Tasmania stands in solidarity with Sarawak

Members of environment groups Huon Valley Environment Centre and Still Wild Still Threatened are gathered in solidarity with native Sarawakians protesting against the construction of the Murum dam in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.

Members of environment groups Huon Valley Environment Centre and Still Wild Still Threatened, are gathering outside Hydro Tasmania's Davey Street offices in Hobart to stand in solidarity with native Sarawakians protesting against the construction of the Murum dam in Sarawak, Malaysian Borneo.

Ten members have stationed themselves outside the building and are displaying a banner that reads "Hydro Tas: Damning Sarawak".

The Murum dam will flood nearly 250 sq. km and will displace at least 1400 native people from their traditional lands. The dam construction, overseen by Sarawak Energy, is being facilitated by Hydro Tasmania, which is providing assistance to Sarawak Energy in the form of knowledge and expertise. "Approximately three hundred native Sarawakians have been blocking the construction works at the Murum dam in the Malaysian rainforest for three weeks. They decided to blockade the routes to the construction site after they learnt they faced forced resettlement, the terms of which they are still in the dark about. They have vowed to remain at the blockade until they are properly consulted and their concerns are addressed in full," said Ali Alishah, spokesperson for Huon Valley Environment Centre.

"Tasmanian businesses must not involve themselves in any capacity in a venture that is responsible for the displacement of indigenous peoples from their traditional lands. We cannot understand why Hydro Tasmania, a state owned business, continues to assist such morally unjust and environmentally destructive practices." said Miranda Gibson spokesperson for Still Wild Still Threatened.

A letter, sent earlier this week, by several international non-governmental organisations to the state and federal governments, highlighting the corrupt nature of the processes behind, and the effect of, dam building on indigenous populations in Sarawak, has led the community to seriously question Hydro Tasmania's involvement in Sarawak.

"Hydro Tasmania needs to maintain the highest humanitarian standards and must adhere to the highest code of conduct and practices, both here and abroad. It cannot purport to do so whilst assisting enterprises that flood the lands of indigenous peoples, displacing them into a life of poverty and cultural degradation. There is only one way forward. Hydro Tasmania must withdraw all assets and operations from Sarawak immediately." said Ali Alishah.

"We will continue to highlight the plight of native Sarawakians and we stand alongside the Penan in their fight for their homelands whether it be against logging, dam building or corruption from any arms of the Taib Mahmud regime." said Miranda Gibson.

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