Home Civil Society Voices Malaysian activists hold symbolic tribunal investigating deforestation

Malaysian activists hold symbolic tribunal investigating deforestation

Penan leader Komeok Joe handing over document with questions to the president of the Rainforest Tribunal, Kaspar Mueller - CLAUDE GIGER/BRUNO MANSER FONDS

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On Tuesday, Malaysian activists gathered in Basel, Switzerland, for a “Rainforest Tribunal”, investigating deforestation in Borneo’s remote interior.

Members of the Penan, Kelabit, Kenyah, Tering and Kayan indigenous communities of Sarawak, as well as international scholars, served as witnesses testifying on rainforest destruction and loss of indigenous livelihoods in Malaysian Borneo.

Penan activists initiated the tribunal by crossing the Rhine River by ferry to deliver a letter with investigative demands to the president of thetTribunal, Swiss economist Kaspar Müller. The letter, signed by 90 indigenous leaders in the Baram, Tutoh and Limbang areas of Sarawak, asked the tribunal, “How much money has been made from the destruction of our forests? Where did the money go?”

The tribunal featured testimony from a former timber company worker, who shared first-hand experience of engaging in bribery practices that appear to be common between logging companies and Forestry Department officials.

Penan leader Komeok Joe shared, “We live in fear every day of losing our forest, when the trees get cut and our people get arrested for protecting our land.”

Lawyer and anti-corruption expert Cynthia Gabriel delivered the jury’s remarks, “The local struggles and victimisation of Sarawak’s indigenous peoples must be considered a grand-scale transnational crime.”

Celine Lim, managing director of Sarawak-based indigenous NGO Save Rivers, stated, “We indigenous communities want to have our seat at the table when decisions are made regarding our land.”

The Rainforest Tribunal was hosted by Swiss NGO Bruno Manser Fonds (BMF) ahead of their appearance o Wednesday in the Basel Civil Court, where the Sarawak governor’s daughter Jamilah Taib Murray has sued them for defamation. – Save Rivers

The views expressed in Aliran's media statements and the NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran's official stand. Views and opinions expressed in other pieces published here do not necessarily reflect Aliran's official position.

AGENDA RAKYAT - Lima perkara utama
  1. Tegakkan maruah serta kualiti kehidupan rakyat
  2. Galakkan pembangunan saksama, lestari serta tangani krisis alam sekitar
  3. Raikan kerencaman dan keterangkuman
  4. Selamatkan demokrasi dan angkatkan keluhuran undang-undang
  5. Lawan rasuah dan kronisme
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