Monday 1 September 2014
Australian environmental justice activist refused entry to Malaysia
Australian resident Natalie Lowrey was refused entry into Malaysia after returning as an observer on the criminalisation of environmental defenders against Australian rare earth miner, Lynas Corporation.
On arrival in Malaysia, Lowrey was detained by customs who said she had been blacklisted by Bukit Aman (the police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur) and that she would be deported back to the country she flew in from. She is being sent to Bali and will fly into Sydney on Tuesday 2 September at 6.50am. Lowrey was informed of a strict denial of entry to Malaysia, reasons not given.
Australian rare earths company, Lynas Corporation Ltd, whose processing plant is in Kuantan, Malaysia is the focus of Malaysia’s largest environmental movement. Lynas has been under pressure for the past three years for having no social licence to operate. Their 2 year Temporary Operating Licence (TOL) is due to expire on 2nd September.
Local people are concerned about the contamination of coastal environments and adverse health impacts that could arise from mismanagement of radioactive waste streams, as seen with the rare earth refinery operated by Mitsubishi Chemicals at Bukit Merah in the 80s and 90s.
Lowrey said “The neoliberal model of ‘development’ I s destroying the environment and pitting communities and eco-defenders against powerful corporations and colluding police and governments all around the world.”
Lowrey and 15 Malaysians were arrested at a peaceful protest in June demanding Lynas to close down its operation of the Lynas Advanced Material Plant (LAMP) in Kuantan. Lowrey was detained for 6 days then released without charge and no mention of being unable to return to the country. The Malaysian arrestees are being tried under the Penal Code.
“Their charges against the 15 peaceful Malaysian citizens arrested with me on June 22nd must be dropped including the Gag order that was part of their bail conditions. I was released with no charge so why are they facing a trial, which if convicted, may include jail time?”
Concerned citizens across Malaysia are appealing to the international community to apply pressure on the Malaysian Government and Lynas corporation about the lack of transparency of waste management at the LAMP and for its intimidation tactics against environmental defenders, including members of the grass roots movement Himpunan Hijau.
“The Malaysian government must allow the full enjoyment of environmental and human rights, including the right to defend rights and ensure that corporations operating within it’s country respect the rights of nature, people, and rights defenders.”continued Lowrey.
Local Kuantan resident Seet Ping and secretary of the grassroots movement Himpunan Hijau (Green Assembly) said, “The LAMP was quietly built in our backyards without us knowing about it, and day by day the toxic radioactive wastes are piling up in open storage ponds in the plant which is situated in a low lying swampy area exposed to yearly extreme monsoon weathers.”
“Thousands of Malaysians have mobilised against Lynas over the past three years. We have collected 1.2 million physical signatures within 36 days in a petition calling for the Lynas Advanced Materials Plant to be shut down. We want Lynas to pack up, clean up and get out of Malaysia.”
Tully McIntyre (Australia), Stop Lynas campaign, +61 410 388 187, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mara Bonacci (Sydney), +61 422 229 970, email@example.com
Seet Ping, (Malaysia), +60 199 213 780, firstname.lastname@example.org