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Independent news sourced directly from West Papua

Thanks to MIFEE, 3.6% of Indonesia’s Emissions produced in Merauke

From Bintang Papua via awasMifee

Published: September 13, 2014

The Merauke Regency is experiencing a rapid rate of forest degradation and loss. This is illustrated by Merauke Regency’s contribution to total emissons1 in the province of Papua which is 45.29%. Merauke’s contribution to Indonesia’s national emissions is 3.6%.

Tangke Mangi, who is the Merauke Bupati’s Expert Staff for Economy and Finance, said that a high emissions rate resulted from forest degradation and loss in Merauke. The extent of forest cover in Merauke Regency is 2.12 million hectares, compared with 22.25 million hectares of forest cover and 3.084 million hectares of scrubland in Papua [province] as a whole.

“Merauke Regency as part of Indonesia, has already been assigned as an area for low-carbon development in Papua Province. So we have to swiftly follow up this initiative by compiling a Regency-level Strategic Action Plan (SRAK), he said in a workshop presenting the idea of the SRAK in Cafe Bellafiesta yesterday.

It has been mentioned that Merauke’s emissions are a result of forest degradation and loss, which means they are caused by exploitation on the part of several corporate investors that are involved in the MIFEE program.

“We can understand that this is happening because of the MIFEE program, so we need to balance it with the right mitigation actions. That way there can be a balance between economic development and environmental conservation”, he said.

He made it clear that several actions that are already taking place can be synchronised with a mitigation program such as participative mapping of important places for indigenous communities, as is outlined in Merauke Regency’s land-use plan (RTRW) “The people need to be give space and places so they can take care of their sacred sites as well as the important places which are sources of the indigenous community’s everyday livelihood needs”, he added.

Additionally the national commitment to reduce emissions by 41 percent is supported by Papua province which has been putting together a strategic action plan for the whole province. This will then be implemented by all development sectors in Papua, creating three zones of green economy and low-carbon development.

Source: Bintang Papua http://bintangpapua.com/index.php/lain-lain/papua/papua-selatan/item/17014-kabupaten-merauke-penyumbang-emisi-terbesar-di-papua

Communities Should Decide First, Before Permits are Issued

By AwasMifee

Published: September 9, 2014

Peta-HTI-PT.-Wahana-Samudera-Sentosa-600x423

Indigenous people in Okaba think the government is disrespecting and ignoring the rights of indigenous Marind communities to information, and to take their own decisions about whether or not to surrender land rights.

According to Gerardus Kaize, a Marind community leader from Okaba district, before the government issues any location permits the community should be able to decide whether they want plantations. “The government and companies should come and talk to the community and give them information, and then the community should discuss these proposals according to our customary law and come to our decsion, because this land has owners, it is not some empty wasteland”, he said.

Gerardus Kaize conveyed this opinion as a criticism of the government policy after receiving a circular letter and notice from the head of the Regional Environmental Management Agency for Papua Province, which asked for written suggestions, opinions and responses from the community about granting an Environmental Permit to PT Wahana Samudera Sentosa to use forest wood for an industrial timber plantation (HTI) over 79,006 hectaares in Ngguti and Okaba districts, which was issued by the Merauke Bupati (elected regency leader) in his decision document 133/2014 on 20th March 2014.

The government and company have yet to sit down together with the villagers and discuss in detail the planned industrial timber plantation or reach an agreement with the community. How can the community give their suggestions or responses if they have not been given any information about what the company wants to do?

“It’s just about keeping the people in a state of ignorance. However good a government land-management program might be, it is bound to fail if it does not involve the community, that’s why we are asking for the industrial tree plantation to be delayed until the community has discussed it and come to a decision.” Gerardus Kaize said. He is also a well-known educator and was a successful candidate in the Merauke District Legislative Assembly elections this year.

Community aspirations are that they do not wish to give up their rights to their land and forests, and the reason is because forest is the source of the Malind indigenous people’s livelihood, which the community wants to use for their own benefit. “We don’t need money, but we do need the forest to be able to continue our livelihoods and for future generations,“ Gerardus Kaize said.

Source: Pusaka http://pusaka.or.id/masyarakat-harus-duduk-ambil-keputusan/

Controversy of Environmental Permit Mechanism that Sidelines Community Participation

From awasMifee

Published: September 8, 2014

On 16th August 2014, the Cenderawasih Pos newspaper displayed a notice from the Papuan Provincial Environmental Management Agency (BPLH), taking up about 10 x 20 cm of one column. It informed the papers’ readers about the Merauke Bupati (elected regency leader)’s decision (number 133/2014) which concerned an environmental permit for a timber enterprise on PT Wahana Samudera Sentosa (WSS)’s 79,006 hectare industrial forestry concession in Ngguti and Okaba districts, Merauke Regency.

The community were asked to give their suggestions, opinions and responses to this environmental permit in writing to the head of the BPLH in Papua, within a time limit of five working days from when the notice was published (12 -18 August 2014).

The government issues these environmental permits as a prerequisite that those wishing to initiate new developments must meet in order to obtain their permit to operate, and it is concerned with protecting and managing the environment. According to Government Regulation 27/2012 concerning Environmental Permits, each enterprise and/or project which needs an Environmental Impact Assessment (Amdal) or Environmental Management and Monitoring Plans (UKL-UPL), is obliged to obtain an Environmental Permit. The process consists of three stages: a) compiling the Amdal and UKL-UPL, b) evaluating the Amdal and examining the UKL-UPL, and c) requesting and being issued an environmental permit (cf. Article 2 of the regulation 27/2012)

In the case of PT WSS’s Environmental Permit (and this is also the case in general for companies operating in Papua), the government and developers have been seen to go through the steps required to obtain their environmental permit, seemingly just so they can meet the requirements of the procedure laid out in Government Regulation 27/2012. The substance of their research into the significant impacts of proposed business plans tends to lack attention to detail, as it is just based on a cursory academic study. The knowledge and participation of affected communities is ignored and tends to be pushed aside.

Diminishing the participation of indigenous communities and marginalising their indigenous knowledge takes place at each stage, from when the Amdal and UKL-UPL are compiled, through the evaluation and examination, right up to the moment the permit is issued. For example, during the Amdal compilation stage, the government provides for community participation through 1) publishing a plan of work and 2) public consultation, where the community has the right to give suggestions, opinions and responses to the plans during a period of 10 days from the announcement, which they must communicate in writing to the developer, minister, governor, bupati or mayor.

The mechanism of giving notice which relies on the media as explained above, is a way of reducing the the indigenous peoples of the interior of Papua’s opportunities for participation. The reason is they have very limited access to news media such as the Cenderawasih Pos, and do not have the luxury of radios and televisions, they do not even have electricity. How could it be possible for them to receive the notice and participate in the plans?

Establishing a time limit of ten days for suggestions and opinons could also prove difficult for Papuan indigenous people who learn from their experience and build up their knowledge over many years. Whether an individual, or the wider community, they need a long time, to read, study, understand, consult and discuss, before giving a response or opinion to any proposed development they have just heard about.

In this way, the time limit also limits the chances for local indigenous people to find out about the plans and participate in developing plans. Especially if government and developers do not provide independent and professional workers who can help the community study the development documents.

The next way in which the community are pushed out of the process is in the Amdal consultations, which only involves a few representatives of the communities and takes place in a hotel in the regency or provincial capital. In the Malind people’s social system, discussions about how to make use of the land on a wider scale have to take place collectively between communities from the four directions of the wind, from the Kondo to the Digoel rivers. Such a meeting should take place on the land itself, not in an air-conditioned meeting room with ceramic floors.

The community is forcibly introduced to the knowledge of how environmental impacts are evaluated and a new mechanism of taking decisions which is beyond their grasp. Community participation becomes merely procedural and follows the developers’ wishes. The way this process of participation and decision-making is steered off course is a clear illustration of discrimination against indigenous social systems and the limits to Papuan indigenous people’s civil and political rights.

Existing mechanisms and institutions for awarding environmental permits are not appropriate in the land of Papua. It is highly necessary to develop  mechanisms and institutions for giving permits which prioritised the authority and indigenous rights of local communities, as well as principles of justice.

Source: Pusaka http://pusaka.or.id/kontroversi-mekanisme-izin-lingkungan-menggembosi-partisipasi-masyarakat/

More Agression from Brimob in Nabire, this time Smashing up a Local Family’s House

From awasMifee 

September 3, 2014

Police Mobile Brigade members sent to work as private security in PT Nabire Baru’s oil palm concession in Nabire, Papua have been behaving badly once more. One team paid a visit to the house of Yunas Money, who is a customary landowner. Fully armed, they proceeded to smash and destroy the contents of his house.

This police action, which took place on Friday 29th August 2014 at 3pm Papua time, left Yunus Money’s domestic furniture damaged, while the inhabitants of the house ran to seek refuge in the forest. [It appeared that] the Brimob wished to shoot Yunus dead because they felt aggrieved at the community pressure over how Brimob were working as security guards for the oil palm plantation.

Robertino Hanebora, the Secretary of the Yerisiam Ethnic Group, reported that the policemen had been trying to find out the whereabouts of Yunus who is also the leader of a local cooperative. They were annoyed because of the community’s strong protests against the Brimob security (see also this previous report [Indonesian Original] [English translation]).
Robertino said that although the protest letters which had been sent out had still not resulted in any follow-up action in the field, Brimob’s latest action showed that they were dismayed with our protest.

Local indigenous customary landowners had sent a letter to the national police headquarters through their local cooperative on 21st July 2014, demanding the withdrawal of Brimob troops from the company’s concession because their presence was making the community anxious.

Responding to arrogance on the part of Brimob working as security for PT Nabire Baru’s oil palm plantation, indigenous customary land owners from the Yerisiam people in Sima village, Yaur district, are requesting that chief of police in Papua immediately withdraws the Brimob guards from the plantation and replaces them with general police working out of the Nabire police station. This is the request of the Bumiowi cooperative, as signed by its leader Yunus Money.

Source: Pusaka http://pusaka.or.id/brimob-nabire-baru-intimidasi-ketua-koperasi-bumiowi/

Cafe Pacific: Indonesian ‘open door’ policy on West Papua ‘a lie’ as French journos still detained

first published Saturday, September 6, 2014

Two arrested French journalists, Thomas Dandois (centre) and Valentine Bourrat (left), from Franco-German television channel Arte, are photographed with an unidentified Indonesian immigration official in Jayapura in Papua province last week. Image: AsiaOne

by David Robie, Cafe Pacific

RECENT claims by Indonesian authorities that there was a fresh “open door” policy over inquisitive journalists wanting to enter West Papua and report “on the level” have turned out to be false.

Hopeful signs through insightful reports (long with intelligence minders) by SBS Dateline’s Mark Davis, Michael Bachelard of The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald’s Jakarta bureau and AAP’s Karlis Salna that the Indonesian government had indeed seen the light – or at least was having a serious rethink – have turned out to be nothing but a mirage.

In the latest July/August edition of The Walkley Magazine, a Bachelard article featured “Opening the doors to West Papua” about his experience in January 2013 as “the first foreign reporter (excluding travel writers) to be given entry for about 12 months, and the first Australian for significantly longer”. He wrote rather prematurely:

“I hope the Indonesian government sees that these stories have not caused the sky to fall in, because only then will they open up West Papua. Then perhaps, reporting there can become just like any other part of my job.”

However, the detention of two French journalists – who are facing charges of “treason” and “immigration crime” – and a West Papuan tribal leader early last month has made a mockery of the new Indonesian policy.

Thomas Dandois and Valentine Bourrat …
file pictures from Tabloid Jubi.

Even before these arrests, a leading West Papuan journalist, Tabloid Jubi publisher Victor Mambor (also chair of the West Papua branch of the Alliance of Independent Journalists), on a visit to New Zealand just a few days earlier, had warned journalists and civil society activists not to be seduced by Indonesian claims of “press freedom”.

Arrested on August 5 for working on tourist visas, Thomas Dandois, 40, and 29-year-old Valentine Bourrat  today remain in detention, along with Areki Wanimbo, an indigenous leader from Lanny Jaya, according to the Indonesian human rights group Tapol.

International condemnation has been mounting with many West Papuan human rights groups and media freedom advocates calling for their immediate release.

Not content with throwing the book of repression against all three detainees, Indonesian intelligence agents have been snooping around and harassing anybody who has been in contact with them, report New Zealand-based Pacific Media Watch’s Anna Majavu and Australian-based West Papua Media’s editor Nick Chesterfield.

In a report posted today on the Tapol website, it declared:

Indonesia continues to impose severe restrictions on access to Papua for foreign journalists and human rights workers. While most foreign journalists apprehended in Papua are swiftly deported to their home countries, in this case the pair have been charged with immigration offences and accused of trying to destablise Papua.
Papuan civil society has been quick to show their support and have demonstrated calling for the release of the journalists. The Jayapura branch of the Alliance for Independent Journalists in Indonesia has appealed for the pair to be released and deported rather than subjected to legal process.
A plethora of international rights organisations have condemned the arrests and issued statements calling for their release. On August 11, Reporters without Borders issued a statement confirming that the French couple were indeed journalists who had been reporting on Papua.

On August 25, the International Federation of Journalists called for the release of the two journalists, and on August 30, Amnesty International condemned the arrests and called for the journalists and Mr Wanimbo to be released. Several international NGOs have issued urgent appeals calling for the immediate release of the three detainees.
As the three detainees spend their 32nd night in jail tonight, human rights groups are united in their hope that upon his inauguration in October, President-elect Jokowi will act swiftly in honouring his promise to open up Papua to international journalists, observers, human rights and humanitarian workers.

Tapol has also posted an extensive outline of the case on its website as part of an appeal in support of the detained three. It also notes:

A conflict area where human rights violations are rampant, Papua has been strictly isolated by the Indonesian government from international journalists and bodies. A special permit from the government is required for international journalists and institutions to legally visit the area. No such permit is needed to visit other parts of Indonesia.

(West Papua Media editorial note:  As West Papua Media is accused by the Indonesian police of being a participant in this case, and its editor has also been threatened by Indonesian police with illegal extradition (rendition) for arrest under subversion and espionage charges; for ethical and security reasons, all reportage on this case is being done via our partners at the Pacific Media Centre and syndicated here.  We thank our partners for their continued support during this difficult time.)