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    Another 11 more Iban NCR land owners from Abok in the Pantu District in Sarawak have been arrested on Friday 18 September for harvesting oil palm fruits from their own land.The arrest was made following a police complaint filed by the Pelita-Tetangga Akrab oil palm plantation.This is the second arrest this month in the district. On 4 September six Ibans from Kasindu were picked up together with their three tons of oil palm fruits on a similar offence. They have been released after their statements were taken.Cobbold John, an NCR land owner and oil palm planter said that a group consisting of 20 Iban males and five women in the group of 32 people last Friday was rounded up and spent a night in the custody of the Police. They were then allowed to go. Eleven others have their statements taken and are going to be charged.“This is a clear case of harassment,” said Nicholas Mujah, Secretary General of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association. “They are not going to be charged and yet they will have to spend one night in the custody of the police. It shows that the companies are able to exert influence over the police and government.”The communities’ farm land was taken by Pelita-Tetangga Akrab in 2003 in a joint venture to plant oil palm, despite immediate protest and the filing of a court case by the communities affected. Though they have claimed to do this JV with the community, the vast majority of the communities had rejected the project and their right to free, prior and informed consent ignored.As a desperate measure, the villagers have taken to harvesting the oil palm fruits that were grown on their land. Though numerous reports and complaints to the police have been made by the villagers, these have fallen on deaf ears.“The government wants the natives not to leave their NCR lands idle. But when the native communities want to develop their own land by planting cash crops such as oil palm, they are being penalised”, said Mark Bujang, Executive Director of Borneo Resources Institute, Malaysia (BRIMAS).In Sarawak, native land rights are recognized by the Sarawak State Constitution and their rights to these lands have been reaffirmed through several key judgments in the Malaysian Courts. – The Broken ShieldSource: http://www.thebrokenshield.blogspot.com Posted by Jetty at 1:18 AM Links to this post 8 comments Labels: Abok, BRIMAS, NCR land issues, oil palm plantation, Pantu, Pelita Tenagga Akrab, Sri Aman Thursday, September 17The State government the destroyer of Forests?Kuching: The Borneo Resources Institute Malaysia (BRIMAS) has called on the State Government of Sarawak to halt its current development policy and practice of developing its 1.7 million hectares of oil palm plantations as its development is tantamount to the build–up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.In a statement emailed to The Broken Shield, its executive director, Mark Bujang said that over the recent years some 750,000 hectares of land had been planted with oil palm trees, about 70 of this are in deep peat soil area in Sarawak.“With this massive clearing of peat swamp forest and conversion of peat soil land for plantations, thousands of tons of carbon dioxide are going to be released into the atmosphere,” he said, pointing out to a study conducted by the United Nations Environment Programme in 2007 on the role peat lands play in human-induced climate change, found out that the world’s estimated 988 million acres of peat land (which represented about three percent of world’s land and freshwater surface) are capable of storing some two trillion tons of carbon dioxide.This, he said, was equivalent to about 100 years worth of fossil fuel emissions.Sarawak’s peat land is one of the most fragile wetland systems in the world, Bujang said and added that 95 of peat land in Sarawak is deep peat that is more than three metres deep.He said: “The state government of Sarawak’s target of planting one million hectares of land with oil palm next year is very alarming.“As such, the widespread conversions of peat bogs into plantations will seriously affect environment especially when the stored carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere from drained or burnt of peat lands,” he said.BRIMAS he said had over the years carried out field monitoring on oil palm plantations and found out the nature of development activities taken place on peat lands are very destructive with extensive clearing of peat swamp forest and drainage of lands.These activities, he added, had resulted in total loss of biodiversity as most of the plantations have taken the easy way out of clearing the lands through open burning.“Hence Sarawak is continuously facing and experiencing poor air quality due to haze when there is dry weather,” Bujang pointed out.He went on to say that the roundtable on sustainable palm oil (RSPO) proposals to amend the RSPO principle and criteria with inclusion of specific measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions should be lauded and supported by all parties including the Sarawak oil palm owners association.BRIMAS also called on the State government to stop issuing new licences for planting of oil palm over any peat land area in the state, he said, and also urged the government to stop the oil palm plantation companies from further clearing of forest for new plantations.“By doing so, the government could avoid the accusations of being labeled as destroyers of the forest and ecosystems by opening up lands for oil palm plantations. Not only that, the government could stand high to prove to the global community that it has taken credible efforts in protecting and restoring peat lands in reducing our country’s carbon footprints as the world braces for global warming,” Bujang said.- The Broken Shield

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