The 10 Penans who were arrested and remanded at Belaga District Police Station were released on November 10th (Sunday). They were released on police bail pending court charge on November 26. Those released were Ngang Buling, Lau Siang, Ramli Bujang, Awa Juman, Balan Beran, Anthony Juman, Tom Avit and Tingang Lingok together with Merit Gadong and Philip Bujang.
About 200 Penan families welcome them back as their heroes.
“We are happy to be back with all of you again at Murum Dam blockade site” said Ngang Buling, the Chairman of Peleiran Murum Penan Affairs (PEMUPA) Committee.
|The 10 Penans released from lock-up taking photo|
together with their relatives at Belaga Police Station
He advised them to be resolutely strong as their struggle for justice is just begun. The government has all mean to suppress by using the police to intimidate us but we are conscientiously clear in our demands for just, fair and equitable compensation, he added.
On November 7th, eight (8) Penans were arrested at the Murum dam site for staging a blockade to protest against the impoundment of the RM4bil Murum Hydroelectric dam project as the state government of Sarawak has been silent on their demands for compensation. On November 8th, while on visiting their remanded relatives at the Police Station, another two (2) Penans, Merit Gadong and Philip Bujang were arrested and placed under police custody.
Among those remanded were 3 Penan teenagers of age between 13th and 19th years old.
“We never asked for this dam project but the government imposed it upon us. Now they want to kill and drown us together with our land”, said Lingok Lokap the farther of 13 years old Tingang who was also arrested last week.
Immediately after their released the Penan lodged a report against the Police for wrongful arrest and imprisonment. Together with them was their lawyer, Abun Sui Anyit.
Ngang told the Penan that their blockade will continue until the government comes to her sense to truly engage a negotiation with the Penans on their demands.
He calls the government to come to the blockade site, talk to them and meet their demands, they will stop the blockade.
A total of more than 1,400 people from six Penan and one Kenyah villages are affected by the 944 MW Murum HEP, which started impoundment on Oct 21.
The government has forced relocation of 161 families from three villages affected by the RM4 billion dam to the Tegulang Resettlement Area. This affected 18 families from Long Malim Kenyah, 54 families from Long Malim Penan and 89 families from Long Wat.
The Penan villages that protested against the impoundment of the dam are Long Luar, Long Tangau, Long Menapa and Long Singu.
They have started their blockade protests since Sept 17 as their demands for fair compensation have not been met by the Sarawak state government and its linked corporations, the Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB).
They would be resettled in Metalun, which is still under construction and not ready yet.