Rainforest activist jailed

August 7, 1991

Rainforest activist jailed

By Nick Everett

PERTH — A local Rainforest Action Group member, Nancy Rolfe, is serving a 60-day sentence for criminal trespass in Sarawak. She was one of eight protesters arrested two weeks ago during a logging protest at Kuala Baram.

The plight of the Penan people, and the future of their rainforest home in Sarawak, have been the focus of Perth RAG's activities for several years. For the Penan people, this struggle has involved four years of blockades, arrests and harassment from Malaysian authorities.

Less than a month ago, more than 50 men, women and children were arrested in Lumbang province for "obstructing logging roads". A 400-strong blockade continues in nearby Long Ajang.

The Kuala Baram protesters occupied four cranes, two of which were on loaded barges. In a letter smuggled from prison, Rolfe spoke of the success of the protest: "Dayak workers shouted 'we support you' and we could see the press hovering around in boats.

"We were exhilarated. After weeks of planning, everything had gone better than expected. We had stopped the export of logs for eight and a half hours."

Rolfe commented that the deforestation was obvious. Logging has been occurring at 18 million cubic metres a year and has resulted in poverty and disease for the Penan people.

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