Open up logging zones, urge groups

  • Nation
  • Saturday, 12 Sep 2009

MIRI: Concerned groups want the Sarawak Government to open up the timber concession zones and stop timber giants from having total control over these areas – home to thousands of natives.

Their call follows confirmation by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry that Penan girls and women had been raped in these areas.

Former Catholic priest turned social activist Michael Jok said the reports of sexual abuse of the Penans should be reason enough for the state government to step in.

“There are thousands of natives living in these logging concession zones.

“At present, anybody who wants to visit these natives must get a written permit from the timber bosses.

“Without these permits, it is impossible to pass through the many security checkpoints inside the timber camps,” he told The Star yesterday.

Jok, chairman of the Sarawak Indigenous Natives Rights Association, said the barriers had made it difficult for even those sending food aid to reach the natives.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia field officer for Sarawak, Jok Jau Evong, said the security barriers were found in every timber concession zone in Sarawak.

“NGOs are often prevented from entering even if we apply for permits.

“This sort of totalitarian power is unhealthy. The Government must remove it,” he said.

Borneo Resources Institute coordinator for Sarawak, Raymond Abin, said there had been occasions where even politicians had been barred by the timber camp security from crossing into the native settlements.

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