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Missing Penan Chief Found Dead, Suspected Murdered

Missing Penan chief found dead, suspected murdered

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear friends, we have to report the sad news that missing Penan leader Kelesau Naan, headman of the Penan settlement of Long Kerong in the Upper Baram region of Sarawak, was found dead near his village on 17 December 2007.

The late headman of Long Kerong, Kelesau Naan. Image (C) Bruno Manser Fonds

According to a report by Malaysiakini, which BMF was able to confirm from third parties, the skulls and bones of Kelesau were found near Sungai Segita, about two hours' walk from Long Kerong.

According to Malaysiakini, the Penan found evidence that Kelesau was assaulted while on the way to check an animal trap he had set in the forest near his family's hut. "His hand was broken and looked as if it had been hit by a sharp object", Malaysiakini quotes Kelesau's relative Matin Bujang.

The Penan are convinced that Kelesau's death was not caused by an accident and suspect he was murdered because of his role as a political leader. They announced to file a police report at the Miri police station. Kelesau is a principal plaintiff of a landrights claim by four Penan communities against the Sarawak State Government and the Malaysian timber giant Samling. The court case was filed in 1998 and has been awaiting trial ever since.

Friends and supporters of the Penan all over the world feel very sorry about the loss of a highly respected and courageous Penan leader whose community has struggled over fifteen years to defend its rainforest from logging by the Samling corporation.

The Bruno Manser Fonds asks the Sarawak State Government and the Malaysian Federal Government to set an immediate end to the ongoing violations of the Penan's human rights and to fully clarify the circumstances of Kelesau's death by means of an independent investigation.


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