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Basel. 10 March 2005


Bruno Manser, the advocate of the rainforest, officially declared dead

With a ruling issued on 10 March 2005, the Basel civil court declared
that Bruno Manser, the Swiss advocate of the rainforest and human
rights activist, is presumed dead. Thus, five years after his traceless
disappearance in the rainforest of the Malaysian state of Sarawak on
Borneo, Manser is now considered to be legally dead. The Basel Civil
Court stated that the declaration is retroactively effective as of 25
May 2000.

The court proceedings to declare a person as missing and presumed dead
in the case of Bruno Manser were initiated in autumn of 2003 at the
request of Manser's family. Manser's last sign of life was a letter
dated 23 May 2000 and written to his girlfriend from a place close to
the village of Bario in the vicinity of the border between Sarawak and
Kalimantan (Indonesia). At the time, Bruno Manser was on his way to the
area of the Adang River and to the Penan nomads with whom he had lived
for six years. Numerous search expeditions were unable to find any
evidence of Manser's fate.

Bruno Manser, who was born on 25 August 1954 in Basel, will be
remembered as one of the most untiring and credible protagonists for
the preservation of the globally threatened tropical rainforests and
for the rights of the Penan people. The exceptionally gifted and
versatile Manser, who was active in various professional fields, left
in the summer of 1984 to live with the Penan, to study their culture
and to share their lives in the midst of nature. The Penan nomads are
one of the last people on earth who live exclusively from hunting and

During his stay in Malaysia, Manser was witness to the ruthless
clearing of Borneo's primeval forests by local logging companies. He
helped the Penan to organise civil resistance and established contacts
with the international media. Following his return to Switzerland in
April 1990, Manser continued his engagement and appeared on behalf of
the Penan in Japan, Great Britain and at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio
de Janeiro. He became especially well known in Switzerland for his
60-day hunger strike in front of the parliament building in Berne in
1993. At the end of the 90's, Manser drew attention to the still-urgent
problems of the tropical forest with various spectacular stunts,
including a paraglider landing near the residence of the Chief Minister
of Sarawak in March 1999.

Manser was awarded various prizes for his political engagement. The
life he experienced with the Penan is described in "Tageb'cher aus dem
Regenwald" (Diaries from the Rainforest), published by the Christoph
Merian Verlag in Basel. A biography written by the Basel journalist
Ruedi Suter and entitled "Bruno Manser -- Die Stimme des Waldes" (Bruno
Manser, the Voice of the Forest) will be published by the Zytglogge
Verlag in Bern in the autumn of 2005.

The Bruno Manser Fonds (BMF), with its office in Basel, is continuing
the work started by Bruno Manser and his commitment to the indigenous
people of the tropical forests. The most important effort at present is
the "Community Mapping" project by which BMF is helping specially
trained Penan teams to map their traditional areas of use in the
forest. The resulting maps will serve as the basis for claims regarding
land rights before local courts.

For further information:

Lukas Straumann, Director, Bruno Manser Fonds, Basel
Tel. +41 61 261 94 74

Kaspar M'ller, legally appointed guardian of Bruno Manser
Tel. +41 61 261 93 20

Ruedi Suter, Author of the biography "Bruno Manser -- Die Stimme des
Tel. +41 61 321 06 16

Heuberg 25
CH-4051 Basel
+41 61 261 94 74

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