Bruno Manser, Land Rights

Linked with Bruno Manser – Switzerland.

Published on The Borneo Project, article not dated.

The man who made the plight of the indigenous people in Sarawak known to the world is the well-known activist Bruno Manser, a 46-year old Swiss national who spent six years (1984 to 1990) living with a group of nomadic Penan. In May 2000, Manser disappeared near Batu Lawi, a 2000-meter sheer limestone pinnacle in Sarawak. His body has not been found, and he is now presumed dead.

In his six years with the Penan, Manser became so well-versed in their language and culture that he became an accepted member of their community. It was also around this time that the Penan and other Dayaks began organizing blockades in protest against logging activities. The Malaysian government attributed this to Manser, accusing him of instigating the blockades. In doing so it was ignoring the fact that this resistance had been building up for many years prior to his arrival – the blockades would have occurred even if he had not been present …

… Conclusion: The people of Sarawak have a long and proud history. They live in a very extraordinary land, with some of the most outstanding flora and fauna in the world. One common theme though their history is the importance of land. If the indigenous people can keep control of their land, development projects that benefit only a few rich people cannot move forward, and the great jungles of Borneo may not be destroyed. Sarawak’s traditional cultures can survive, and interrelate with Westernization on their own terms, at their own pace. The Borneo Project exists as a conduit for Western people, technology and knowledge to help Sarawak’s indigenous people, instead of hurting them. (full text).

Comments are closed.