Activists take Mulu land dispute to Europe, release documentary


MIRI: A documentary on the massive forest clearing happening on land adjacent to Mulu National Park in northern Sarawak have been released to the public in Europe.

It premiered in the European Union office in Brussels.

The Star on Friday (May 10) received an email and pictures of the Brussel event from Swiss environment-activist group Bruno Manser Foundation (BMF).

"The documentary is released already in Europe, starting in Brussel. It is made from actual video footages from the Mulu dispute.

"Our BMF team went to Mulu to go into the areas cleared for the 4,400ha oil-palm plantation.

"We also spoke to the affected natives. All these footages and interviews were done in Mulu itself," said the email.

As BMF took its fight to Europe, it also brought a group of natives from Mulu National Park to stage public demonstrations.

The demos are aimed at highlighting the plights of the Mulu natives against the big oil-palm plantation project.

Two Mulu Penan leaders named Ukau Lupung and Komeok Joe are leading the delegation. Another Mulu community activist – Willie Kajan from the Berawan ethnic group – is also there with a few other natives from the Kayan and Kenyah and Orang Ulu groups.

BMF is sponsoring the natives' trip to Europe.

"We want to help the Penans highlight their pleas to stop the oil-palm projects expansion in Mulu that will destroy the environment there.

"In London, a peaceful demonstration was staged outside the Malaysian Embassy. We will on Tuesday (May 14) bring the Penans to meet European Union leaders in Brussels.

"After that we will bring them to Paris to meet officials from UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science and Cultural Organisation).

"We will then go to Geneva to bring the Mulu case to International Union for Conservation of Nature," said BMF.

Not all natives in the affected areas support BMF.

On March 25, a pastor of a local church in Miri lodged a police report against the BMF activists for allegedly trespassing into Mulu and instigating human blockades against an oil-palm giant.

Pastor Lian Malang, who is living in Miri, lodged a report against the NGO at a police station here in Miri.

Malang is a native from the Kenyah ethnic group, while the natives in Mulu are from the Penan, Berawan and Tering ethnicities.

He told The Star he lodged the police report because the activists were causing trouble. Malang said he "represents the community leaders of Mulu who want to see socio-economic development in Mulu".

"These NGOs do not represent the natives of Mulu. We community leaders represent the Mulu people who want to see socio-economic developments that can benefit the people," he said.

The protests by the Mulu Penans, Berawans and Terings began in early February. They staged human-blockades to stop the plantation company workers from clearing the forest adjacent Mulu.

The company has been issued a licence by the Sarawak state authorities to clear some 4,400ha of forests to set up the oil-palm estate.

The protesting natives want the plantation workers to leave the Mulu vicinity and remove the heavy machineries.

Mulu National Park is a world heritage site that is home to the largest cave systems on the planet. Located 200km inland from Miri, Mulu is also home to many species of animals and plants found only in Sarawak.

The Mulu natives had erected human blockades against the plantation workers since February this year.