Once again Sarawak natives have been victims of violent actions from the Police: on June 25, 42 Dayak-Ibans -among them 9 women- were arrested at Miri, for resisting the oil palm plantation that is to be implemented within their customary land area. Some of them were even brutally harassed and assaulted by the Police, which caused them physical damages. The Police found it difficult to find any legal reason to accuse them. However, brought to court, the Magistrate ordered them to sign a bond of peace for six months. The Ibans refused to do so, arguing that they were just defending their customary land. So on June 27 they were sent to prison. Their appeals for medical treatment -both under remand and in prison- have been ignored.
Bulletin Issue 2 – July 1997
Dear friends, This is the second issue of the World Rainforest Movement's Bulletin. The World Rainforest Movement is a global network of citizens'groups of North and South involved in efforts to defend the world's rainforests against the forces that destroy them. It works to secure the lands and livelihoods of forest peoples and supports their efforts to defend the forests from commercial logging, dams, mining, plantations, shrimp farms, colonisation and settlement and other projects that threaten them. We hope that this Bulletin may become a tool for enhancing communication and information among all those people concerned with this issue and willing to contribute to stop and reverse this destructive processes. Your comments, suggestions and contributions are welcome. Warm regards Ricardo Carrere
7 August 1997
7 August 1997To all our friends, We are writing to all of you from inside the above prison to tell you of our suffering and how we had ended up here. On 24th June 1997 we met with Surveyors from the Sarawak land and Survey Department who came to survey our native Customary Land in Upper Teru River, Tinjar, Baram, Miri Division, Sarawak, Malaysia for an oil palm plantation company to implement an oil palm plantation scheme which was against our consent.
WRM GENERAL ACTIVITIES
7 August 1997A workshop on Indigenous Perspectives in Forestry Education, organized by the Faculty of Forestry of the British Columbia University, the National Aboriginal Forestry Association and the First House of Learning, took place in Vancouver, from 15 to 18 June. Representatives of the Cherokee, Sto:lo, Tsleil-Waututh, Ojibway, Stl'atl'imx and Musqueam First Nations, Mam Tribe of the Mayan People and Te Whanau-a-Apanui Tribe, as well as delegates from Universities, research centres and from Canada, USA, Russia, Sweden, Kenya, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Venezuela and Uruguay were present. Alvaro Gonzalez, Project Assitant of the WRM, attendend as delegate of the Universidad de la Republica of Uruguay.
7 August 1997Last week Marcus Colchester was in Guyana presenting his new work "Guyana: Fragile Frontier. Loggers, Miners and Forest Peoples", jointly published by WRM and the Latin America Bureau. The book is very comprehensive in its scope, summarizing Guyana's history since the arrival of the European colonizers until the present year and describes the situation of the country after a decade of "development" based upon foreign investment in logging and mining. The destruction of Guyana's tropical forests, that had been a rare case of virtually untouched ecosystems up to the mid-1980s, and the complete disregard of the Amerindians that have lived in these forests for centuries have been the result of such so-called economic development. The book contains the following chapters:
LOCAL STRUGGLES AND NEWS
7 July 1997On May 29 Sahabat Alam Malaysia - Penang sent an appeal to the government to reconsider the Bakun Hydroelectric Dam Project. SAM claims for a thorough and detailed reappraisal of the project, in the light of the economic, environmental and socio-cultural concerns it has raised. In effect, the present and future energy demand of the country are adequately covered with the electricity produced nowadays. An increase in energy production would mean the promotion of high energy consumption. Besides, one third of Sarawak's remaining primary forest lie in the area to be affected by the dam, so it is expected that some 69000 hectares of the floode area will be logged, forcing the migration of indigenous peoples from the catchment area. With them 60 rice varieties will also be lost.
7 July 1997The Indonesian military are putting pressure on the indigenous people of the island of Siberut to allow a 70,000 hectare oil palm plantation and associated transmigration scheme to go ahead, regardless of the fact that the island has been designated as a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO. Indonesia's palm oil industry is currently undergoing a boom. The Indonesian government wants the country to overtake Malaysia as the world's largest palm oil producer early next century. All over Sumatra, mature rainforest is being felled to make room for more plantations. There are signs the boom may already be peaking. Earlier this year the government put a stop on new foreign investment in this sector in Western Indonesia. But the speculators cannot lose.
7 July 1997An international consortium consisting of Exxon, Shell and ELF is planning a multi-billion dollar oil exploitation project that will involve territories of Chad and Cameroon. It is feared that the project brings with it very serious environmental and social risks that may create another Ogoniland, Nigeria's oil-producing region marked by environmental devastation and brutal Human Rights violations. The project plans the development of the Doba oil-fields in southern Chad, and a 600 mile pipeline through Cameroon to transport oil to an Atlantic port for its export. Public funding from international development agencies -mainly the World Bank- is needed to realize the project.
7 July 1997Acting under pressure of international forestry companies and funding agencies, the Mexican Government is trying to modify the Forestry Law in order to promote large monoculture tree plantations in several regions of the country. As surprising as it may seem, one of these regions is Chiapas -one of the poorest states of Mexico- which has been the scene of a major armed uprising by the Zapatista movement. In June 1995 Edward Krobacker, from International Paper, a company interested in establishing industrial tree plantations in the state of Chiapas, sent a letter to the Mexican Government, pushing for changes to the national forestry law in order to "create a more secure legal framework" for IP's investments.
7 July 1997In an open letter addressed to the President of Venezuela, dated May 17, a group of 20 environmental groups and a large number of prominent citizens, have denounced gross abuse of power and deceitful manipulation of public opinion, in order to approve in Cabinet a management plan for Imataca Forest Reserve, a legally protected area since the early 1960s. Imataca, situated at the foot of the Guayana Shield, occupies an area of 3.6 million hectares -the size of the Netherlands- and is covered with rich, pristine tropical forests. It is also rich in mineral resources, as well as water, energy and biodiversity. Part of the area is also home to the indigenous nations Warao, Karina, Akawaio and Pemon, whose survival and cultural legacy depends on this environment.
7 July 1997The Cold War and the "danger of communism" are over. New tasks are needed for the US Army. What could be better than collaborating in the protection of other countries' environment? According to the Washington Times, June 12, 6200 US soldiers are being prepared to carry-out "eco-protection duties" in Central and South America that may require their services. Surprising as it may sound, Timothy E. Wirth, Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs has stated that "this is a legitimate military issue." If such preposterous plans are allowed to be put to practice, it would mean a new chapter in the US's long history of intervention in this region.