Monday, October 19, 2015

‘Foreign’ natives help Sarawak natives fight against dams

‘Foreign’ natives help Sarawak natives fight against dams 

 by Joseph Tawie
QUICK TAKE: Indigenous groups from several countries are in Baram to help local natives fight against the proposed construction of Baram dam which will displace 26 longhouses and villages and some 20,000 people.
Anti-Baram dam groups have invited these indigenous peoples from Brazil, Honduras, Chile, the Philippines, Myanmar, Indonesia, Australia, the US and the Wintu tribe of California to see for themselves how the natives of Baram and Belaga have suffered due to the construction of mega dams.
For the past two years, the anti-dam groups have also brought their case to European countries, America, Australia and the United nations.
“This time we invite these indigenous people to come here so that they can see for themselves how we have suffered.
“We want to compare notes with them and learn from one another how to fight against these suppressive regimes,” said Peter Kallang, chairman of SAVE Rivers Sarawak.
Like the natives of Baram, Belaga and Bengoh, these indigenous peoples from these countries have also fought against their displacements, disruptions of lives and sufferings caused by mega dams.
He said that a special programme has been arranged for the visitors.
Starting Oct 20, they will proceed to Ulu Baram and have a workshop, spend the night with blockaders and visit the site of the proposed Baram dam.
They will attend the second year anniversary of the blockades against the proposed Baram dam and the moratorium of works on the project.
The climax of the visit will be a one-day “World Indigenous Summit on environment and Rivers” (WISER) event to be held in Miri on Oct 24, where representatives from these countries will speak of their struggle against their own governments over the construction of mega dams.
At the end of the conference, a joint declaration will be issued.
Peter said that the joint declaration would be submitted to their respective governments and to the United Nations.
The declaration would represent a united front of the indigenous people around the world against the construction of mega dams which have affected the livelihoods of the peoples, their economic and social well-being, he said.
“Hopefully, the visit to Baram by these indigenous peoples from other countries and the  joint declaration should send a clear message to the state government that the Baram dam should not be built as it will damage not only the environment, eco-system but also disrupt and displace the lives of the natives.
“Some 20,000 natives would be displaced and resettled elsewhere,” said Peter.
“We have seen how globalisation and technology have enabled us to see the exploitation of forests and rivers. Using the same technology, we should also be wiser and smarter in fighting against mega-dam construction,” he said.
On July 30, Chief Minister Adenan Satem announced a moratorium on works for the dam.
While the villagers in Baram welcome the moratorium, they still maintain blockades to stop logging activities in the proposed dam area.
The native rights on land proposed for the dam site and its reservoir have been taken from them via gazettes issued by the government.
“The people have appealed to the government to revoke the logging permits and the gazettes and only then will the natives review the relevance of the blockades,” said Peter.
Otherwise the blockade will continue into its third year, he warned.
Great that there is so much friendship in protecting another tribe's land rights. Greedy, unscrupulous people who would build a white elephant DAM using state funds so that they could profit from the super excessive -exaggerated cost of building the DAM. The Bakun Dam is not even fully utilised and yet these people want MORE and MORE DAMs. Damn their Dam efforts! The CM of Sarawak should ONCE and for ALL revoke, CANCEL these state depleting projects once and for all!!!

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