Sunday, 15 November 2009

An oathstone ceremony protesting the Kaiduan Dam

Marrakech, Morocco

News from our fieldsite in Malaysia: There is an ongoing protest against the building of the Kaiduan Dam, which will make environmental refugees of the Kadazandusun people in the Ulu Papar region of Sabah, Malaysia.  On 17 October, the 11 Ulu Papar communities gathered on the banks of the Papar River in the village of Timpayasah to declare their common stand in fighting for their lands and sealed this oath in blood.  Representatives of each community placed a plant around the oath stone.  The plants chosen, among them gingers and palms, cannot survive with too much water, symbolizing what will be lost if Ulu Papar is flooded with the building of the dam.  As reported in the Daily Express, a local newspaper, one of the community leaders stated “In the old days, the oathstone was used as a territorial boundary of a village to demarcate land ownership among the Kadazandusun community. But this time we chose the traditional ceremony … as a strong sign that we … have vowed to stay on our land.”

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