Tag Archives: illegal logging

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.

As President celebrates ‘Sail Raja Ampat’, one of his critics is abducted, killed and dumped at sea

(Apologies for the delay in Posting to the site (all news still is being delivered to journalists direct as it breaks). WPM has been under severe security threat from Indonesian agents in Papua and Australia, associated with the arrests of French journalists).

Reports from our network partners at AwasMifee

On 19th August, Martinus Yohame in his role as the chair of the Sorong Branch of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) held a press conference, explaining his organisation’s opposition to the Indonesian President’s visit to the area to open the Sail Raja Ampat event aimed at promoting tourism to Papua. He also raised the issue of illegal logging. The next day he disappeared.

As friends and colleagues spent the subsequent days searching for him, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono opened the sailing regatta, where he once again promised extra funds to develop infrastructure for infrastructure in Papua, and also inaugurated a statue of Jesus Christ on Marsinam Island near Manokwari.

Then on the 26th, a fisherman found the body of Martinus Yohame floating by the shore in at Nana Island, near Sorong. He had been shot in the chest, his face smashed up, and with another wound in his stomach. He had been placed in a sack, with his arms and legs tied. His abductors remain unknown.

This story has not yet received widespread coverage in the Papuan media, and at the time of writing the KNPB had yet to issue a statement on its website. Tabloidjubi however has picked up the story – here is a translation of one of their articles:

Deceased Sorong KNPB Chair believed to have been disappeared.

Jayapura, 26/8 (Jubi) – Martinus Yohame, Chair of the Greater Sorong area branch of the West Papua National Committee (KNPB) was found found dead floating near the shore of Nana Island, in the Doom Island area of Sorong. He is believed to have been disappeared.

A spokesperson for the Papua-wide KNPB, Basoka Logo made this clear to tabloidjubi.com. He said that previously on the evening of Wednesday 20th August, the KNPB had received information that Martinus Yohame had been abducted.

“But we can’t be sure yet who his captors were. Now today we have heard the news that he has been found dead. We cannot yet say which group is responsible for his diasppearance.  At the current time we are
still unsure,” Basoka Logo said via his mobile phone on Tuesday (26/8).

He explained that the late Martinus Yohame was responsible for the Bird’s Head peninsula area of West Papua. He could not give any further information at the time as he had not received a full report from his colleagues in Sorong.

“Just now we only received a short report about the death of the Sorong KNPB Chair – what I know is that he was found near the Kota Baru area, and his body is currently lying at the Sorong KNPB secretariat”, he said.

At present, according to Logo, colleagues in Sorong are still collecting data and statements about the death of the Chair of the KNPB in Sorong. “Only when this is done will we be able to give a full statement. The First Chair of the KNPB central organisation, Agus Kosay just arrived in Sorong by plane. It was him that officially reported to us that it was true the Chair of the KNPB in Sorong had been found,” he said.

The chair of the KNPB in the Bird’s Head region, including Greater Sorong, Martin Yohame, was tragically found dead some time before, his body was discovered by a fisherman on Tuesday morning (26/8) at around 7.00 am local time floating near Nana Island, not far from the Doom Island area. When found, Martinus’s body had been tied up tightly in a sack. Both his legs and arms had also been tied, presumably hoping his body would sink to the bottom of the ocean.

According to the Sorong City General Hospital’s examination, a gunshot wound was found on the left side of his chest. The victims face was also smashed up by being hit by a hard object, “We found a gunshot wound in his left chest. His face was destroyed,” said Yori, a worker at the hospital.
The Sorong police chief Adjunct Commissioner Harri Golden Hart confirmed that a body had been found. “We are still in the process of identification, and finding out whether it is true that he was killed,” Harri said.

After the autopsy, the victim’s family and KNPB members brought the victim’s body to be laid out in the house of mourning in Malanu village, in the Papua Christian University complex.

From data collected by tabloid jubi, the external examination conducted at the Sorong City General Hospital revealed a hole in the left chest 1x1cm, and another in the right side of the stomach of around 2x3cm. The man’s height was 179 cm and he had dreadlocks.

Before his body was found, the KNPB had issued a statement with some further details of the press conference and what happened afterwards, along with their guesses for possible abductors and their motives. This is an excerpt from that statement, as published on umaginews.com:

We believe that the Sorong KNPB chair was abducted by Kopassus [army special forces] or BIN [state intelligence agency] because on the 20th he received a phone call from someone and went outside. Now five days have passed but he hasn’t been found.

Previously on 19th August Martinus Yohame and other KNPB officials held a press conference at 15.00 Papuan time in front of the Sorong Mayor’s office, attended by several reporters from the Sorong area, in connection with the Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s visit to Papua and in particular to the Sorong area to open the Sail Raja Ampat event in Waisai, on Saturday 23rd August 2014.

Martinus Yohame, supported by the deputy chair of the KNPB, Kantius H, invited journalists from several print media organisations to use information from the press conference in their reports about the president’s visit KNPB used the opportunity to express their opposition to President SBY’s visit to the land of Papua.

At the same time they expressed their opposition to illegal logging, exploiting Papua’s natural riches and developing Raja Ampat as a Global Marine Tourism centre, all of which they judge to be stealing from and destroying Papua’s ecosystems and forests with no benefit for the people of Papua as a whole who own the land and resources.

This is why the KNPB and the PRD (People’s Regional Parliament) are clear in their opposition. We believe he was abducted by the security forces or the intelligence agency as part of their efforts to secure SBY’s visit, which the KNPB opposes.

Just two minutes after the press meeting finished at 3.15, a woman telephoned the KNPB Sorong chair. This woman claimed to be from the National Human Rights Commission in Jakarta, and she wanted to meet.  Several moments later, she came to meet the KNPB chair and his group outside the mayor’s office in a red Avanza. Inside was a man with a large Canon video camera, and they invited Martinus Yohame to accompany them to the Sorong Mega Mall, at the 9km post. The woman then took them to eat in a cafe next to the Megamall, and while they ate they held a meeting, although it is not known what they spoke about in this meeting.

Before the meeting broke up, he and the woman exchanged mobile phone numbers. The woman then said that “the next meeting will take place on Wednesday 20th August and we will get in touch”.

Afterwards they maintained communication via telephone and text message, with the last message on Wednesday 20th at 12.00 Papua time. That night they told Martinus to leave his house and it was on the street that they abducted him. He has not been found until now….

Source: Umagi News

The West Papua National Committee is an organisation that believes West Papua should have the right to self determination. It was formed in around 2009, but after it gained prominence with a series of large demonstrations demanding a referendum on independence there was a major crackdown, with many leaders around Papua jailed or killed, especially in 2012.  Since that wave of repression, the KNPB has found it difficult to organise, as local leaders are often detained a day or two days before a planned demonstration or significant event.

If elements of the Indonesian State were indeed responsible for Martinus Yohame’s disappearance, it is likely that he was targeted for his pro-independence stance. However, it is worth remembering that in the press conference before he disappeared Martinus Yohame also spoke of the problems of illegal logging and the tourism industry, and he is not the first KNPB leader have raised the issues of natural resource development that marginalises the Papuan people.  At the same time, indigenous people are threatened by state security forces of being treated as separatists when they state their opposition to development projects. The climate of intimidation in Papua is not limited to the independence movement alone, but impacts all areas in which Papuan people need to assert their needs and desires for a more just future.

As Martinus Yohame was being brutally beaten, or maybe he was already dead by that time, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was nearby on Raja Ampat celebrating the progress made in his development-focussed strategy for Papua, making statements such as “ lets keep going with the positive development that has already been achieved in Papua and West Papua”.  His audience of civil servants and tourism executives listened and watched as a flotilla of boats including 14 Indonesian navy ships as well as warships from the US, Australia and Singapore joined a sail past. Media hailed the event as a great success.

West Papua Media has highly credible but unconfirmed reports that Martinus Yohame was also targeted by Indonesian intelligence for potentially having contact with the two French Journalists still being detained in Abepura.  Many of our people are currently in danger because of this situation.

How Papua’s Green Areas are Increasingly being Destroyed

 

By Fr Santon Tekege

A portrait of oil palm companies in Wami & Sima Villages in Nabire)

Translation by AwasMifee

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Throughout the Land of Papua, forest is being destroyed ever faster to feed the interests and profits of companies and provincial and local governments. Papua’s forests are becoming a target for investors from around the world, who treat the forest as if it were there merely to satisfy their personal desires. So Papua’s forest is being replaced with oil palm. The Papuan forest with all its diverse flora and fauna becomes a tasty snack for feudal overlords and the Indonesian Government. The provincial and local governments, without telling the people who live there, allow all kinds of companies to start operations in the land of Papua. This is why it is vital that such companies cannot just move in, including oil palm companies such as the one which is planning a plantation in Nabire Regency.

The companies must be rejected so that indigenous Papuans’ relationship with their local environment is not obstructed or severed. This means it is important that the government and all other concerned parties, including the church, pay attention to the increasing rate of forest destruction in the Land of Papua.

Papuans and their Forest

Papuans, as gatherers and forest gardeners, make use of nature’s riches as their source of livelihood. Whether they live near the coast or in the mountains, they find food directly in nature, such as sago, sweet potatoes, fish, animals to hunt like deer, kangaroo, wild pig or cuscus, and different kinds of vegetables. This situation is slowly changing. however – as more and more forest is felled, so Papuans find it harder to find sago and animals to hunt.

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In general Papuans have a strong connection with their natural environment. Everything that can be found in the forest is seen as an integral part of human life. Forest is seen as the home of the ancestors. When the forest is destroyed, cracks appear in ths co-existance between the Papuan people and the forest/nature. Because of this, when people cut down the forest, it can be understood as an effort to weaken Papuan people’s relationship with the forest and natural environment. Papuans who live close to nature find themselves in a dilemma. Their forest has been cut down, and so the places they look for food, hunt or fetch clean water are all gone. Meanwhile they get no benefit from the oil palm plantations.

Investors currently think that the forests of Papua are going to be replaced with oil palm. Through their various forms of propaganda, the companies make wonderful promises to the communities which hold the customary land rights. that they will be given their own oil palm smallholdings. The companies say they will attend to community education and healthcare needs and even say they will guarantee increased economic security. Just like the oil palm company in Wami and Yaro villages in Nabire. However, in reality the indigenous people just suffer more and more. According to the National Central Statistics Bureau data from 2010 they are also the poorest. Indonesia’s two easternmost provinces (Papua 37.53% and West Papua 35.71%) have the highest levels of poverty nationwide, despite Papua’s abundant natural resources. The government needs to look and think whose fault this is? Or could it be that it is government policy which is to blame, and is disadvantaging the Papuan people?

Oil palm out of Papua

Policies are needed to manage and use natural resources in a balanced way, or one which is intended to benefit Papuan people. If this takes place then people’s economic security will also tend to increase. Forest doesn’t have to be replaced with oil palm to increase economic security. There are still many opportunities for businesses that will ensure a secure future for Papuans. It is not ethical to sacrifice forests which have intrinsic value with something which is to be used for a short time. We need to understand that Papuans are people who are one with nature so they have to defend it and pass it on to future generations. Don’t destroy the forest with all its wildlife and traditional medicines, we need to evaluate and simply refuse all companies, including oil palm companies in the Land of Papua, and Nabire in particular.

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When oil palm companies move in they will clear the forest. Take, for example, the case of PT Nabire Baru in Wami (Yaur District) and in Sima District, Nabire. According to local people in Wami, the company plans to clear 32,000 of forest. There would be another 8000 in Sima. Meanwhile the deacon of Nabire Bay says that the company plans to clear 17,000 hectares between Wami and Yaro. The Nabire Regency Administration has issued a permit to PT Nabire Baru to develop an oil palm plantation in order to stimulate the economy for the people of Nabire. The government believes that bringing PT Nabire Baru to Wami and Sima will bring economic security both to local indigenous communities and non-Papuans living in Nabire. The government didn’t consider the need to conserve the forest, trees and animals, but just gave the company a permit. By imposing forest conversion to oil palm, the ecosystem and all the animals living around Wami and Yaro villages will be destroyed. The use of pesticides and domestic waste will result in a reduction in the environmental support capacity. That is why it is important to reject oil palm in Wami and Sima.

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We have already watched closely how different areas of Papua have experienced oil palm companies. In each case the reality is that oil palm plantations never bring security to the people of Papua, so why do they still want to allow new oil palm plantations to start up across Papua, this time in Nabire? Oil palm plantations will actually bring new problems for Papuans because they will lose sources of food, medicinal plants will be wiped out and sacred places will be lost. Maybe it is to give job opportunities to immigrant workers from outside Papua? In this way, however, the number of new inhabitants will increase, and the existing inhabitants will just get poorer and never find economic security. Whose interest lies behind forest clearance for oil palm in Papua? Papua is being taken over by foreign companies, and the losers are the ordinary people. It is the ordinary people who will lose their work as farmers because they are not able to compete with big business, or even cannot adjust to working for a modern enterprise. The Papuan people live directly from nature. To get accustomed to modern methods takes a long time for indigenous Papuans. Local governments don’t supply indigenous Papuans with training. Therefore the local people are just considered stupid and unskilled, meaning it is very easy for companies just to bring in immigrants from outside of Papua to make up their workforce.

Conserving Papua’s forest has to be placed in a framework of saving the Papuan people. Papua’s forest should not be seen as a forest for it’s own sake only, but something which is correlated with the Papuan people’s identity. Thinking like this, forest is no longer an object to be exploited, but an integral part of the people of Papua and must be protected and conserved.

A Portrait of Oil Palm for Indigenous Residents of Nabire

The weak and the poor in Papua suffer if their land is gone. They will suffer the loss of traditional medicines and sacred places. Papuan indigenous people’s intimate knowledge of other communities is destroyed by companies that operate or want to operate in Papua. Those communities include the communities of living people and those who have died and are now spirits. Other communities include the water in rivers and lakes, trees, grasses and all rocks and soil that occur in Papua.

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If a company is able to destroy these communities, the indigenous people of Papua will experience a crisis of community and in their relationships and enter a state of chaos. If their deep understanding of nature and these communities is destroyed, they will also go through an inner crisis, disasters such as floods and starvation will increase, even leading to death. This is a clear statement that if a company wants to move into Papua, that company must pay for all the costs it will create, including for dozens of generations to come. If it is unable to pay, then it shouldn’t bother coming to Papua. For this reason, all destruction and forest clearing must stop. Because it is in contradiction with this deep connection with nature and all the communities which are found in Papua.

Portraying it in this way can illustrate how as Nabire experiences increasing levels of forest and environmental destruction, values of peace and justice and even living together as neighbours are fading out of Papuan people’s lives. The challenge set to any company that wants to come to Papua is to respect the indigenous people and their connection to nature. If a company values the forest and environment, it must show a high level of respect for the home of all the communities that exist around Wami and Yaro villages. Only from this can spring a life that of peace and justice, with the indigenous people in harmony with forest communities, in Papua in general and in Nabire in particular.

How the Church in Papua can be involved.

The basis for the how the Church’s can be involved and what position to take on this pastoral challenge can be found in the encyclicals Rerum Novarum (1891) and Guadragessimo Anno (1931). These two documents speak of the Church’s social stance towards workers and the poor, and even societal problems, in terms of the Church’s social and pastoral service. The documents of the Second Vatican Council offer a clear social theology viewpoint for a more comprehensive involvement of the Church, not just limited to workers and their problems, but more about the relationship between the Church and the wider world. In this reflection the Church provides a theological viewpoint on its political commitment as an integral part of its work, and its involvement and place within the social arena. The Church is fundamentally opposed to all forms of human oppression. The Church emphatically rejects that political authority should be placed above God’s authority. Due to this reflection, the Church is always involved in voicing humanitarian values around Indonesia and in Papua in particular. This involvement with society is clarified once more in Gaudium Et Spes art 1 which states: “The joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age, especially those who are poor or in any way afflicted, these are the joys and hopes, the griefs and anxieties of the followers of Christ” In summary, these Church documents form a point on which to press for the Church’s involvement in various social issues in Indonesia, and especially in Papua, for the sake of the safety and freedom of humanity and the nature which was created for this earth. To respond to this aim, it is time for us to be open to getting involved and choose our position to be able to respond to the challenges that exist in Papua. That means that as forest and environmental destruction becomes more firmly established in Papua, the issue requires our collective attention and care.

Author: Pastoral Staff of Timika Diocese, Papua.

nb 2,1Photo: Trees being cut down. Iron wood trees are being consumed by PT Nabire Baru

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Bulldozers destroy the Yerisiam people’s sacred lands around Wami and Sima villages

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Thousands of hectares of forest and hilly ground is being destroyed for oil palm by PT Nabire Baru in Wami and Sima villages, Yaur District Nabire,  West 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]

 

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.

PT Victory will likely destroy Keerom’s Golden Triangle

from our partners at AwasMifee

“We call it the Golden Triangle because it is the land we have always lived from, until now.  We can use the wood, go fishing in the river, and there are also sacred places there,” said Cleman Nouyagir, in a meeting in the Arso deanery. (06/05/2014)

The meeting discussed the Keerom Regency head’s Decision Document SK 93/2013 dated 5th September 2013 which awarded PT Victory Cemerlang Indonesia Wood Industries a location permit for a 4885 hectare oil palm plantation in East Arso district, Keerom Regency.

“All of our forest has been destroyed, we have handed it all over. There’s just a little bit left for our grandchildren, so I would put my life on the line for it”, he stated firmly.

Clemen and the other participants in the meeting were agreed that land that had previously been taken and turned into oil palm plantations had not brought any positive impacts for the people of Keerom.

He continued, “When we talk about Keerom we are not only talking about Arso City, but also people in Workwana and Wambes, all of them should be aware and protect what is left of our land”.

According to him, the people in Workwana and Wambes should be wary of being talked into accepting outside investors’ plantation plans because they would lose their main source of livelihood.

The term ‘Golden Triangle’ emerged in a mapping exercise which was originally conceived in 1992 an eventually finished in 2004 when a mutually-agreed map was produced. This map became a reference when designing the map of Keerom regency, which decided that the area should be designated protected forest. The land is owned by the indigenous people of Workwana, Wambes and Arso City.

“I was involved in making that map before and that land is protected forest and the source of our livelihood. The government should know this already, which means they shouldn’t be giving out permits,” he said.

Source: ALDP