Baram natives willing to defend their rights and fight the dam
Participants at the training in Long San
The SAVE Rivers Network organized a workshop from 17th to 19th of May to educate the communities of Baram about their rights in the context of the planned dam in the area. The participants' resolution was published today by the SAVE Rivers Network:
Participants of workshop in Long San strongly oppose the proposed Baram Dam Project
LONG SAN, BARAM – About 60 participants, representing their respective villages from Upper Baram, Patah, Akah and Silat rivers strongly voiced their objection to the proposed Baram Hydro-electric Dam Project after attending a 1 1/2 day workshop organised by Save Sarawak’s Rivers Network (SAVE Rivers) at Long San village.
The workshop, entitled “Empowering the Community to Assert their Rights”, objective is to educate the communities affected by the proposed dam project on their fundamental rights under the Federal Constitution, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the concept of Native Customary Rights (NCR) under the Sarawak Land Code.
The workshop also touched on the topic of good governance, government policy on customary land development and encouraged the participants to voice out their concerns and demands with regards to the proposed dam project.
SAVE Rivers is happy to note the positive response to the workshop which began last Thursday evening (17 May) and ended on Saturday (19 May).
During the group discussions, most of the participants raised the issue of not being consulted by the relevant authorities or from Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) and their consultants.
The participants were also angry with the way their community leaders, elected representatives and Senator Lihan Jok are “bulldozing” their way through with the said project and lying to the public that the people of Baram have accepted it.
Equally appalling to the participants of the workshop is when they found out through the local media that Sarawak’s Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu announced that the resettlement site for the affected villagers have been identified somewhere near Murum and Bakun area when only a few weeks ago, Senator Lihan was quoted as saying that the proposed dam is still a proposal and the decision to approve the said project is still pending. From the outcome of the workshop, the resolution made by the participants are:
1) They strongly oppose the proposed Baram Hydro-electric Dam Project and demand that the project be scrapped;
2) They demand that all the survey and drilling works done by SEB or thei rcontractors or their agents be stopped immediately;
3) They want their voices to be heard and their rights to be respected;
4) They totally disagree with their community leaders or community associations such as the Federation of Orang Ulu Association Malaysia (Forum) which says that the people of Baram have already accepted the proposed dam project;
5) They do not want people who are not affected by the proposed dam project to make statements and decide on behalf of their community;
6) They do not want their customary lands, crops, properties, burial grounds, and ancestral sites to be flooded;
7) They do not believe that the proposed dam project will benefit them as the issues of Batang Ai, Bakun, Bengoh and Murum have yet to be resolved by the authorities; and
8) They demand that community leaders who are only interested to listen to their political masters and not the voices of the people to resign immediately
The participants have also signed a protest letter and will forward it to SEB and the relevant authorities.
SAVE Rivers will continue to conduct workshops and roadshows throughout Baram District to educate the people of the proposed dam project.
The villages that were represented were Long San, Long Liam, Long Na’ah, Long Selawan, Long Anap, Long Selatong Dikan, Long Selatong Tanjung Tepalit, Long Tap, Long Je’eh, Long Beku, Long Bee, Long Apu and Long Moh.
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