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July 27, 2010

Sarawak’s Chief Minister faces UK protesters over Penan

Filed under: Human Rights — Pengayau @ 6:08 am

 

Taken from Survival International

 
 

Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud faced protests by supporters of the Penan in the UK today, while British MPs have written to him expressing concern over the newly documented cases of sexual abuse of Penan women.

Protestors from Survival and other organizations greeted the Chief Minister in Oxford this morning, where he had travelled with cabinet colleagues to give the keynote speech at the Inaugural Oxford Global Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum. The protestors held placards reading ‘Penan tribe say NO to logging’ and ‘Malaysia: Stop destroying the Penan tribe’. The protest forced the Chief Minister to enter the building through a side entrance.

The chairman of the British parliament’s All Party Parliamentary Group for Tribal peoples, MP Martin Horwood, has written to Taib Mahmud on the occasion of the Chief Minister’s visit to the UK. ‘The Penan have frequently been subject to violence and intimidation at the hands of loggers operating on their land… Without recognition of their land rights, the Penan are struggling to provide for themselves, and are left vulnerable to violence and exploitation’.

Mr Horwood urged the Chief Minister to ‘halt logging and other developments on the Penan’s land without their free, prior and informed consent, according to international law’ and to ‘ensure that Penan women and girls are protected from sexual violence and the perpetrators of such abuse brought to justice’.

Download a copy of the All Party Parliamentary Group’s letter to the Chief Minister

 

Protest against one of Asia’s greatest kleptocrats

 One of Asia’s greatest kleptocrats and single-handedly one of the most destructive forces against the environment, the Chief Minister of Sarawak, East Malaysia, Abdul Taib Mahmud, has been invited to present the opening address at the Said Business School’s inaugural Islamic Branding and Marketing Forum, July 26 (Monday).

During his 30 years of iron grip over Sarawak, Taib Mahmud has systematically plundered a country once rich in natural resources, oil and timber. He and his family are now multi-billionaires, while indigenous tribes resort to the law courts to reclaim their ancestral lands.

The Penan are struggling to keep his loggers out of the last corners of their jungle, one of the most precious remaining areas of biodiversity left on earth. A recent report has revealed shocking evidence of their treatment, including the systematic rape and abuse of their women by logging workers, an outrage that Taib has refused to acknowledge or investigate.

Taib has destroyed all but 3% of the Borneo jungle in the state, which had been handed all but intact into the care of his uncle, his predecessor. Habitats which are home to the Orang Utan, proboscis monkey, a plethora of unique plant and animal life have been destroyed due to his rapacious and unsustainable plunder of the jungle. Oil palm plantations span for miles and miles where ancient trees once stood before they were cut down. One would think that proceeds from exports would have been ploughed back into the state but the people of Sarawak remain some of the poorest in Malaysia.

Taib’s “business interests” are notorious. The whole state of Sarawak has been illegally absorbed into the possession of his cronies and family members through “privatisation” and the handing out of palm oil and timber concessions, via arbitrary state acquisitions of native lands. He now runs the state as a family business, maintained through systematic electoral intimidation and fraud.

Taib has laughably advertised his UK visit as a promotion of “green development” in Sarawak and will be focusing on the promotion of Islamic and halal products, his latest venture, during his visit to Oxford. But, we ask – just how “halal” are products produced under the auspices of this man ?

It is a standing disgrace that Oxford University should be extending a hand of welcome and supporting the status of such a man. His wealth and ability to endow is not in doubt; however, there is no possible basis of legitimacy for such wealth, as can only be plainly apparent to all his hosts.

The people of Sarawak are struggling to rid themselves of this man and his parasitical family and to preserve their unique environmental heritage from his further “business ventures”.

Please lend your support to their struggle and to the campaign to preserve what is left of the Book of Life and the Borneo Jungle’s natural wealth. Defend the rights of the indigenous tribes that rely on the rainforest for their livelihoods. Demand that Taib explain the source of money that has enabled him to purchase multi-million pound properties in Canada, US and the UK.

Be there to receive him and protest at the disgraceful invitation that has been extended to him by Oxford University and the Said Business School.

The writer is from Survival International

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