Sarawak Indigenous NGOs demand an end to timber greenwashing in UK

Lim (left) and Joe reading a message to global forest defenders. Photo credit: Kelly Hill

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KUCHING, Jan 26: An Indigenous delegation from Sarawak is in the United Kingdom (UK) to launch a new UK campaign to clean up the tropical timber trade and to petition the UK government to halt imports of so-called “sustainable timber” under the Malaysian Timber Certification Scheme (MTCS).

According to a joint press release issued today by SAVE Rivers, Keruan Organisation, Friends of the Earth, Clean up the Tropical Timber Trade (CUT), Bruno Manser Fonds (BMF), and The Borneo Project, the UK is the world’s third largest importer of MTCS-certified timber.

“As a result, the new CUT campaign highlights the effects of destructive logging in Borneo’s forests and Indigenous territories, and encourages the UK, as a key market destination for Malaysian timber, to act,” the joint press release stated.

SAVE Rivers head, Celine Lim who is Kayan, and Komeok Joe, a Penan elder and the head of Keruan, have met with UK and European government representatives, Malaysian diaspora, and climate justice non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and activists while in the UK.

“They have raised their communities’ concerns over deforestation and corporations’ failure to respect Indigenous land rights, as well as the role of the UK in driving these impacts,” according to the joint statement.

On Jan 23, Lim and Joe were joined by over 30 UK supporters in the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall to mourn the loss of the world’s rainforests and express gratitude for the Earth.

“From underneath Cecilia Vicuna’s gargantuan ‘Dead Forest Quipu’ installation, Joe and Lim called out in solidarity to Indigenous Earth activists across the globe, and bestowed a traditional Sarawak ‘ash-blessing’ on participants during a powerful ritual-ceremony devised by British artist and activist Gaby Solly.

“The group went on to form a ‘funeral procession’ through London, to hand-deliver letters to the UK government and to King Charles, Leader of the Commonwealth, demanding UK action to stop further rainforest destruction.

“The letter invites the King and British government representatives to visit their area and witness the destruction themselves,” the joint press release added.

Last year, the Indigenous delegation visited the Netherlands, the top importer of MTCS-certified timber, to bring their #StopTheChop campaign abroad and demonstrate how the global community is linked to rainforest destruction. — DayakDaily