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Malaysian police threaten to arrest Penan leader over oil palm protest

Malaysian police threaten to arrest Penan leader over oil palm protest
Ukau Lupong is the headman of Bateu Bungan, a Penan community on the edge of the Mulu National Park (Picture: BMF/Mulu United Land Action)

Bruno Manser Fund calls on Malaysian authorities to stop all intimidations

(Bateu Bungan, Sarawak/Malaysia) Malaysian authorities are trying to stifle a conflict with indigenous communities with arrest threats. Indigenous communities are at loggerheads with the government over a massive oil palm development in the rainforests of Sarawak, a state in Malaysian Borneo.

According to community reports, officers of the Special Branch, Malaysia’s political police, threatened last week to arrest Ukau Lupong, an indigenous Penan leader over protests against a 4400 hectare oil palm plantation on native lands in the Mulu region. The threat was issued on the occasion of a meeting between community leaders with local government officials on 14th February 2019.

Ukau Lupong is one of the organizers of a protest letter by 268 indigenous Penan and Berawan villagers to Malaysian authorities. The communities are calling on the Sarawak Chief Minister to immediately end the destruction of their forest lands by Radiant Lagoon, a Malaysian oil palm company.

Last month, the communities also started to stage blockades to physically prevent the oil palm company from entering their territory. Bateu Bungan is a Penan village located on the edge of the UNESCO-protected Mulu National Park. The planned oil palm plantation threatens the villagers’ livelihoods and is feared to cut off important wildlife corridors near the Mulu National Park.

The Bruno Manser Fund urges the Malaysian police to stop all intimidations and calls on the Sarawak and federal Malaysian authorities to start a meaningful dialogue with the communities affected by the Mulu oil palm encroachments.

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