Bruno Manser – Switzerland (1954 – 2000?)

Linked with The Bruno Manser Fonds BMF, with The Borneo Project, and with Bruno Manser, Land Rights.

Bruno Manser (born August 25, 1954 in Basel, Switzerland) was an environmental activist. He was well-known in Switzerland for his public activism for rainforest preservation and the protection of indigenous peoples. Manser created richly illustrated notebooks during his stay in 1984 to 1990 with the Penan people, in the jungle of the Eastern Malaysian state of Sarawak, on the island of Borneo, near the Indonesian border of Kalimanta. He stayed with the nomadic band of Along Sega, who became the Penan figurehead for their struggle. He also visited many other settled Penan communities in the Upper Baram district. These notebooks were later published, with some success, by the Christoph Merian press in Basel. Manser, however, was declared persona non grata in Malaysia and had to leave the country with a bounty of $40,000 on his head … (full text).

Bruno Manser’s 1000 photos archive: search in english, (en Francais, auf deutsch). Click on the three pictures, a hidden search tool behind each appears, to help you to select by key words between the 1000 (small) photos. Click on them to enlarge.

See all articles about Bruno Manser (and mainly this photo archive) on Google-News-Bruno-Manser.


Bruno Manser – Switzerland (1954 – 2000?)


Bruno Manser – Laki Penan

The engagement and commitment of Bruno Manser in favor of the indigenous people of the tropical forests continues with the work of the Bruno Manser Fund BMF, who resides in Basel. The most important project is at present time the support of the Penan with a “Community Mapping” project, whereby especially trained Penan teams map their homeland and traditional use areas in the forest. The resulting maps serve i.a. as basis and evidence for various land right cases pending before the local courts … (full text).

Rainforest dwellers successfully maintain logging road blockade in one of Malaysia’s last virgin jungle areas, Aug. 14, 2006. (BMW).

So, what did Rio achieve? Well, at that time we were truly able to build on the upsurge, on the recognition by people and governments who wanted to do something about the state of the planet and the state of the human person. I am not being over-dramatic. It is true; you could feel it in the air at that time. Bruno Manser wanted to protest about deforestation. He had had an operation on his leg, because he had broken it in Switzerland. But in Rio he jumped from a parachute, riding piggy-back on somebody else, just to make his point. So people do go to extremities. You could really feel this atmosphere in 1992, and everybody believed that governments and people were sincerely committed to the issues and commitments that came out of Rio … (full text).

En présence des cinéastes.

Bruno Manser, Swiss champion for the rights of indigenous people in Sarawak (Malaysian Borneo) was arrested at about 1.40pm on Wednesday 17th July after spending two and a half hours chained to the top of a 30 foot high lamp post outside the G7 media centre in London. The activist climbed the lamp post unaided from pavement height. He then unrolled a banner drawing attention to the plight of the Sarawak rainforests and the indigenous people whose lives depend on them. Sarawak’s forests will be totally logged out within 6 years, resulting in mass extinction and the destruction of local people’s livelihoods … (full text).

Death of Rain Forest Defender BRUNO MANSER Declared.

Malaysia’s deforestation rate is accelerating faster than any other tropical country in the world according to data from the United Nations. Analysis of figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) shows that Malaysia’s annual deforestation rate jumped almost 86 percent between 2000-2005 and the 1990-2000 period. In total, Malaysia lost an average of 140,200 hectares — 0.65 percent of its forest area — per year since 2000. For comparison, the southeast Asian country lost an average of 78,500 hectares, or 0.35 percent of its forests, annually during the 1990s … (full text).

Manser family shocked by Credit Suisse deal with loggers.

Disappearance: As of 2006, Manser is missing and presumed dead. His last known communication is a letter mailed to his girlfriend on May 22, 2000 from the village of Bario, in the Kelabit Highlands, Sarawak, where he had returned to meet the nomadic Penan he lived with for so long. Manser is still regarded by the Penan as somewhat of an idol, named “Lakei Penan” (Penan Man). A man that united them and has been accused by the government of arranging numerous blockades of logging roads (although no proof has been given) and having some positive effect by protesting in Tokyo and Europe about the alleged inhumanity of the tropical timber industry. After search expeditions proved fruitless, a civil court in Basel ruled on March 10, 2005 that Manser be considered dead. Manser’s unpopularity with Sarawak’s government and the logging companies such as Samling Plywood, who have been known to use intimidation and violence as scare tactics have prompted suspicions surrounding his death, none of which have yet been proved. (wikipedia).

Tong Tana, December 2000, Journal of the Bruno Manser Fonds.

I’ve met Manser several times. We are not close, but I respect his understanding of the realpolitik that is at the heart of most fights between native peoples and paternalistic governments. He achieved worldwide recognition from 1984-1990 when he lived in the rainforest with the semi-nomadic Penan of Sarawak. Malaysian officials saw him as a fugitive and a provacateur and called him an “enemy of the state number one.” Manser constantly avoided arrest with the panache of a Swiss Robin Hood. When he left Sarawak, through Brunei, he returned to Switzerland to create the non-profit Bruno Manser Fonds. In 1999 he returned to Sarawak and paraglided onto the front lawn of Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. Manser offered a truce in exchange for the government creating a biosphere reserve for the Penan. The Swiss man with the impish grin and John Lennon glasses was deported. Manser has arguably been the most potent catalyst for media coverage of the fight by the Penan, and other Sarawak natives, to protect their forests against what they say are insensitive governments and greedy timber barons … (full text).

Find him and his publications on Google audio/Video-search; on Google Book-search; on Google Scholar-search; on Google Group-search; on Google Blog-search.


Friends of the Penan;

Rencontres Internationales du Documentaire de Montréal RIDM.

Comments are closed.