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Papua-Wide meeting calls for 10 year Moratorium on Plantation and Forestry Industries

From our partners at AwasMifee

Between 4th-7th November 2014, representatives of indigenous communities, environmentalists and human rights defenders from every corner of West Papua met in Jayapura to discuss problems linked to the forestry and large-scale plantation industries, which in recent years have been expanding rapidly throughout the island.

This was an important meeting, as the difficulties and expense of travel around Papua means that communities are frequently isolated to face the companies alone, even though the problems they face are remarkably similar.

With many more plantation companies set to start operations within the next few years, and timber companies still keen to harvest high-value logs, it is also vital to share the (often bitter) experiences of communities which have already seen how these industries operate, and also to formulate some common platform of demands with which to confront government and policy makers.

Participants at the event heard about the long-term injustices connected with plantations in Jayapura, Keerom and Boven Digoel, where land was taken with military backing during the Suharto dictatorship causing problems which are still not resolved. In Papua’s deep south, participants told of how they have been marginalised by plantations connected to the MIFEE agribusiness development. Others from Sorong, Nabire and Mimika, told of how they were unprepared for the problems which started unfolding as the companies moved in. Delegates from Bintuni and Wondama Bays explained how the effects of the timber industry on communities are no less destructive.

In many of these cases, the same problems could be seen to emerge time and time again: intimidation from military and police officers supporting the companies, loss of livelihood as the forest is destroyed, companies’ broken promises to bring development to communities, environmental problems such as pollution, flooding and loss of water sources. Taking all this into account, the participants agreed to call on all agencies involved in allowing these industries to address these problems.

Top of the list was a call for a 10 year moratorium into for large-scale plantation and forestry investment, during which time part violations should be resolved, and the challenge of finding a way that these industries could exist on indigenous land without disadvantaging indigenous people. Hopefully we will translate some of the testimony on this site soon, in the meantime here is the full list of recommendations:

Organisations involved in organising the event were: Yaysan Pusaka, Greenpeace Papua, SKP Jayapura, Jerat Papua, Foker LSM Papua and Jasoil Papua. A copy of this declaration in Indonesian together with a list of participants can be found at: http://pusaka.or.id/demo/assets/REKOMENDASI-TEMU-RAKYAT-ADAT-KORBAN-PAPUA-Nov-2014.pdf

RECOMMENDATIONS

Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries.

Dialogue on Building a Green Economy and Sustainable Development

Today, Friday the seventh of November two thousand and fourteen, in the Maranatha Convent, Waena, Jayapura,

After hearing and discussing Reports of Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries from throughout the land of Papua, and also discussing various developments in development policy, we as representatives of indigenous communities from twelve Regencies or cities throughout the land of Papua, want to hereby make clear that the state has violated and ignored our human rights, by not protecting, respecting and advancing the rights of indigenous communities throughout the land of Papua, including: acts of discrimination, repression and expropriation of what rightfully belongs to indigenous people throughout Papua. These human rights violations, which have occurred between 1982 and 2014, have caused great loss for indigenous people, as their social and cultural fabric and their natural environment disappear. Because of this, we as representatives of indigenous people who have suffered because of the forestry and large-scale plantation industries, coming from twelve regencies and cities, hereby state the following:

1. To the President of the Republic of Indonesia, to issue a ten-year moratorium on forestry and large-scale plantation development throughout the land of Papua. During the moratorium period, the government would resolve the different problems and violations of indigenous communities’ rights that have already occurred, and amend policies and legislation currently in force in the land of Papua.

2. To the Governors of Papua and West Papua Provinces, to reconsider all policies concerning the granting of permits for the forestry and large-scale plantation industries which disadvantage indigenous people across the land of Papua.

3 To the Commander of Military District XVII Cenderawasih Command and the Papuan Police Chief, to discipline and take action against any members of the military and police forces who openly participate in pressurising and intimidating indigenous people that wish to defend their rights throughout the land of Papua. Also to take action against members of the forces who are either directly engaged in illegal business involving forest products, or back-up and protect others in such businessses.

4. To Bupatis and city mayors throughout the land of Papua, to end the practice of unconditionally giving out permits and recommendations in the forestry and large-scale plantation sector.

5 To the honourable members of the Papuan and West Papua People’s Assemblies (MRP), to hold a Special Dialogue with the Energy and Mineral Resources Ministry, and the Environment and Forestry Ministry, concerning making changes in policy and regulations related to forestry and large-scale plantation investment in the land of Papua, both ongoing and in the future, which would be based on indigenous peoples’ rights and the spirit of Papuan Special Autonomy.

6 To the Provincial Legislative Councils in Papua and West Papua, to form a Special Committee to conduct investigations into the violations of indigenous communities’ human rights in the land of Papua, which are a result of policies and investment activities in the forestry and large-scale plantation sector.

7 To Customary Tribal Councils throughout the land of Papua, to organise reconciliation and customary assemblies in each area to map the customary lands of each tribe/ethnic group and follow up the findings of this Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries.

8 http://pusaka.or.id/demo/assets/REKOMENDASI-TEMU-RAKYAT-ADAT-KORBAN-PAPUA-Nov-2014.pdf, to take an active role in reporting violations in human rights and environmental problems so they can be brought to the attention of wider society and institutions that are actively attempting to protect, respect and advance human rights at the Papuan, national and international levels.

9. Participants of the Meeting of Community Victims of the Forestry and Large-scale Plantation Industries – Dialogue on Building a Green Economy and Sustainable Development hereby declare the foundation of the Indigenous People’s Environmental Council in the Land of Papua (Dewan Lingkungan Masyarakat Adat di Tanah Papua).

These are the recommendations which have been made and agreed together, and we hope they will be heeded and implemented. May our ancestors and the Creator be with us all.

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/

Evidence of death squads emerge after Youtefa market riot sparked by corrupt police shakedown of gamblers

In-depth Investigation from West Papua Media team, our stringers in Jayapura and local sources

July 15, 2014

  • Riot erupted after corrupt Police attempt shakedown of gambling den
  • Weapons seized from police by gangsters, who have mysteriously “disappeared”
  • Three dead civilians had nothing to do with gambling: witnesses
  • Three dead civilians allegedly targeted by security forces because of Yali tribal membership.
  • Another story of savagery from Indonesian security forces

Evidence has emerged of a savage and potentially premeditated hunt of highland students by Indonesian security forces in Abepura on July 2 after the stabbing death of a police officer sparked an allegedly brutal dispersal of civilians by security forces. Three civilians and an Indonesian police officer were killed around the Youtefa market in Abepura after a failed attempt at a shakedown by corrupt police on a gambling ring degenerated into a riot.

Full transparency of the events leading to the riot and behaviour by police in bringing it under control has been hard to verify, however eyewitness testimony gathered by West Papua Media (WPM) stringers have yielded new information that alleges death squads were operating simultaneously to the riot, targeting three students from a single tribal group who were uninvolved with the riot.

Over twenty innocent people were also taken into custody on July 2, after hundreds of uniformed and plainclothes security forces arrested civilians and beat bystanders, Papuan shoppers and particularly civilians from the Highlands, with many sustaining injuries, after unidentified persons in the crowd of gamblers earlier attacked and fatally stabbed the Indonesian police officer, and beat up his partner.

Eyewitness evidence has also confirmed that three young Yali men, Demi Kepno, Sabusek Kabak, and Yenias Wandikbo were beaten and killed well away from the riot and dispersal, by plain clothes police and Kopassus special forces soldiers. This is despite clear evidence that none of the victims were involved in either the gambling, or the subsequent riot.

The violence had its immediate roots in a daily illegal game of dice (Judi Dadu) played in an Indonesian gangster (preman) run gambling den at Pasar Youtefa, by a mixed crowd of over 100 Papuan and Indonesian colonist gamblers.  According to witnesses interviewed by a West Papua Media stringer, the dice gambling rings are part of an informal industry that served to provide daily living income for its organisers, but was usually tolerated by local police in return for a cut of proceedings to supplement their police salary.

Indonesian military and police have a long history of running highly lucrative illegal gambling operations on everything from raffles to chicken, dog and human fighting, to premiere movie tickets. Gamblers and street thugs lured to the easy money are often recruited as the muscle behind preman organisation Pemuda Pancasila, a Kopassus proxy militia front that had thrown its weight behind the Prabowo Presidential Election campaign,  casting a dark shadow of fear over Papua over recent weeks.

Just after 3.30pm local time on July 2, Police Brigadiers (equivalent to Chief Sergeant) Asriadi and Samsul Huda from Abepura’s Tanah Hitam motorcycle unit, were conducting their allegedly corrupt daily shakedown rounds to demand protection money (tax) from stallholders when they arrived at the Judi venue. It is still unknown why the officers decided to shakedown this particular venue given that preman and police usually have a sophisticated and lucrative system of payoffs.

Gamblers reported that the two police officers walked into the venue without paying admission, angering the Indonesian colonist doorman, whereupon the police drew weapons and demanded that all present (including Papuan and colonist spectators) pay a flat rate “tax” to the police.

Witnesses claimed that the two officers and a customer began arguing after some gamblers refuse to hand over any money, saying they were tired of being shaken down. One witness claimed that the “preman” (gangster) manager of the venue pushed the police officer, complaining that protection money had already been paid to a higher ranking officer, and the shakedown would be reported. The officer Asriadi then smacked another gambler, the relatives of whom retaliated by seizing his rifle and throwing chairs, bottles and other objects at the fleeing officers. None of these claims could be independently verified by WPM.

Unverified reports also claim that all the gamblers, both Papuan and Indonesian, then chased the officers through the markets.  An Indonesian colonist trader named Herman told the Jakarta Post that Brig Asriadi tripped, and “was mobbed and stabbed by the gamblers.”

Claims that the rioters had stoned the officers to death remain unverified and only alleged by Indonesian colonist traders. No Papuan witnesses could be found to confirm the claims independently of the official police version.

The commotion and cries for help from the bashed police were immediately responded to by over a hundred armed police, Brimob and members of the Australian trained counter-terror squad Detachment 88, according to witnesses who described how large groups of armed men came running from every direction within seconds of the initial chase. They in turn were joined by over 50 plain clothes intelligence, police and military, including scores of Kopassus ojek riders, in seizing and beating large groups of civilians randomly, including traders and shoppers.

Reports remain unconfirmed whether security forces opened fire directly on bystanders at the markets or fired into the air, but many gunshots were heard by various witnesses, causing Papuan civilians to flee from the area. Nine Papuan gamblers were taken into custody as suspects, however the perpetrators of the fatal beating and those who had seized weapons were allowed to escape by security forces. In addition, police and plain clothes agents arrested a further 14 Papuan bystanders, who were uninvolved in the affray. All apart from the nine were released by police late that night, most having sustained injuries from their beatings. The status of the nine Papuan gamblers who were undergoing interrogation through to the weekend were unable to be ascertained at time of writing.

The violence occurred as Papuans in Jayapura were on edge, as arbitrary arrests, shootings and unprovoked beatings on civilians by security forces intensified ahead of the July 9 Indonesian presidential election. Many Papuan civil society and pro-independence groups joined a boycott call challenging the legitimacy of Indonesia’s colonial regime. The boycott was met with calls from the Indonesian military commander in Papua, Maj-General Christian Zebua, to “shoot dead any person” distributing election boycott materials – a threat which had materialised throughout the Land of Papua.

Arbitrary murders

The deaths of the three young Papuan students, at a time when Indonesian police are almost exclusively targeting Yali student and civil resistance activists (who make up the bulk of the membership of the West Papua National Committee) in a nationwide crackdown on freedom of expression, will only reinforce perceptions of a premeditated Indonesian security force campaign to eradicate Papua of Yali people. “The TNI hate the Yali with a passion, as this is the tribe that Benny Wenda is from,” an observer told WPM during the investigation, referring to the high profile UK-based leader of the Free West Papua Campaign.

Certainly members of the families of the dead agree that their dead children and brothers are being unfairly targeted.

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Sabusek Kabak (24) was a university student from the Yali village of Porongkoli in Yahukimo Papua. He passed through the Youtefa market at 8.00am from the Kilometre 9 post at Koya and continued on to the GKI Church students Hostel Liborang in Padang Bulan.

According to interviews with his younger brother Wemen, friends and witnesses, at 3.30pm on July 2 Sabusek went again to Youtefa, planning to return to Kilo 9 with Wemen.  After arriving at the Youtefa market he and his younger sibling didn’t have enough money to pay for the taxi back to Koya and went to look for a friend to borrow some money for their transport home.

As they were looking for taxi money, the riot broke out at the market. Some ran and there was the sound of gunfire, but Sabusek and Wemen were confused. Sabusek and Wemen agreed to go together and seek protection  at the Bank of Papua at the Youtefa market, without realising that there were “preman” plainclothed police manning a roadblock outside the bank.

They were then confronted and surrounded by the preman who were armed with sharp knives, machetes, and pistols, when Sabusek pushed his young brother behind him and told him to escape.   A transmigrant trader hid Wemen in their kiosk, however the preman police caught up and stabbed Sabusek with a bayonet through the heart, killing him instantly. Wemen and the trader witnessed the killing, as the preman walked away and left Sabusek’s body there. A woman from Biak, unknown to Wemen, told the migrant who had helped Wemen escape, “That is my child. Come my dear child let’s go home”. She then took Wemen to the protection of a Church hostel.

Sabusek’s body was not picked up by Police until the morning of 3 July 2014 by Police, who took his body to the Bhayangkara Hospital. The Kabak family were initially prevented from retrieving Sabusek’s body, and were forced to return with the Abepura Police Chief and District Head so the family could take the body. He was buried on 4 July 2014 at the public cemetery in Tanah Hitam, Abepura at 3.00pm by his family.

The Kabak family have demanded that the Papuan Police be held accountable for Sabusek Kabak’s death, and that there be an immediate arrest of those responsible and they face the process of law in the immediate future.

Unprovoked Savagery

Neither was the second victim involved in any form of opposition action against the police, yet he was savagely beaten until dead. Before the riot at the Youtefa market started, Yenias Wandikbo, a 20 year old Yali student, had been drinking alcohol together and relaxing with a friend during that day at the Engros Beach, until they ran out of drink in the early afternoon. Yenias and his friend then headed home from Engros via to the Youtefa market. In going there they reached the front of the YAMAS campus still unaware that there was a problem at the market, where they separated because of the everyday threat posed by security forces when buying alcohol. Yenias stumbled upon the riot area and straight into an ambush of plainclothes Indonesian preman – believed to be Kopassus soldiers by witnesses due to the impunity in which they moved. These preman then caught, beat and killed Yenias, witnessed by many in broad daylight less than one hundred metres away from the Youtefa market.

Yenias was beaten about the head with such extreme force that his brow, nose area, and rear of his skull was split apart. After Yenias was killed, his body was taken by the police to the Bhayangkara Hospital, where it was held until 3.20pm on July 4. Yenias’ family took him home to Nayak Hostel in Abepura, in order to transport his body to be taken back to Wamena.

Extrajudicial Execution

Demi Kepno, a 24 year old Engineering Student of Yali origin from Abenah District, Yalimo, was killed after being abducted by police in Abepura, at the same instance as the gambling ring was being broken up in Youtefa market, but some distance away from the market.

As with the two other victims, When Demi Kepno, together with several friends heard about the incident at the old market, they avoided returning to their homes. Demi was called by his girlfriend  – who it emerged was working as an intelligence agent – who wanted to meet with him, and he went to meet her in front of the Multi Crosir supermarket. Demi’s girlfriend ordered him to get in a black Avanza vehicle, without any idea he was getting in a car with plainclothes security forces

Demi was brought to the Yanmor Police station in Tanah Hitam just above Abepura, where he was interrogated by fully armed anti-terror police.  He managed to escape from the Police station, fleeing in the direction of Tanah Hitam Mountain. The police and plainclothes agents gave chase and Demi entered a house of a Butonese migrant, which was surrounded and searched by police, cornering Demi around 5.15pm local time, according to witnesses interviewed by WPM’s stringer.  Demi allegedly picked up a beam of wood in self-defence as police opened fire on him, hitting him in the abdomen. However, the gunshots did not kill him, so the plainclothes agents were seen to repeatedly stab Demi in the chest and neck with a bayonet, until he was dead.

His body was taken to the Bhayangkara Hospital, and the victim’s family took the body away at 4.35pm the following day to the family home at Tanah Hitam, and was buried in Abepura at the public cemetery on 5 July 2014.

Indonesian police in Abepura and Jayapura refused several attempts by WPM to provide a response to these allegations.

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Investigative Report into Oil Palm in Nabire Regency, Papua

By Father Santon Tekege, regular West Papua Media contributor, with AwasMifee
originally published June 25, 2014
Based on a Field Visit 13th March 2014
General Description of PT Nabire Baru in Nabire
Several companies’ plans to invest in the oil palm sector in Nabire have met with local opposition. People from the Yerisiam and Wate ethnic groups have staged several peaceful actions in Nabire against one of these companies, PT Nabire Baru(1). The chief of the Yerisiam ethnic group, Fr S.P. Hanebora has said that they have kept asking for support for their opposition but so far no organisation has stepped forward to support them.

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“Because of this, we are asking NGOs and Churches to work together with us to oppose this company. The indigenous people’s opposition has been very clear, but the company has continued to work: cutting down the forest, clearing the land, preparing 2 million oil palm saplings to be planted on an area of 32,000 hectares in Kampung Wami and 8000 hectares in Kampung Sima, in Yaur (Yaro) district, Nabire Regency.

Currently, the Papuan Natural Resource Management and Environment Agency (BAPESDALH) has refused to give PT Nabire Baru a permit to continue developing oil palm plantations around Kampung Sima and Wami, Yaur District. That means that there are currently 1,800 employees who have been abandoned with no wages or anything to live off. The Papuan BAPESDALH has written at least twice to PT Nabire Baru. In its second letter dated October 2012, as in the previous letter, the oil palm company was requested to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL) immediately. Until that occurs, the company may not proceed with its operations3.

We were able to produce this general overview based on reports we received in Wami and Sima. I also visited the company’s premises themselves. I approached several people to discuss the situation and also entered the company’s work area, even though it was tightly guarded by police officers from the Nabire Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) who were stationed both at the access road and around the company’s premises. In the interviews, local people and company employees related their respective struggles with the company.

Some effects of PT Nabire Baru’s operations include converting the forest vegetation into oil palm, a deterioration in the quality of surface water, air quality and noise. Locally temperatures have increased, changing the microclimate, environmental health, an increase in population as the workforce increased, and disruption to local security. According to these informants, these negative impacts are only recently being widely realised, and they intend to re-analyse the situation by taking the data to the community to observe the actual current situation.

In the meeting several indigenous leaders from the Yerisiam people, and also human rights activist Gunawan Inggeruhi, said that people in Wami and Sima were always divided according to whether they were pro- or contra- the company. We always hear opinions that are coloured by verbal arguments and push and shove between people. Some people openly oppose the oil palm industry “They have been working for two years. What’s more, our forest was destroyed before an environmental impact assessment (AMDAL) was completed. Why are they only carrying out the AMDAL two years later? Why so long?” one resident asked.

Other residents are more inclined to submit to the company’s plans – since the forest has already gone, oil palm can now be accepted. Human rights activist and Yerisiam intellectual Gunawan Inggeruhi believes that since PT Nabire Baru first arrived, they have been seen to ignore the indigenous people’s [land] rights. “Don’t start all these programs when it is not the time to do so, while the issue of people’s land rights has also still not been resolved.” Complete payments for ancestral land have still yet to be made in both Wami and Sima. Local people are complaining about the company’s actions: “The company is also bringing people from outside Papua to work there. Meanwhile, the company is not paying adequate attention to us as the local indigenous landowners, as was stipulated in the original agreement to develop education and healthcare.” “Now we have a school building but no teachers. A healthcare building exists, but there are no staff to run it. That is how PT Nabire Baru has deceived us.”

Several points came out of their reports, as follows:

A. The location of PT. Nabire Baru’s operations in Nabire Regency, Papua: PT. Nabire Baru’s operations are located in Wami and Yaro districts in Nabire Regency, and also in Sima district. The amount of forest which will be used is 32,000 hectares, on which they intend to plant four million palm trees. Two million saplings are already ready to be planted out and workers are placing two million more into pots. Another 8000 hectares will be planted with palm trees in Sima District. When the company arrived, it built a school building, but as of 2014 there were no teachers.

According to the Yerisiam people’s traditional leader, the Sima area is sacred land. However it is now being converted to an oil palm plantation: “We feel that our relationship with our nature and forest has been destroyed by this company. Sago trees, our forest like the mother which gave us life, forest birds, all are no longer to be seen, and we also feel the loss of plants that were good to eat and that ensured a cool environment. “

B. Number of workers: 1800 people were employed in December 2012. However, by 2014 this number had increased to 1900 according to company managers. There are more non-Papuans amongst the workforce than ethnic Papuans. Some of the non-local workers are not long-term inhabitants of the area, but were brought there from outside Papua by the company’s owner. Those who are fully involved in the company tend to be the non-Papuans. Indigenous Papuans, on the other hand, are distinctly less active in their work for the company. A situation like this means that the Nabire local government’s desire to provide economic security for the people has been proved a failure. The author of this study believes that the company and government are deliberately marginalising indigenous landowners in Wami and Sima.

C. Employees’ Situation: Employee’s pay situation: Daily pay for a worker is 63400 Rupiah. They receive their monthly wages in two fortnightly instalments. If in those two weeks, the employee is absent from work, their wage is reduced in line with the number of days they were absent. When the field supervisor (Ard. Yafet Magai) was asked about this, he said that local people were frequently absent from work, meaning that the company would always reduce their wages. Because of that, the wages received by non-Papuans were always much higher than those of the Papuans, who often missed work. That is the situation regarding wages between Papuans and non-Papuans. However, no employee wages have been paid since January 2013. Workers have not been working since January 20134

Worker’s health condition: According to the head of the local clinic and othe medical staff in Wanggar, two main ailments are affecting workers, as follows:

1. Malaria, workers are suffering from the tertiane and tropicana strains. Patients are sickening because of insufficient rest and an irregular eating pattern. This group of patients can be helped by medical staff as fast as possible, usually recovering after a week or two.

2. Pulmonary infections (violent coughing which produces phlegm). This group of patients takes some time to get better, even though their body maintains its strength.

D. The company becomes a threat for the people of Nabire: Nabire Regency comprises 81 villages and 14 sub-districts. The principle commodities according to data from the Papuan branch of the National Statistics Agency in the farming and related services sector are cocoa, coffee, cloves, and cashew nuts, and there is also some corn and cassava. This data reveals an aspect of why local conditions in Nabire are not appropriate for oil palm plantations.

According to Benyamin Karet, the second assistant to the Nabire Regional Secretary in December 2012: the land for oil palm which is being disputed, is actually in the former forestry concession of PT Jati Dharma Indah (JDI). JDI are still claiming that this land belongs to them until their forest management permit (HPH) expires in 2017. If the two companies both try to claim the land, it is certain that in the end it is the local community that will feel the effect. Such a situation also means that the local government must have engineered the process to get permits for PT Nabire Baru

From the perspective of environmental impacts: International NGOs such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth have campaigned a lot around how oil palm plantations always produce land conflicts which result in the loss of life. This is connected with irregularities in the permit process which are based on corruption. Examples of cases are in Mesuji, Lampung province in Sumatra, or in Papua in Keerom, Merauke and Lereh near Sentani.

From the economic perspective: Oil palm plantations in Wami and Yaro are not certain to bring economic security to local people, because company owners tend to employ workers from other areas, meaning that the desire to create economic security for the local community is sometimes only an empty promise. It is plain to see how transmigrants in the land of Papua are able to supply the cities’ needs, especially for fruit and vegetables, but also for other requirements. Many of them are even being recruited as workers on oil palm plantations. Meanwhile indigenous Papuans’ levels of adaptation and economic security are stagnating as they are further marginalised. Government plans for assimilation and technology transfer do not take place smoothly and according to plan.

1. Community Landowners’ opposition in 2007

Wanggar Pantai tribal leader Alex Raiky and other indigenous leaders in Wanggar Pantai, who are also supported by other indigenous people in Yaro district, have made clear that a letter about planting oil palm on the ancestral land of the people of Wate, dated 16th April 2007 and addressed to the leadership of PT Jati Dharma Indah, was an endorsement. However it should not be regarded as a guarantee of cooperation between the Wate ethnic group and PT Harvest Raya. That statement was conveyed to the Nabire Regency head via the head of the Forestry and Plantation service, Ir Marlan Pinem, in a meeting between the Wate people and PT Jati Dharma Indah in the meeting room of the Forestry and Plantation Service on Monday (17/9/2007), and the indigenous people were supported by the head of Yaro District Stefen Elbe.

Jumali, PT. Jati Dharma Indah’s division head, said in that meeting that the company that was planning to develop oil palm in the area at that time [PT Harvest Raya] was a joint venture between JDI and a Korean investor. The investment capital would come from the foreign investor and JDI’s involvement was due to the forest management permit they held. This permit would expire in 2017. Because of this, Jumali explained, if indigenous landowners were to reject that investor, the company would not make further plans and would withdraw from Nabire. A similar sentiment was conveyed by the head of the Nabire Forestry and Plantation Service, Marlan Pinem, who said that if the indigenous community rejected an investor in Nabire Regency, that company would not be able to start a business in the area. Pinem gave an example from his own experience, that previously PT Gudang Garam had wanted to invest in the Nifasi Area, and had even already brought heavy machinery to the area, but in the end had left because the indigenous community had opposed the company.

The statement from the Wate indigenous people, which was signed by indigenous community leaders from Wanggar Pantai Nicanor Money (indigenous head of Wanggar Pantai), Adrianus Money (head of Neighbourhood Unit (RT) 2), Yosius Way (head of Neighbourhood Unit 1) and Safter Money (Wanggar Pantai village head), who all stated that they all opposed any kind of cooperation with JDI, the company with the forestry permit. The reason was that as long as JDI had been working on their land the company had never given them any kind of contribution that would guarantee the neighbouring indigenous community’s continued livelihood and economic security. In the three-way meeting the indigenous people made clear that this rejection did not only come from the Wate ethnic group in Yaro, but also indigenous groups in Sima and living in the SP B transmigration zone in Wanggar. The head of the forestry service Marlan Pinem promised that their rejection would be dealt with in a way which reflected the community’s aspirations. He could say that because the right to make decisions lay with the forestry and plantation service at the Papuan Provincial level. Because of that attitude, PT JDI did not continue to work or develop the new company. Even though their forest management concession has yet to expire, PT JDI has not carried out any work in the Nabire area since 2010.

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2. Wate and Yerisiam Community opposition in 2012 and 2014 Opposition also came from the Papua Provincial Administration in the form of two letters from the BAPESDALH office to PT Nabire Baru. As in the first letter, in the second letter dated October 2012, the oil palm company was requested to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment immediately. Until this occurred, the company was forbidden from continuing work. However, direct field observations show that the company has already taken over the indigenous land, by clearing 32,000 hectares of land. The development of oil palm from 2012 to 2014 can be seen in the photos accompanying this report.

The plans of several companies to invest in the oil palm sector has been opposed by the people of Nabire. This includes PT Nabire Baru – the Yerisiam and Wate ethnic groups have staged several peaceful actions in Nabire to demonstrate their opposition. Even though the people expressed their opposition, the company continued work regardless: felling the forest, clearing the land and preparing two million oil palm saplings to be planted on 32,000 hectares around Kampung Wami, and another 8000 Hectares around Kampung Sima. Conculsion

I have written this investigative report based on the Yerisiam and Wate community’s complaints and opposition to oil palm companies in District Wami and Sima, in Nabire Regency. Workers expressed a range of complaints, as did those concerned about the environment, including the Church. The reason was that there are two companies which both claim the same area.

The two companies in question are PT Jati Dharma Indah (JDI) who’s forestry concession is only set to expire in 2017, and PT Nabire Baru which has already started work, resulting in 2 million oil palm seedlings ready to be planted out. The process finding a settlement for local indigenous landowners has also not been concluded. The indigenous People of Nabire strongly oppose the game that is being played between the two companies, the Nabire Regency government and the Papuan Provincial Government. For this reason, the indigenous community is worried, to the point of trauma, about the attitude and behaviour of the various vested interests which are driving this horizontal and vertical conflict.

With the situation as it is, it is essential that the various parties, including the two companies and the provincial and regional governments, sit down together with the indigenous people of Nabire Regency and discuss possible resolutions to the problem, before conflict breaks out in the city. That’s what I think!!!

Author: Pastoral staff of Timika Diocese, Papua

[awasmifee note: PT Nabire Baru is a subsidiary of Carson Cumberbatch, a Sri Lankan company, via its plantations business The Goodhope Company. Other linked subsidiary companies involved in Nabire are PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri and PT Sariwana Adi Perkasa]

Footnotes

1 Interview with Oktovianus Douw (Supervisor) and head of the company’s field leadership Yafet Magai in Kampung Yaro, and Human Rights Activist Gunawan Inggeruhi in Nabire City on 13th March 2014

2 Interview with Fr. S. P. Hanebora, 13th March 2014

3 Tabloid Jubi, 23 January 2013

4 See Jubi 23 January 2013: The Papuan Provincial Natural Resource and Environmental Management Agency (BAPESDALH) will not issue a permit to PT Nabire Baru (PT NB) to continue developing an oil palm plantation in Kampung Sima and Wami, Yaur District, Nabire Regency. The result will be as many as 1500 workers left without work.

One of PT NB’s workers Matias Iyai, said that the company had stopped working some time ago. “We are not working any more,” he said when met in Nabire on Wednesday (23/1).

Matias Iyai cited an explaination from the company leadership, that they were waiting for a decision from the Papuan Provincial Governor. This decision was conneted with the lack of environmental certification in the form of an Environmental Impact Assessment (AMDAL). “They say it’s an administratve matter. But I don’t know if that’s true or not. What is clear is that we keep demanding our rights , because our wages have not been paid” said Matias Iyai.

1500 workers are suffering right now because the company stopped working. They haven’t got what is owed to them, on top of which it is difficult to find new work. “Regarding our rights, we weren’t paid approriately for the hard work we did each day. Previously we were paid 65,000 Rupiah. Then that was cut back to 63,000 Rupiah,” he said.

Workers once held a demonstration at PT Nabire Baru’s offices to demand an explaination why daily pay was only paid out twice monthly. However, at that time the leadership did not give a constructive response. “All this time we’ve been working like slaves. The pay wasn’t all that much. Which means that many people have left, they don’t want to work for this oil palm company any more,” Iyai said.

The Papuan Provincial BAPESDAHL ( Papuan Natural Resource Management and Environment Agency) office has sent letters to PT Nabire Baru. In its second letter in October 2012 (as it had in the first), the company was asked to carry out an environmental assessment immediately. Until it did, the company must stop all work.

The people of Nabire have challenged the plans of several oil palm investors. That inclues PT Nabire Baru, which the Yerisiam and Wate ethnic groups have opposed by holding several peacceful actions in Nabire. The leader of the Yerisiam ethnic group, Fr. S.P.Hanebora has even had to fly to Jakarta to look for support from NGOs, the government and the House of Representatives.

Despite the community opposition, the company has continued its operations, clearing the forest and prepaaring 2 million oil palm saplings to plant in an area of 32,000 hectares in Kampung Wami and in Sima around 8000 hectares.