Mulu protest group says 191,000 signatures collected in Europe for petition against land clearing


MIRI: Mulu natives who had gone to Europe to highlight their fight against forest clearing near Mulu National Park have collected about 191,000 signatures supporting their cause.

Mulu environmental activist Willie Kajan said the signatures were collected during a petition campaign in the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Switzerland over the past week.

Kajan is currently in Europe with a group of Mulu activists from interior northern Sarawak.

"We have presented the petition with the signatures to the Malaysian Embassy and the European Union office in Brussels.

"We have come here to highlight our plight and we want the forest clearing near Mulu to stop.

"We want our native rights protected and our forests to remain intact," Kajan said.

On May 10, a video-documentary about the forest clearing adjacent to the Mulu National Park in northern Sarawak was released in Europe.

The documentary premiered at the European Union office in Brussels was filmed by Swiss environmental activist group, the Bruno Manser Foundation (BMF).

BMF said the documentary is made from actual video footage from the Mulu dispute.

"Our team went to Mulu to go into the areas cleared for oil palm.

"We also spoke to the affected natives. All the footage and interviews were done in Mulu itself," said the BMF.

Kajan and his group's visit to Europe to highlight their plight is sponsored by BMF.

Ukau Lupung and Komeok Joe represent the Penan in the delegation while Kajan is from the Berawan ethnic group.

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

Pastor Lian Malang lodged a report against the NGO at a police station here in Miri city.

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

Malang told The Star that he lodged the police report against the NGOs because they are causing trouble.

Malang had said he represented community leaders in Mulu who want to see socio-economic development there.

"These NGOs do not represent the natives of Mulu.

"We community leaders represent the Mulu people who want to see socio-economic development that can benefit the people," he said.

The protests by the Mulu Penan, Berawan and Tering began in early February.

They staged human blockades to stop plantation company workers from clearing the forest adjacent to Mulu.

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

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

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.


   

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