Indigenous CSOs want UK’s King Charles III to stand up for Sarawak forests

Lim holding a copy of the letter to King Charles III in front of Buckingham Palace in United Kingdom.

KUCHING, Feb 13: Sarawak indigenous communities have requested King Charles III as the head of the Commonwealth, to support their campaign to end rainforest destruction.

According to a press release issued today, representatives from Sarawak civil society organisations, SAVE Rivers and Keruan Organisation, led a procession to Buckingham Palace to deliver the letter to the King during their visit to the United Kingdom (UK) last month.

The community representatives argued that UK, as the third largest importer of Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS)-certified timber, has the power and responsibility to eliminate destructive timber from Malaysia from its supply chain.

“While Charles III cannot influence legislative reform, communities are asking for his symbolic backing of their Indigenous-managed protected forest: the Upper Baram Forest Area,” the statement read.

The letter to the King was signed by four groups of communities in the Baram River Basin.

The letter also extends an invitation to King Charles to visit the Upper Baram Forest Area (colloquially known as the Baram Peace Park) to experience the richness of the forest and the impact of forest loss.

“If Charles III were to lend his support to the peace park, it would send a strong message that he is committed to conservation efforts around the Commonwealth for the sake of our shared humanity,” said Celine Lim, director of SAVE Rivers and a member of the delegation in the statement.

The CSOs said that Charles III has a strong legacy of environmental work, and is well aware of the dangers of deforestation where during the COP26 climate summit in 2021 hosted by the UK, Charles III gave the opening speech, saying that ‘time has quite literally run out’ on climate change.

In a video to King Charles from the field, local indigenous leader Pejau said: “As a farmer I can feel the changes of the climate and we cannot stay any longer in the farm due to the hot temperature and high humidity. The season cycle has changed drastically. We ask your help, Your Highness, to listen to our grievances and do something to combat this climate crisis.”

The CSOs await a response from the Palace. – DayakDaily