Penans write S'wak Energy's CEO to halt Baram Dam

Date of publication: 
21 April 2012

Six Penan communities have sent letters to Sarawak Energy Berhad’s (SEB) CEO demanding an immediate halt to the Baram Dam project on their ancestral land, said Bruno Manser Fund (BMF).

In a statement yesterday, the Swiss-based NGO said the residents of Long Lutin, Long Pakan, Long Lilim, Ba Abang, Long Kawi and Long Item have all sent letters to Torstein Dale Sjotveit, SEB’s CEO from Norway.

“My husband, my children and my brothers and sisters; we will not survive if they build the Baram dam.

“It is better to kill us with a knife right away than to build the dam”, BMF reported an old woman at Long Lilim saying.

“They tell us that the dam will bring development. But how can drowning us be development?” said another.

Earlier BMF had reported that the 162 metre high dam in northern Sarawak would flood a rainforest area of 412 square km (41,200 hectares) and at least 26 indigenous villages, displacing up to 20,000 locals residing in the area.

The NGO slammed Sjotveit for “forcing such mega-projects through without the agreement of the affected communities”, that it said violated international conventions such as the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the Equator Principles.

BMF also alleged that the locals have neither been consulted on the project nor given any information about the flooding of their native lands.

The NGO quoted Long Pakan’s headman saying, “If they want to develop us, they should build a proper road for us, clinics and schools. This is what we want. We don’t want to be flooded.”