Two road blockades have been erected to prevent the construction of the 1,200 MW Baram Dam. One blockade has been erected near Long Lama, on the shores of the Baram River, with a second blockade near the proposed dam site.
The Baram dam is the fourth dam planned as part of the Sarawak government's plan to build 12 mega-dams. The dam would displace up to 20,000 people and submerge a rainforest area of over 400km2.
Indigenous activists are demanding the immediate halt to planning and construction at the Baram dam and its access road. The blockade sites have been chosen strategically to prevent Sarawak Energy, the state-owned Malaysian energy provider currently planning and building the dam, from transporting machinery equipment to the planned dam site. Construction of the access road is on going and workers in the area have already started preparing the dam site.
“It is unacceptable that any works should commence before an Environmental Impact Analysis (EIA) has been carried out”, said Peter Kallang, spokesperson for Sarawak’s SAVE Rivers Network.
Indigenous communities – Kayan, Kenyah and Penan – are calling on all employees of Sarawak Energy and its contractors to halt work for the planned dam. These communities have installed camps near the blockades with the intention to stay as long as necessary to protect their rights and their ancestral lands.
This news comes after it’s recently emerged that many of the indigenous families forced from their longhouses at Murum, another on-going dam blockade that began on September 17th, have found there’s no replacement housing and any replacement housing is simply unacceptable, with as many as three families crowding into one single-family sized apartment.
These latest blockades at Baram put pressure on the Malaysian government ahead of a key UN meeting in Geneva, where the Human Rights Council will discuss Malaysia’s human rights records.