Category Archives: Briefing by Papuan Civil Society members

Coalition calls on Bupati to revoke PT Nabire Baru’s permit

Report by our partners AwasMifee

February 13, 2015

A group of organisations using the name “Coalition caring for oil palm victims in Nabire” is urging the Bupati of Nabire to revoke PT Nabire Baru’s oil palm plantation permit. This would follow a precedent set by the Bupati of Mimika last December, who revoked PT Pusaka Agro Lestari’s permit. Like PT Nabire Baru, that company had already been operating for a few years, and had cleared thousands of hectares of forest.

PT Nabire Baru is possibly the most controversial plantation in Papua. There are many aspects which are seen as problematic, from the way the company dealt with customary land rights to the lack of an environmental impact assessment before land clearing started. The plantation has divided the community and there have been a string of violent incidents at the hands of Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) guards employed to guard the company’s operation.

The organisations involved in the coalition are: Dewan Adat Meepago, Dewan Lingkunagan Masyarakat Adat Papua, PUSAKA, Greenpeace, FIM. Here are their demands:

In line with law 21 of 2001 concerning the recognition and protection of the rights of customary communities and Law No 39 of 1999 concerning human rights, and in order to avoid misunderstandings between the Yerisiam people and the Nabire Consultative Leadership Board (Muspida), together with indigenous communites we recommend that:

  1. The Governor of Papua province should revoke PT Nabire Baru’s plantation permit (IUP) and arrange a meeting between PT Nabire Baru and the Yerisiam indienous community. If PT Nabire Baru doesn’t want to meet these demands then its plantation permit should be revoked.
  2. In the spirit of Papuan special autonomy, PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri must start negotiations with customary landowners, in this case from the Yerisiam and Mee ethnic groups, to talk about a MoU with the Yerisiam people and compensation for the wood that has already been extracted
  3. It must be stated that the transfer of land from Yunus Monei to Imam Basrowi which took place on on 15th October 2008 was invalid because it violated the rights of customary communities, as in customary law it is impossible for one person to own land covering thousands of hectares.
    Source: Pusaka

Papuan News website Majalah Selangkah, which is based in Nabire, also filed the following story:

To protect the people, Nabire’s Bupati urged to shut down oil palm company PT Nabire Baru

There are indications that an oil Palm company, PT Nabire Baru, which has taken over the Yerisiam people’s lands, has violated the terms of Law 21 of 2001 concerning recognition and protection of the rights of customary communities as also laid down in Law No 39 of 1999 concerning human rights. This is believed to have caused new conflicts between the indigenous communities, the company and the Nabire Regency government.

The issue has attracted a response from a member of Commission 1 of the Papuan Provincial Legislative Council, Laurenzus Kadepa. Kadepa supports the closure of PT Nabire Baru.

He said that the Bupati of Nabire needed to learn from the Bupati of Mimika who recently shut down the PT Pusaka Agro Lestari company which was operating in his administration’s territory. According to Kadepa, that action was taken by a brave leader who valued human rights and the survival of local communities, including future generations.

Kadepa appealed for the Bupati of Nabire to look at Merauke and Keerom regencies, where after local governments accepted oil palm companies, negative impacts for local communies followed. There, Kadepa continued, a glaring divide had emerged between different segments of society.

“Dont let that haappen in Nabire,” was Kadepa’s clear reminder

“I fear that problems like that in Degeuwo Bayabiru in Kabupaten Paniai will also happen in Nabire Regency , to the Yerisiam people. They are taking wood as it suits them, and recklessly grabbing ancestral land”. Kadepa made clear [translator’s note: Degeuwo is an informal gold-mining area where migrants mostly from Sulawesi have been accompanied by violence and social problems into a previously inaccessible forest area].

According to him, the companies have been creating a “living hell” for the indigenous people on their own ancestral lands.

“Giving permits to corporations to clear land is ‘hell’. It will only bring new conflicts to the local indigenous people”, Kadepa said.

It is hoped that the government will make the people’s interests their priority, acting out of humanity and thinking about indigenous people’s livelihoods into the future. “Don’t look at the company’s money, look towards the people. Don’t just prioritize private and corporate interests, because the impacts will be terrible, especially in Nabire which is the main route into several regencies in the central mountains”, Kadepa made clear.
Source: Majalah Selangkah

Landowner clan shows PT Agriprima Cipta Persada in Muting the limit for land clearing

In Muting, near Merauke, oil palm company PT Agriprima Cipta Persada (ACP) is expanding its plantation area by clearing forest on which local indigenous people hold customary ownership rights.

https://awasmifee.potager.org/uploads/2014/06/patok-adat-d-muting-427x450.jpg
The Ndiken Malindan clan has planted traditional customary land marking poles to delineate the limits that agribusiness can work on their land.

Previously in 2013, PT ACP had already cut down the forest and cleared around 2000 hectares of land, allocated to the local transmigrant population but some distance from their village, to plant oil palm.

The forestry ministry still has not accepted PT ACP’s request to release land (currently classified as production forest that can be converted) from the state forest estate. Even without the permits, the company has continued to clear the forest around the Alfasera 4 transmigration area, and the area cleared continues to increase.

At the border of the forest belonging to Alfasera 3, the head of the Ndiken Malindan clan, Pius Ndiken, has planted poles which are a traditional symbol to forbid the company to undertake activities in the forest for which his clan holds the customary rights. The pole is wooden, and is tied with coconut leaves, with red paint around the tip, driven into the ground around the forest’s edge.

“We are making this customary blockade because the company is not keeping to its promises to resource the local population”, said Pius Ndiken. Pius had previously been recruited as one of ACP’s security guards, but was forced to leave his job because there was no indication that the company was going to fulfil the promises it had made, for example to build housing, help to pay for education and because the company was not paying a reasonable wage.

According to Paulus Ndiken, former village head in Muting, the reason the people are blocking the company is because they know that the land which has been ceded to the company [by other clans] is actually part of the territory of two transmigration settlements, and not ‘adat forest’ [where the indigenous people are the undisputed owners].

Pusaka

Problems faced by Sinar Mas plantation workers in Lereh, Jayapura

translated by our partners at awasMifee from a SKP Jayapura report

SKPKC Jayapura staff organised a meeting in the Juk-Lereh church which was attended by around 20 employees of PT Sinar Mas. The meeting was a response to the Taja parish priest Hendik Nahak’s request to address problems facing workers at Sinar Mas’s oil palm plantation.

Father Hendrik explained that there are quite a few problems that occur in the oil palm plantation, but they are covered up by the company. The problems relate to, for example, workers’ rights, recruitment, clean water and habitable accommodation. Father Hendrik’s explanation was confirmed by the workers present in the meeting. They made clear that these problems had been ongoing for some time and were frequently ignored by the company.

Problems that often arise include recruiting company workers by using supervisors who find the workers, making all sorts of enticing promises. People who want to work for the company are asked to sign agreements to accept all company decisions concerning their wages and other working conditions.

There are also problems concerning housing and clean water. The company brings new workers to the site without taking their accommodation needs into consideration, meaning that 3x3m2 houses are being inhabited by two or even three families. People have to rely on rainwater for their everyday clean water needs because the nearby river is polluted by fertilizer which is sprayed by aeroplane. Then when wages are paid, money is docked without explanation, meaning that quarrels sometimes break out between workers and supervisors.

Source: SKP Jayapura

50 Years of the Violation of Basic Human Rights in West Papua: Part one and two

Statement by Yan Christian Warinussy, Executive Director of LP3BH, made in preparation for discussions that were due to take place at the beginning of 2014.]
March 10, 2014

As an organisation which advocates basic human rights in the Land of Papua, the LP3BH – Manokwari wishes to record to all those who have remained silent about the conditions now prevailing in the Land of Papua, the experiences of the indigenous Papuan people who have ceaselessly tried to ensure that no-one will forget what has been happening  in this territory since 1 May 1963 and what continues to happen systematically up to the present day

      To begin with, it is essential to understand the history, in order to understand who it was who was responsible for the status  imposed on the Land of Papua on 1 May 1963. The indigenous Papua people have every right to enjoy all the rights that have been stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and  various international covenants regarding economic, social and political rights  as well as other international covenants all of which have been disregarded with regard to the situation in West Papua.
      At the time of Papua’s incorporation into the Republic of Indonesia, Ali Murtopo (a senior adviser to the then president of Indonesia) was quoted as saying: “What we want and need is the land in Papua, not the Papuans who live there.”
      In 1967, a Contract of Work was concluded by Indonesia regarding the exploitation of the copper and gold and possibly also uranium around the Grasberg Mountain around Tembagapura which was widely known to the Indonesian government as well as a US multinational corporation called Freeport McMoran.
    This makes it very clear why the USA played such an active role on the diplomatic front to ensure that West Papua would be incorporated as part of Indonesia, despite the glaring differences between the Papuan people with regard to their history, as well as their anthropology and ethnography and people living in other parts of Indonesia.
      It was abundantly evident that the USA was very interested in the natural resources in West Papua which explains why that country took such an interest in this matter.
“Gentlemen, I am angry with God. Why has God created such beautiful mountains, valleys and rivers, rich with minerals and placed us, the indigenous peoples, here in this place that attracts so many people from around the world to come, exploit our resources, and kill us?”
 [Translator’s Note: This prayer was said in 1994 by a man who lived on the Grasberg Mountain, who bemoaned the fact that the territory inhabited by Amungme people was so richly endowed with natural resources of huge interest to the USA.]
       That man whose name was Tuarek Narkime delivered words that are widely known to and understood* by the leaders and people of the Amungme tribe in drawing attention to the many violations of the rights of these people which were perpetrated in the area when the Freeport mine was being  established, during the course of which many Amungme people lost their lives as a result of actions by Freeport personnel as well as by members of the Indonesian army and police, although none of these people have ever been called account before a court of law for what they have done.
     These introductory remarks provide the basis for everyone anywhere in the world and all democrats around the world to take a new look at the past as well at the present regarding the acts of violence that continue to occur in the vicinity of the Freeport mine without anyone ever being called to account for what they have done.

Ever since 1963 and 1967, the LP3BH has recorded the fact that the Republic of Indonesia has consistently used violence against the West Papuan people, something that even started to happen before those years.

    On 15 August 1962, when the New York  Agreement was signed by Indonesia and The Netherlands under the supervision of the United States of America, the Papuan people were not involved’ They were not even consulted for their opinion. Yet, at that time there was a New Guinea Council  which consisted of representatives of  the Papuan people, the members of which were chosen by means of democratically held elections which took place on 5 April 1961 in Hollandia (now called Jayapura).
      [All the names of the members of the Council who were elected, of whom 22 were Papuans, are listed  as well as those who were appointed which included one Papuan and five Dutch people, including one Indo-Dutch person.]
    Besides that, there were two major religious organisations, – the GKI [Evangelical Christian Church] and the Catholic Church] which were spread across  the whole of the Land of Papua. Yet, these churches were never consulted as part of civil society in the territory at the time. This was despite the fact that the UN was involved  in the creation of UNTEA as well as The Netherlands and the USA.
     What we mean by being consulted is all about the framework and  the possible problems that might arise among the indigenous Papuan people who were regarded as being too primitive  to take part in an election held according to the principle of ‘one person, one vote’. Were the towns and villages in West Papua too complex for the New Guinea Council or the two churches to choose their leaders? Such advice would have been very useful and important in deciding on on how to conduct the elections in accordance with the traditions  and customary laws that were vibrant among the Papuan people. who were supposed to have been consulted by means of the Act of Free Choice which was to have been held by 1969 in the Land of Papua.
     There was never any request for advice or opinion from the Papuan people. Still worse, what actually happened was that Papuans were arrested and even  cruelly tortured for allegedly being involved in an ‘underground movement’, with the intention of overthrowing the Indonesian Government. This is what happened to Baldus Mofu as a result of which he was mentally damaged at the hands of the military police and members of the Indonesian Air Force in Manokwari. Another Papua, Nicholas Tanggahma is believed to have died  after ingesting food that had been poisoned when he was staying at the Arfak Hotel in Manokwari in 1969.
     Several other members of the Council such as Marcus Kaisiepo and Nicholas Jouwe were arrested and taken to Europe prior to the Act of Free Choice. Others were treated in the same way, including E.J Bonay, F.K.T. Poana, A.S. Onim and Thontjee Meset.
     All these acts of violence were perpetrated by members of the Indonesian security forces, the TNI and Polri. and further intensified as the Act of Free Choice drew near in August 1969.
     The LP3BH is well aware of the fact that many activists in Biak, Sorong, Manokwari, Jayapura, Wamena, Nabire  as well as in Merauke were arbitrarily arrested by the TNI and Polri some of whom were summarily killed. An example of what happened occurred on 28 July 1969 in Manokwari when 53 Papuans were summarily executed at the headquarters of the Infantry Battalion in Arfak-Manokwari.
     Such human rights violations have systematically occurred ever since that time, following the enactment of Law 12/1999. This was clarified in the General Remarks contained in paragraph 1, section 6 which state: ‘The Act of Free Choice  in West Irian  was a manifestation of the aspirations of the Papuan people and resulted in the people of Papua and  West Papua  expressing their wish to be united with the people of other regions of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, affirming  that West Papua is part of the Unitary Republic of Indonesia.’
      The afore-mentioned statement became the legal basis for the Indonesian Government to enforce paragraphs 109 and 110 in law.  This codification was part of the law under the Dutch Constitution [Wetboek van Strafrecht]  whenever the government takes firm action against the Papuan people when they challenge  ‘Papua’s political integration’.
     As a result of all this, every time  that people in Papua or West Papua seek to challenge ‘political integration’  using their right to freedom of expression as guaranteed in Law 39/1999
on Basic Human Rights as well as universal human rights, they are accused of the crime of treason under the Indonesian Constitution.
      Such incidences occurred in Biak on 6 July 1999 when a group of Papuans unfurled the Morning Star Flag under the leadership of Filep Karma which resulted in his being subjected to acts of brutality by the TNI and Polri and which moreover resulted in dozens, even hundreds, of Papuans falling as victims, some of whom even lost their lives. All this resulted in Filep Karma and his colleagues facing the charge of treason.
(End of part on and  two of the translation.)
Translated by Carmel Budiardjo, founder of Tapol

Manokwari Tastes the Bitterness of Oil Palm

By Pietsau Amafnini at Jasoil
First Published: March 2, 2014

Little by little, people start to taste the bitterness of oil palm.

It came as a big shock to both the indigenous people and residents of the transmigration settlements in SP8 to SP10 Masni and Sidey, Manokwari regency. Heavy rain all night long eventually meant that by the morning of 16th February 2014 the calm atmosphere of the night before had been turned to panic. Nikson Kasi, a volunteer for Jasoil Tanah Papua, reported that in his village Mansaburi, floodwaters were assailing the village. The Wariori River, which passes through PT Medco Papua Hijau Selaras’s oil palm plantation, had burst its banks with the volume of water from the mountains upstream.

At least 139 houses in Mansaburi village, Masni District, Manokwari, West Papua Province were swept away by the floods. There were no fatalities, but damage to property is estimated at billions of Rupiah. Even sadder is the news that people’s crops and livestock were also washed away by the floods as they charged through the oil palm plantation.

According to Nikson’s account, the floodwaters rose at about 04.30 AM. The river’s levees were breached and a flash flood struck houses that lay behind them. The Mansaburi village head, Robert Gasang confirmed that 139 houses had been destroyed by the current. The 700-or-so residents were forced to evacuate to escape the rising waters of the Wariori river, as heavy rain continued for the next two days, even though the level of flooding receded.

“We’re just worried, what it next time the rain continues for two or three days? Well now we’ve tasted the bitterness of oil palm after this flood”, said Demmy Safe, an activist with Jasoil Tanah Papua whose home is also close to the site of the flooding. Nikson continued, “even though there were no fatalities, the flood has wiped out people’s gardens, including rice, chilli, beans, tomatoes and other plants. Farm animals were also swept away by the floods”

Local residents, who came as part of transmigration programs or on their own initiative, say that previously, when the only plantation was that of PTPN II Prafi, flooding wasn’t particularly often seen. Now flooding has become a constant threat to the people because forests have been cleared [by Medco] as far upstream as the mountains, and so people have started to be worried that the floods will keep coming back. Especially in the rainy season like now, we always have to be on our guard, because when the big disaster comes it will not give notice beforehand.

Translated by awasMifee

[translator’s note: this article claims that houses were swept away (hanyut) by the floods. I’ve kept that dramatic term in my translation, although would point out that other media accounts have said that houses were merely severely damaged. (rusak parah).]