Baram Dam Scrapped: Land Rights Returned to Communities!

In a letter dated March 15, 2016 the Sarawak government revoked the gazette that extinguished Native Customary Rights in the Baram Dam construction zone and reservoir and restored the land rights to the people of Baram! This means that the government has no claim on the land and cannot build the dam. Commenting on the move, Peter Kallang, the chairman of the grassroots network SAVE Rivers, said, “I congratulate the people of Baram for this great success and I pray that they will continue to fight for their rights and protection of the environment.. I hope that the chapter on Baram dam is now permanently closed.” This is a monumental victory for indigenous rights and the environment! Read the full press release from SAVE Rivers here.

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Verbal Consent to Stop Baram Dam is Not Enough

The people of Baram want the dam to be cancelled for good and they want it in writing. The chairman of Save Rivers, Peter Kallang, said the chief minister’s verbal agreement of a moratorium is not enough for the Baram people: “what the people want is for the project to be scrapped completely,” the logging stopped, and the land formally returned to the people.  Read more from The Borneo Post, Clean Malaysia, and The Malaysian Insider.

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World Indigenous Summit on Environment and Rivers (WISER) Baram 2015

In the past six decades large dams have forced some 40-80 million people from their lands, according to the World Commission on Dams. Indigenous, tribal, and peasant communities have been particularly hard hit. These legions of dam refugees have, in the great majority of cases, been economically, culturally and psychologically devastated.

The World Indigenous Summit on Environment and Rivers (WISER) Baram 2015, held in October, brought anti-dam activists from around the world to collaborate, build solidarity, raise awareness about mega-dams, and make a lot of noise for the 2nd anniversary of the Baram Dam Blockades.

We coordinated with communities and NGOs on the ground, international NGOs, and communities fighting dams all over the world to host a week-long event to raise international attention and forge connections between grassroots organizations experiencing similar struggles.

The conference featured two main sections: a visit to villages and the two blockade sites with an event at the Baram Dam Blockades for their 2 year anniversary, and a more typical conference in the city of Miri. We traveled on the river by boat and on logging roads by SUVs/4x4s. All of our international activist guests were given the opportunity to speak about their experiences and engage in discussion with other activists, including smaller break-out discussions between activists to discuss strategy.

Learn more about WISER Baram 2015 here

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Moratorium on the Dams?!

The Chief Minister of Sarawak has declared a moratorium on mega-dams! This is a HUGE VICTORY for the communities on the ground who have been working tirelessly for years to save their communities and their livelihoods from unnecessary mega-development!

Just a few years ago top level government officials wouldn’t have even entertained the idea of meeting with grassroots activists, but several months ago Chief Minister Adenan met with community representatives and a group of researchers from UC Berkeley to discuss energy development options for Sarawak. He has asked for an alternative proposal to the dams.

Chief Minister Adenan is taking a huge step by acknowledging the voices of the people, but we need to make sure that this step is followed by action. 

News of the moratorium is being met with cautious optimism on the ground. According to Peter Kallang, chairman of SAVE Rivers, there is still a “a great sense of anxiety” because the land gazetted for construction of the Baram Dam has not been legally returned to its communities and logging continues.

Now it’s time to maintain momentum to ensure the moratorium is permanent and the land is returned to communities who have managed the forests for generations. Read more details in Mongabay.

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Chief Minister Meets Experts and Activists, Reconsiders Dams

In July, 2015 the government of Sarawak met with our partners on the ground and researchers from the Renewable and Appropriate Energy Laboratory (RAEL) from UC Berkeley to have a civil and honest conversation about the dams. Now, Chief Minister Adenan is rethinking the plan to build 12 mega-dams in Sarawak.

This is great news, but it’s only the beginning. We want action.

Read more details in the new news here.

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