Malaysia: SAVE Rivers report on Baram Dam alleges indigenous rights abuses by Sarawak Energy & State Govt.; company responds

Blockade at Long Lama Access Road by International Rivers via (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

In August 2014, SAVE Rivers, a Sarawak based network of indigenous peoples, published the report "No Consent to Proceed: Indigenous Peoples' Rights Violations at the Proposed Baram Dam in Sarawak". This report is endorsed by Jaringan Orang Asal SeMalaysia (JOAS), Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM), Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development (FORUM-ASIA), Bruno Manser Fund and International Rivers; its findings and recommendations are also supported by dozens of other organizations.

The report and related releases are linked below. We invited Sarawak Energy to respond – response also provided below.

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Autor: International Rivers

“New Report: Indigenous Rights Violations at Baram Dam Site in Sarawak” 17 August 2014

A new report entitled "No Consent to Proceed: Indigenous Peoples' Rights Violations at the Proposed Baram Dam in Sarawak"…[was] launched in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia…It identifies specific violations of the Malaysian Constitution and provisions of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People committed against the Kenyah, Kayan and Penan people living around the proposed site of the Baram Dam that have taken place at the hands of the state-owned company, Sarawak Energy Bhd, and the Sarawak government. The main findings reveal a fundamental denial of indigenous peoples' rights to free, prior and informed consent, to their ancestral lands, livelihood, self-determination and to make decisions about their own futures, free of coercion…

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Autor: Bruno Manser Fund & International Rivers

“Respect Indigenous Peoples’ Right to Withhold Consent for Malaysian Dam, Says New Report”, 18 August 2014

A newly released fact-finding report reveals systematic human rights violations are being committed against the indigenous peoples of Sarawak by the proponents of the proposed Baram Dam in Malaysia…Marion Jew from the village of Long Apu testified, “When SEB’s [Sarawak Energy Berhad] consultants [conducting the social and environmental impact assessment] came to my village, they brought a form for us to fill out. They threatened us by saying that if we didn’t fill in the form, we wouldn’t get compensation when the Baram Dam is built. They didn’t explain about the dam or the survey they were doing, but they filled all of our answers in for us with pencil. The last question they asked was: ‘Do you agree or not agree with the Baram Dam?’ We said we did not agree. Then we were asked to sign the form in pen.”

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7 September 2014

Sarawak Energy response

Autor: Sarawak Energy

Sarawak Energy’s response to the report “No Consent to Proceed: Indigenous Peoples' Rights Violations at the Proposed Baram Dam in Sarawak”  7 September 2014

...Sarawak Energy rejects the main assertions of that Report…Sarawak Energy would like to stress that all dam projects will only be constructed once the Social Environmental Impact Assessment (SEIA) are complete. Prior to the SEIAs, viability and feasibility studies and engagements with the potentially affected people are conducted, with absolute transparency…If the SEIA identifies that the planned projects are feasible, then Sarawak Energy will work with the local communities to ensure the projects are met with community’s approval and support. If this is not achieved, then alternatives are explored. In the case of Baram, Sarawak Energy categorically denies that our appointed consultant had threatened any of the villagers in the area in the implementation of the SEIA study…[T]he allegations of (i) Denial of Right to Information and Lack of Transparency, (ii) the Denial of the right to free, prior and informed consent, (iii) use of coercion, threats and intimidation and (iv) lack of access to remedies, are merely rhetorical tactics designed to attack the State Government…

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