Baram dam: NGOs demand written guarantee from Sarawak government to stop project

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File photo: The Save Rivers group has been active. From left: Peter Kallang (Save Rivers chairperson), Abun Sui (Gasak president), Philip Jau (BPAC chairperson), and Khamsul (Forestry Department in Miri) receiving a memorandum

Coinciding with the second anniversary of Baram blockade, we, the 24 civil society groups signing this statement, strongly demand the state government of Sarawak to immediately stop the Baram Dam development project with a written guarantee and to stop encroaching on Native Customary Land.

Although Chief Minister Adenan has verbally instructed the suspension of this project, people of Baram would continue their resistance movement until the final written guarantee is presented by the state government.

We would like to reiterate that the local villagers have never been consulted prior to commencement of the dam project. It indicates a violation by the state government of the development principles of “free, prior, informed consent” stated in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

This mega dam project would force 20,000 indigenous people to relocate and would annihilate their heritage and cultures. An area as large as Singapore would be flooded, posing long-term environmental destruction. Not only should the state government halt the Baram dam project, all 12 mega dam projects proposed under the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) should also be cancelled.

Baram people have been stationed at the two camps, namely Long Lama and KM15 over the past two years to prevent staff and contractors of Sarawk Energy Berhad (SEB) from going into the project construction site. Last year at km-15, 14 confrontations with the SEB occurred in three months, during which SEB personnel were expelled and machines moved away. A huge hole was also dug at the main road heading to the construction site.

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The state government must recognise the perceived meaning of ‘development’ by indigenous villagers. They would never accept any form of exploitation of natural resources, let alone of their ancestral land and rivers. They demand sustainable development – the provision of basic infrastructure and a democratic life without sacrificing environmental ecology and culture.

Therefore, the mega dam project at rural Baram should be replaced by the construction of amenities (roads, schools and hospitals) as well as the supply of electricity and clean water.

Signatories:
1. Baramkini
2. Damn the Dams Action Group
3. Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy
4. Pusat KOMAS
5. Center for Orang Asli Concern
6. Institut Rakyat
7. Rainbow Genders Society
8. Institute for Development of Alternative Livestyle Lifestyle (Ideal)
9. Civil Rights Committee of KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
10. Malaysian Youth and Students’ Democratic Movement (Dema)
11. Persatuan Masyarakat Selangor & Wilayah Persekutuan (Permas)
12. Tindak Malaysia
13. Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
14. Sahabat Rakyat
15. Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet)
16. Save Rivers
17. In Between Cultura
18. Community Information and Communications Centre (Cicom)
19. Bukit Bandarraya Residents Association
20. Focus On Sarawak
21. Aliran
22. Johor Yellow Flame (JYF)
23. Sunflower Electoral Education (Seed)
24. Ban Cyanide Mining in Raub

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Kenneth Kok
17 Nov 2015 12.15am

A wise move…….