‘Release Aussie activist’


Athi Shankar, FMT

Friends of Earth International (FoEI) has appealed to the Malaysian government to immediately release Australian environmental activist Natalie Lowrey who was detained during Sunday’s anti-Lynas demonstration in Gebeng, Pahang.

In its letter to Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and four others on June 23, FoEI urged the government to drop all charges against Natalie and to allow her to return to Australia.

The Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, Pahang police chief Sharifuddin Ab Ghani, Immigration director-general Aloyah Mamat and Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail were the other four addressed by FoEI chairperson Jagoda Munic.

“We believe that the authorities’ failure to comply could jeopardise Malaysia’s reputation and put the nation in a bad light internationally,” said Jagoda Munic in the appeal letter made available to the press by Sahabat Alam Malaysia, a member of FoEI.

FoEI is the world’s largest grassroot environmental network, uniting 74 groups from around the globe with over two million members and supporters. The group campaigns on environmental and social issues.

Natalie Lowrey is being held in a lock-up at the Kuantan police headquarters.

Jagoda said Natalie had been an environmental campaigner for the past 16 years and had been actively involved in the Stop Lynas Incorporation (SLI) in Australia over the past few years.

“Natalie had been in Gebeng to represent SLI and to extend the group’s solidarity and support to the local community and people of Kuantan.”

SLI is an Australian group set up in response to thousands of Malaysians campaigning against the rare earth miner, Lynas Corporation of Australia.

The Kuantan Lynas Advanced Materials Plant (LAMP) is a rare earth processing plant owned by Australian Lynas Corporation.

Jagoda said SLI had been closely monitoring the activities of Lynas Corporation in Australia and LAMP, in close collaboration with local non-governmental organisations and communities in Malaysia.

She said the refinery in Gebeng would be the world’s largest rare earth processing plant.

“The first shipment of raw materials from Australia has arrived at the plant and this would potentially expose tonnes of radioactive and toxic wastes with long-term effects on the people living in surrounding areas of Gebeng,” she added.

“The Malaysian government should reconsider the approval given to the environmentally damaging LAMP activities.

“We understand and deeply share the grave concerns of SLI, Malaysian NGOs and the local community that such rare earth processing would not have been allowed in Australia but has been approved to be carried out in Malaysia,” said Jagoda.