Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Sarawak: Shocking New Cases Of Violence Against Indigenous Peoples In Sarawak

HSBC-funded oil palm company hires gangsters to intimidate native landowners - Two native landowners critically hurt by timber company officials

BLD Plantation Bhd, a Malaysian oil palm company that counts HSBC Malaysia among its principal bankers, has hired over 100 armed thugs to intimidate native landowners who are opposed to the forceful "development" of their land into an oil palm plantation.

According to the Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia, around 100 armed gangsters had been brought in two buses from Sibu to Rumah Ranggong on 17 February in an attempt to intimidate the longhouse residents. The gangsters had brought along parangs (large knifes) and some explosives. Fearing for their safety, some of the longhouse residents reported the case to the police who arrested the gang leader and sent the rest away. The longhouse people had been defending their lands against an oil palm development by Niamas Istimewa, a BLD subsidiary. BLD plantation is part of the KTS group that is also active in Indonesia, China, Brazil and Australia.

In a separate, even more shocking case, two native landowners, Minggat Nyakin and Juan Minggat, were beaten up on 14 February at a timber log-pond in Sungai Rusa, Sarikei Division. According to Sarawak's indigenous peoples' network, TAHABAS, the two had been complaining against illegal logging on their native lands with the timber company manager. It appears that the illegal loggers are being protected by the police and the Sarawak authorities. The case is symptomatic for the culture of corruption and the lack of law enforcment in the Sarawak timber and plantation sector.

Source: Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia

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