Categories Asia, Blog, Malaysia

Here’s how you can support Sarawakian Indigenous organization SAVE Rivers against a ‘SLAPP’ defamation case

One of the leading Sarawakian Indigenous organizations, SAVE Rivers, and its leaders face a meritless defamation lawsuit in Malaysian court filed by logging company Samling designed to bankrupt and silence them

First published on 04/24/2023

Shared by ICCA Consortium Southeast Asia

SAVE Rivers (ICCA Consortium Member) and four of its directors are being sued by Malaysian logging company Samling in a meritless defamation lawsuit filed in July 2020. This alleged defamation came about based on the #StoptheChop Campaign advocated by SAVE Rivers in 2020.

For the chronology of the case, please visit this “alert” article shared by Bruno Manser Fonds titled “SLAPP suit against Sarawakian NGO SAVE Rivers by PEFC-certified logging company.

The logging company is seeking an apology, an injunction to stop SAVE Rivers from reporting community claims, and damages in the sum of RM 5,000,000 (EUR 1,000,000).

This kind of lawsuit without merit is termed by experts as a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP). Globally, SLAPPs are an increasingly common strategy for companies to attempt to silence activists, journalists, and civil society organizations who expose wrongdoing and voice criticism.

Samling targeted eight articles that were posted on the Gerenai FMU certification issues as allegedly defamatory in nature. These include quotes and statements from members of the community themselves.

Amid a difficult and challenging time in facing the trial period next month (May 2023), the #StopTheChop campaign is still ongoing. It continues to receive attention from various parties.

On the other hand, support for SAVE Rivers in dealing with this lawsuit continues to flow from the community and activists at both the national and global levels, including the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders through the #StopTheSLAPP campaign to gather more significant and more robust solidarity. Previously, there had been more than one hundred groups requesting a withdrawal suit form against SAVE Rivers and its board members.

Press Release: United civil society calls on Samling to #StopTheSLAPP (PDF File)

Let us get together to support Save Rivers. Your solidarity is still needed to support Indigenous Peoples’ rights and protect environmental and human rights defenders.

Join us in this global #StoptheSLAPP campaign.

You can do so by supporting them through the following actions!

Share a solidarity selfie:

Sent an email as an ally:

And below, you will find news articles and resources on how your solidarity through the sign-on anti-SLAPP letter helps the cause of the Indigenous rights defenders.