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STATEMENT FROM THE MEETING OF THE IBAN COMMUNITY OF ULU TATAU, BINTULU, SARAWAK
ON 30TH SEPTEMBER 2000
WE, representatives of the Iban longhouses community in Ulu Batang Tatau after having met and deliberated on the Pulpwood Mill and Forest Plantation Project owned by Borneo Pulp & Paper Sdn Bhd (BPP) at Rumah Entika, Rantau Tajak, Batang Tatau, Bintulu Division, Sarawak on 30th September 2000, do hereby state:
- Issue of Extinguishment of rights to native customary land and community forest reserves ("Pulau Galau")
- Our Customary Land Rights Extinguished: The Sarawak State Government had extinguished our customary land rights without our agreement. We were not informed and there was no prior clarification on the effects of such extinguishment to our customary land. We strongly protested the act of the government in extinguishing our customary land rights that was done not according to the procedure of laws because the government intention of acquiring ownership over our land is for commercial purposes that threatens the longhouse peoples;
- Customary Rights Not Respected: BPP company does not respect our customary rights to land and resources within the ‘Menoa’ (territory) area of every longhouses in Ulu Batang Tatau. Without our consent and permission, BPP carries out criminal trespassing onto our properties, gardens, temuda land and community forest reserve;
- Destruction To Land, Garden, Temuda And Community Forest Reserve: We are totally dependent on our land, gardens and forests in our daily lives and carrying out our activities. Our gardens and Temuda lands that content varieties of plants had been indiscriminately damaged or destroyed by BPP without any payment of compensation. Our community forest reserves that serves as place for us to hunt, obtain jungle produces, longhouse building materials, boats, coffins, traditional medicines and resources had been destroyed by BPP; and
- Extinguishment of customary land rights and BPP Project bring negative impacts: We are most regretful with the State Government's action in extinguishing our customary land ownership rights for the purpose of implementing BPP project, because such extinguishment brought adverse negative impacts on us and our future.
- Issue Of Inadequate Compensation
- Inadequate Compensation Given: The acquisition of our property, land, forests and resources by the State Government of Sarawak were not compensated adequately. There were a lot of reasons given to us so as to delay the distribution of compensation to much of our property, fruit trees, temuda, forest reserves and resources; and
- Crops Damaged Were Not Paid Compensation: All of our crops like padi, pepper, rubber, fruits, vegetables and other crops within our customary land were damaged or destroyed without any compensation given whatsoever by BPP and the Government.
- Issue Of Resettlement
- Forced To Moved From Customary Land: We are forced by BPP to move from our customary land (menoa) to another area of not our choice. BPP and the State Government of Sarawak does not guarantee our rights and future if we are to be resettled in a new area;
- No Holistic Plan For Resettlement: Until today, we were never clarified about the plans and programmes for our community that are going to be resettled by the Government and the relevant authorities; and
- Facilities For Resettlement: The facilities and compensation which was promised by BPP and the Government if we were to move never materialised and numerous longhouse residents were forced to move without having a proper discussion with the community of the longhouse involved.
- Problems Relating To Livelihood And The Environment
- Destruction Of Water Catchment Areas: The water catchment areas of a few longhouses in Batang Tatau have been trespassed upon and destroyed by BPP without any compensation paid whatsoever to the residents;
- Destruction Of Gravesites: The gravesites belonging to the longhouse residents were also destroyed by BPP;
- Depletion Of Food Resources And Income: BPP has depleted our food resources and source of income. Our income and food resources that are found in our gardens, temuda land and also in the community's forest reserves (pulau galau) were also damaged; and
- Longhouse Residents Were Threatened By BPP: BPP has issued a written warning to us by prohibiting the longhouse residents from entering BPP's mill site which is in our customary land thus restraining the longhouse residents from going to their padi farms and gardens.
Taking into consideration of all the abovesaid, we therefore:
- Demand the State Government of Sarawak to give legal recognition of our rights which was extinguished and to immediately return our customary land and its resources therein;
- Urge the State Government of Sarawak not to threaten our rights, forest and its resources in our customary land with mega pulpwood project which destroys the environment and does not bring any benefits to our community;
- Urge the State Government of Sarawak to stop the construction of the mill and the pulpwood plantation which involves our customary land because it will endanger the safety of the residents there and damage the ecology;
- Demand the State Government of Sarawak to urge Borneo Pulp and Paper Sdn. Bhd. to stop all its operations in our customary land;
- Demand that adequate compensation be given to all our property, crops and customary land which has been damaged or destroyed by BPP;
- Urge the State Government of Sarawak to discuss thoroughly with the residents on any development programme which is going to be implemented in our customary land and all decisions are subjected to our approval;
- Urge the State Government of Sarawak and BPP to respect our native customary rights to land;
- Urge the State Government of Sarawak to help and develop our community by providing the essential needs for each longhouse;
- Urge the Government to suggest and allow BPP to implement its project outside of the Dayaks customary land especially in the area of the longhouses in Ulu Batang Tatau. We demand that BPP implement its project on State Land only; and
- Urge the State Government of Sarawak not to resettle us away from our customary land whenever a project is going to be implemented.
This statement was endorsed by the Headmen, representatives of longhouses and the Tatau Region Dayak Association (GDMT) on the 30th September 2000:
- Tuai Rumah Entika Anak Abus (Rumah Entika, Rantau Tajak, Tatau)
- Tuai Rumah Munggu Anak Aloi (Rumah Munggu, Batang Tatau, Tatau)
- Tuai Rumah Stephen Ali Ak. Nyuak (Rumah Ali, Munggu Embawang, Tatau)
- Representative of Tuai Rumah Jeti Ak. Anyong (Rumah Jeti, Batang Tatau, Tatau)
- Representative from Rumah Meluda, Batang Tatau, Tatau
- Tuai Rumah Polis (Rumah Polis, Batang Tatau, Tatau)
- Representative from Rumah Gerunsin, Batang Tatau, Tatau
- Representative from Rumah Suran, Batang Tatau, Tatau
- Representative from Rumah Ringkai, Batang Tatau, Tatau
- Jaili Bin Sulaiman (Chairman of Tatau Region Dayak Association)