Malaysia: Sarawak Indigenous highlighted in latest edition of SPEAK OUT

latest edition of SPEAK OUT entitled ”Rampaging the Rainforests” was launched at the ‘Randau Pemansang’ (Forum on Development of Indigenous People) organised by the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) in Bintulu, Sarawak on 21 February 2009. More than a hundred indigenous people and community leaders converged to once again call for a stop to violations of their Native Customary Rights (NCR) and for the oil palm industry and state government to follow the guidelines set by the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).

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“Rampaging the Rainforests” contains the findings and recommendations
of an International Fact Finding Mission (IFFM) regarding the land
rights of the indigenous peoples of Sarawak. Jointly organised by
SADIA, Tenaganita, People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) and
Pesticides Action Network Asia & the Pacific (PAN AP), the IFFM was
composed of Justice Pana Chand Jain of Centre for Community Economics
and Development Consultants Society (CECOEDECON) from India, Ravadee
Prasertcharoensuk of Sustainable Development Foundation (SDF) from
Thailand and Debra Erenberg of Rainforest Action Network (RAN) from
the United States.

The IFFM investigated instances of NCR violationsthat have grown to exceed a startling 170 claims. It visited over 19 communities consisting of 70 villages and long houses, met with about 825 people from the north to central and south of Sarawak and looked into increased cases of violence against and harassment of indigenous community leaders.

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Tese customary rights system have evolved in recent years. As the
population grew, family and individual farms have expanded. Pemakai
menoa lands have disappeared in some places, as land has been divided
into parcels. People’s customary rights over land and resources are
pre-established and ofcially obtained.

Upon James Brooke’s arrival in Sarawak in 1838, his government acknowledged the existence of customary law in Borneo and throughout the eastern archipelago. Order IX of 1875 ordained and recognised native rights over land. Section 22 of Rajah’s Order No. 8 of 1920 known as Land Order 1920 gave recognition to native holdings in accordance with customary laws.

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