Penan scale up blockades against logging giant Samling

Penan elders from Long Pakan set up blockade against timber extraction from their forest – the second blockade against Samling in the Baram region within a month

(LONG PAKAN / SARAWAK / MALAYSIA) Multiple Penan communities from Sarawak’s Middle Baram area set up a blockade to stop logging giant Samling from entering their forest. Headman Pada Jutang and elders from the Penan village of Long Pakan have struggled with Samling over the logging company’s encroachment into their land for over two months. This week, the headman travelled to Long Lama to lodge a police report. The resistance occurs at the same time as another blockade in the Upper Baram region built by the Penan village of Long Ajeng. Both blockades protest operations run by timber giant Samling and highlight the lack of community consent.
Pada Jutang, headman of Long Pakan, disagrees with Samling’s logging activities in the area: “We request Samling to leave immediately and not to be given any timber certification in our area. We erected a blockade to prevent Samling from further encroaching into the NCR land of Long Pakan. We are not happy when the company continues to work because the forest will vanish, forest products are difficult to find such as sago, rattan, medicines, game is also difficult to hunt and the polluted water and soil erosion cause the fish to die.”
In late August, some villagers from Long Pakan observed that Samling cut the first trees: 109 logs at Ba Nyepangah. Subsequently, headman Pada Jutang lodged the first police report in Long Lama and the village elders erected a blockade at Ba Nyepangah. Since the 22nd of September, the blocked has been dismantled and reinstalled various times. The villagers and Samling currently face a standoff at the blockade site. Headman Pada Jutang travelled to Long Lama to lodge a second police report on the 5th of October.
This is not the first area within the Penan territory where communities set up blockades to stop Samling from logging this year. Since March, the community of Long Ajeng and their neighbours in the Upper Baram area have been trying to prevent Samling from entering their forest through dialogue, letters to the authorities and a police report. Nevertheless, the company continued the timber extraction and as a result, the villages set up a blockade in September that brought the logging activities to a standstill.
Since last year, many Indigenous communities within Samling concessions have complained about the lack of consultation. Samling has rebutted all complaints. Instead of coming to the table for a sincere dialogue, they instead filed a defamation suit against Save Rivers, a Sarawak civil society organization.

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