The Malaysian state of Sarawak was until recently home to some of the last truly nomadic peoples of Borneo, who roamed its wild and rich rainforests as they had done since time immemorial. Starting in the early 1980s, industrial logging companies moved deep into Sarawak’s hinterland, tearing down forests, forcing forest peoples from their traditional lands, and laying the groundwork for large-scale conversion of one biodiverse systems into monoculture plantations. Mines and large-scale dams proliferated across the landscape, affecting rivers and further displacing forest-dependent communities. This orgy of ecological devastation was coupled with astounding levels of corruption: campaigners allege that Abdul Taib bin Mahmud, the Chief Minister of Sarawak from 1981 to 2014, amassed billions of dollars in wealth during his reign, despite earning a modest civil servant salary. Satellite image showing large-scale forest clearance in Sarawak in 2013. Courtesy of Google Earth. Sarawak’s Indigenous peoples put up resistance against these state-backed incursions into their traditional territories, blockading logging roads, protesting in Malaysian cities, establishing NGOs, filing legal challenges, and forming alliances with local and international groups like the Bruno Manser Fund and The Borneo Project. They were met with intimidation and violence, ongoing destruction of their forest home, and criminalization of their activities. Protest sign and logging in the Baram Peace Park area in November 2019. Photo credit: The Borneo Project Indigenous peoples in Sarawak continue to face these challenges, including a current battle against Malaysian forestry giant Samling, which recently threatened legal against Penan and Kenyah communities for…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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