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bruno manser fonds fairness im tropenwald bruno mance fonds ary M. Gilles Pélisson a CEO ACCOR Group rer ise Tour Maine-Montparnasse infosbntch 33, avenue de la Maine 75755 Paris Cedex 15 FRANCE REGISTERED Basel, 17 February 2009 Novotel Interhill Kuching Dear Sir, Lam writing with reference to our letter dated 2 February 2007 and to ACCOR's reply dated 27 April 2007, relating to the Novotel Interhill Kuching project. We have, in the meantime, submitted your letter to the Penan communities in Sarawak's Middle Baram region (the Patah and Akah river valleys) who are affected by the logging activities of your business partner, Interhill Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. — in particular the communities of Ba Abang, Long Pakan, Long Item, Long Lilim and Long Kawi (see the attached map). We have held extensive consultations with these communities to ascertain their social and environmental situation and have conducted interviews with leading representatives of these communities. Our research has shown that the information provided by your business partner Interhill Enterprise Sdn. Bhd. on its logging activities does not reflect the true situation on the ground. Interhill has caused, and is still causing, severe environmental degradation of the tropical rainforests in the Middle Baram region and has shown very little respect for the basic needs and the legitimate Native Customary Rights claims of the local communities. We have been urged by local representatives to point out to you the suffering caused to the communities by Interhill's logging activities and to intervene with regard to your cooperation with the Interhill group. Environmental degradation and social problems Interhill’s activities as the operating contractor for logging concession T 0339 have led to severe degradation of the tropical rainforests of Sarawak's Middle Baram region since the late 1980s. This includes the destruction of primeval rainforests and damage to the local communities’ drinking ‘water supplies. Losses of biodiversity, soil erosion, landslides and the siltation of the Patah and Akah rivers are just some of the consequences of Interhill's logging activities. The local communities’ access to natural resources such as rattan, sago, poison dart trees and medicinal plants has been hampered and has made survival for the Middle Baram Penan communities very difficult. The attached satellite image analysis highlights the Interhill logging activities within concession T 0339 since the early 1990s — activities that are still ongoing. Furthermore, Interhill’s logging operations have also led to grave social problems within the communities. In particular, we would like to highlight the cases of Long Item, Long Pakan and Ba Abang, three villages that are located within logging concession T 0339, Interhill’s logging operations area. We would also wish to draw your attention to the Royal Malaysian Police's ongoing investigations into alleged cases of sexual abuse by logging company workers against Penan girls and women in the Middle Baram region. Long Item In 2008, a community representative from Long Item reported that the community had set up blockades against Interhill in 2002, 2006 and 2008, He stated that Interhill had destroyed their fruit trees, their poison dart trees, their graveyard in the forest and their forest reserve. The latest destruction of a gravesite took place in July 2008. Furthermore, the representative stated that Interhill had dumped their waste, including used motor oil from the bulldozers, in a river which is used as a drinking water supply for the village. The villagers are extremely worried because they heard that Interhill was granted a licence to plant Acacia trees that would replace the natural forest. The community also reports that Interhill deploys gangsters to intimidate them when they protest against the company's activities. "Ever since Interhill came to this area, I haven't seen anything that has benefited us or has been given to us", the spokesperson said. "People are worried or scared because we look for food and development but instead we find problems caused by the employees of Interhill,(..) Interhill is very bad. The company does not show any consideration for the people. That's all I can say and I hope my words will reach a big audience outside there.” Long Pakan The Penan community of Long Pakan also participated in a logging road blockade against Interhill, which was set up in September 2008. Before that, blockades against logging activities had been set up in 1987, 1989 and 2002. In 2002, the community was asked by Interhill and the Forest Department to mark out a forest reserve which would be protected. Later on, Interhill logged the forest reserve, despite promises to preserve it. Prior to that, the police had been brought in by Interhill to dismantle the Penan blockade. Afterwards, Interhill and Samling built a new timber camp at Ba Kabeng within logging concession T 0339. Asa result of Interhill's logging operations, Long Pakan has no access to clean drinking water. Interhill fails to respect the community leaders and has frequently resorted to threats and intimidation, In 2008, Interhill had 18 bulldozers in operation in the area. A company representative issued a threat to the community that 80 bulldozers would soon be brought in. "If there is nobody to pressurise Interhill we will be in trouble, because they don't respect us and they don't do what they promise us", a community spokesman said. Ba Abang Representatives of Ba Abang participated in campaigns launched against Interhill in 2006 and 2008. In February 2008, a community leader was intimidated by the Interhill manager, who was accompanied by a person known to be a gangster. The community had already reported intimidations by Interhill representatives back in February 2006. In 2005, Interhill polluted the rivers in the community's drinking water catchment area. Drunken Interhill workers regularly frequent the villages and bring alcohol to the village. The company manager fails to recognize the community representatives: "Sometimes the Interhill ‘manager laughs at us because we don't have the power or the experience to deal with them". ‘Sexual abuse of Penan girls and women by timber workers In 2008, the Penan reported a number of cases of sexual abuse by timber company workers in the Middle Baram region. The Bruno Manser Fund made these cases public and submitted a confidential report on the issue to the Royal Malaysian Police on 28 November 2008. The Malaysian media have provided extensive coverage of this issue. On 6 October 2008, a report published by "The Star" newspaper highlighted a number of cases from villages located within logging concession T 0339. Currently, investigations are being carried out by both the Royal Malaysian Police and the Malaysian Minister of Women, Family and Community Development. Furthermore, SUHAKAM, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, has announced an investigation into the subject. ‘We conclude from these facts that, by cooperating with Interhill on the Novotel Interhill Kuching project, ACCOR has taken on a very heavy responsibility. After careful examination of the material provided by our Malaysian partners, we are convinced that this cooperation with Interhill is incompatible with ACCOR’s high environmental and social standards. For this reason, we are formally asking you, Mr. Pélisson, as the Chief Executive Officer in charge, to ensure that ACCOR terminates its participation in the Novotel Interhill Kuching project. To underline the gravity of this request, we have started a petition amongst our members and friends. ‘The Bruno Manser Fund is willing to provide you with further information on this sensitive issue and is looking forward to your reply. Yours faithfully, fe ie Ihren = BRUNO MANSER FUND Dr. Lukas Straumann Director Annexes: - Satellite image analysis of Interhill activities in the middle Baram region of Sarawak (concession T 0339), 1991 - 2005 - Map of Penan villages located within the Interhill logging operations area (concession T 0339) in the Middle Baram region of Sarawak - Newspaper report on the sexual abuse of Penan girls and women by timber company workers in Sarawak's Middle Baram region (The Star, 6 October 2008)