'Penans will die if jungle is destroyed'

K Kabilan

Modified 25 Nov 2009, 12:36 pm

"There are no more trees in my village. They have been logged away. Now they want to plant palm oil trees in this area."

Penan village leader Unga Paren is on a mission. He wants his people to be able to continue living peacefully in their environment as they have been doing for thousands of years.

He wants all form of harassments and pressures to uproot them from the villages by the logging companies and politicians - at most times working in tandem - to stop.

He also wants assurances from the authorities to recognise and respect their native customary rights (NCR) to land and also of their tana' penurip (forests for hunting and gathering).

It is a tall order, especially when it is waged against the powerful state and dominant logging companies.

"We are only fighting for our rights. Even a child in the mother's womb has its rights," the weather-beaten Unga told Malaysiakini when met in a Penan village in Ulu Baram recently.

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