam project.

“We do not want this sort of destructive project which permanently destroys the environment and deprives our people of their land and properties. This is not the so called ‘development’ we want,” he added.

A small but determined group of natives has even landed in peninsular Malaysia to garner support among Malaysians here.


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Can you recall the 2,400MW Bakun Dam project which has shown itself to be a major fiasco not only in terms of insufficient demand for its electricity generated but a disaster for the 10,000 indigenous peoples who were displaced from their traditional ancestral land to the slum conditions of the resettlement scheme at Sg. Asap?.

According to International Rivers, the Bakun dam, which was finished in 2010, put 700 km2 of virgin rainforest and prime farmland under water. An estimated 9,000 native residents, mainly from the Kayan/Kenyah indigenous group, were relocated and were forced to pay close to US$15,000 for homes, despite being subsistence farmers with no previous participation in the Sarawakian economy.

Malaysians must step forward to give support to our Sarawakian brethren!

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