Sarawak activists take oil palm protest to Europe

PETALING JAYA: A delegation of indigenous representatives from Sarawak is currently in Europe to “expose the Malaysian palm oil industry’s detrimental practices”, the Swiss-based Bruno Manser Fund said in a statement today.

It said the tour started yesterday with a surprise protest in front of the Malaysian High Commission in London, where a full-day promotional event for palm oil was being held as part of the industry’s Love My Palm Oil campaign.

Later in the day, a group of Penans, led by headman Ukau Lupung, met Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok for a private discussion.

Penan leader Komeok Joe said he was satisfied with the meeting but was concerned that Sarawak authorities did not implement any of the promises made by Malaysia during palm oil promotional visits overseas.

Bruno Manser Fund said Penan and Berawan/Tering activists are currently fighting against a major expansion of oil palm plantations near the Mulu National Park, Sarawak’s only Unesco World Heritage site.

Bruno Manser Fund said the “awareness raising tour” will lead the Sarawak delegation to Brussels on Tuesday where European NGOs are planning to hand over a petition with over 150,000 signatures in support of the Mulu communities to the Malaysian embassy.

Further talks are scheduled with EU officials as well as with a French MP and officials of Unesco on Thursday in Paris, the statement added.

The final stop for the delegation is in Switzerland where they will meet with the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Geneva.

The tour will end next week with a courtesy call at the Malaysian embassy in Berne, Switzerland, where a group of Penans will present their community maps to the ambassador.

Bruno Manser Fund said the delegation comprises representatives of the Penan, Iban, Berawan/Tering and Kelabit indigenous communities.

The tour is organised and funded by the Bruno Manser Fund, a Swiss NGO promoting forest conservation and the rights of indigenous peoples.