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BREAKING NEWS / Penan set up new logging road blockade in the Middle Baram (Sarawak) - Affected company is operating with 80 bulldozers

The Penan community of Ba Abang in the Middle Baram area of Sarawak / Malaysia have set up a logging road blockade directed against the activities of the Interhill logging company. Penan sources are reporting that the community set up the blockade on 16 June 2006 and that the community confiscated two chainsaws from Interhill workers active on their community land. The recent blockade is the first blockade in the area since 2002.

The Penan of Ba Abang had repeatedly asked Interhill to respect the community's forest reserve and to stop logging in its water catchment area. Several meetings between the communities and Interhill took place in February and March 2006, but the Interhill management refused to take the Penan's worries into account. The company manager was quoted by the Penan with the words: "We don't bother what you say because our company has a valid logging licence issued by the government." Most parts of the area have been logged in the 1990s already and are currently being relogged by Interhill. The current relogging threatens the community's livelihood and will most likely lead to serious environmental long-term damage including landslides, heavy erosion and major floods.

Panai Irang, headmen of the community of Ba Abang, asks the international public for support: "Interhill is operating with 80 bulldozers in the Middle Baram. They are polluting our water catchment and destroy our last forest reserve. Our situation is very critical. Even at night, we can't sleep because of the problems with the bulldozers."

Interhill is a Malaysian company with its headquarters in Miri / Sarawak. It is known to be one of the most aggressively acting logging companies in the state of Sarawak. The forest-dwelling Penan people have struggled in defense of their remaining primary forests and their native customary rights for more than twenty years. The non-recognition of their rights by the Sarawak state government adds to the state's doubtful human rights record. Especially, the government's land policies are under constant criticism by local NGOs and opposition politicians.

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