Tag Archives: Indonesian military business

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]

 

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

Papuan Governor to Revoke 50 Logging, Mining and Plantation Permits

October 22, 2013

Around 50-60 permits for forest management, mining and even plantations which were issued by Papua’s two caretaker governors over the last two years are going to be revoked. “A caretaker governor does not have the authority to issue permits, their duty is only to prepare local elections to choose the definitive governor,” said Lukas Enembe, the Governor of Papua Province, on Friday 11th October 2013.

The election for the Governor of Papua Province was delayed for two years and during that time 60 forestry, mining and plantation companies received permits to start operations in Papua.

“In the end monopolies have arisen over natural resources, land and forests. The mechanism must be regulated so that no one company or corporate group has a monopoly. A caretaker does not have the right to do this., and so they have contravened the law. I have signed a document meaning that those companies can no longer operate in Papua.”

Last August, Enembe wrote to the Forestry Ministry calling for a halt to 13 of the 25 timber utilization permits from natural forests (IUPHHK-HA) that are currently in force in Papua , covering an area of 2,083,091 hectares.

The Governor will also evaluate 42 gold mining companies in Degeuwo, all of which are illegal. “Really we should already have intervened in this area. Although the Governor ha previously issued an instruction to shut the mines, but the regency governments haven’t carried it out. What’s going on there?” asked the Secretary of the Papuan Provincial Mining and Energy Agency, Fred Boray.

The Degeuwo mining area, which was first opened in 2002, is located across four government districts: Nabire, Paniai, Intan Jaya and Deiyai Regencies. There are currently 42 companies operating, but only six have permits.

Papua province covers an area of around 32,757,948 hectares, of which 31,738,931 hectares (97.89%) is land area. Land classified as production forest or limited production forest is around 10,700,567 hectares, and timber utilization permits have been issued for 4,989,783 hectares.

The governor has requested Regency leaders (bupatis) not to issue permits that will result in forest destruction. The reason is that damage to the forest will not bring any positive contribution to people’s lives. “For example, the oil palm plantations in Keerom Regency that are no longer productive. Because of that, I ask all the bupatis not to give out permits too freely, they should look at the seriousness of the investor,” said Enembe.

(translated by AwasMifee)

[awasMIFEE note: no info as yet which of the plantation permits are likely to be cancelled as a result of this decision. It is not expected that any of the MIFEE plantations will be affected. On the other hand, in Nabire, leader of the Yerisiam Tribe, Simon Petrus Hanebora welcomed the news, hoping that it would mean that PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggul Mandiri would have their permits revoked. The two companies have been accused of illegally clearing the Yerisiam people’s ancestral land.]

Sugar Company Rajawali’s Sweet Promises on MIFEE

Source: Pusaka
http://pusaka.or.id/2012/12/perusahaan-tebu-rajawali-manis-janjinya.html

December 13, 2012

The Malind indigenous people from Domande and Kaiburse villages are continuing to raise complaints and accusations against two subsidiaries of the Rajawali Group, PT Karyabumi Papua and PT Cenderawasih Jaya Mandiri, which are currently developing sugarcane plantations in Malind and Kurik districts, Merauke, West Papua.

The company has already been operating in Domande village since 2011, and has built a road and cut down the forest to develop their plantation and factory infrastructure.

“At the beginning, the company promised they would recruit local people as their labour force, but that turned out to be untrue. Many of the workers came from outside the village, which left local people feeling let down”, said Hubertus, a young person from Domande.

The company had made a list of ten promises which the people of Domande had agreed to, sweet-sounding promises about building facilities and infrastructure and recruiting local labour. But then when the people would demand their rights, the company would often refuse to meet those promises.

Tired of waiting for the company to give compensation for the trees they had already felled, villagers and holders of traditional land rights blockaded the road in November 2012. The company managed to reach an agreement with local community leaders that they would meet their demands and pay compensation for the trees at the beginning of December 2012, but there have still been no signs that the company will meet the obligations which it agreed to.

“The company just decieves us all the time”, said Hubertus, irritated.

In Kaiburze village, the head of the LMA (Lembaga Masyarakat Adat = Customary People’s Organisation), Ursus B. Samkakai, has sent letters to the government and the company, making clear that they did not consider as legitimate any permits or agreements with investors made without the knowledge or agreement of the local people and the LMA.

Paulus Samkakai, LMA’s secretary in Kaiburse, related how villagers from Kaiburse, together with the Malind LMA at the Merauke Regency level, have asked the Papua branch of the National Human Rights Commission to issue a letter of recommendation to the local government and the Rajawali company. They want them to conduct a meeting to discuss compensation and the opinion of the Domande people who reject investment plans in the Kaiburse area.

The Kaiburze people reject the company because they no longer have access to much land. Most of their customary land is now taken over by transmigrant villages, covering a area of 40,000 hectares.

The problem is that government and transmigrants, who have arrived from outside the area, often take over, use or sell this customary land, without the permission of the Kaiburse villagers or clans who hold the rights to that land. That includes giving it to the companies.

The people hope that through its policy and support the local government will protect the Malind people’s customary rights.

English version: https://awasmifee.potager.org/?p=297

Tempo: Papua MIFEE Project Faces Criticism

http://www.tempointeractive.com/hg/nasional/2011/08/15/brk,20110815-351921,uk.html

TEMPO InteractiveJakarta:The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) Program has been accused of disenfranchising local farmers in Papua. Berry N. Furqon, director of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), said that more than 100,000 ha of forest had been cut down for the project, including the sago forest on which the locals depend upon.

Abet Nego Tarigan, executive director of Sawit Watch, called on the United Nations to cancel the project. Abet said the MIFEE could endanger Indonesia as it allows companies rather than farmers to control the food supply.

The MIFEE project was inaugurated by Agriculture Minister Suswono on August 11 last year. The program sees plantations in Merauke managed by companies that also manage the local farmers. One million ha, divided in five clusters, has been allocated for the program.

As many as 32 companies have obtained principle licenses and will operate in a range of plantation sectors, namely palm oil, sugar cane and corn among others. Companies that have invested in the program include Wilmar, Sinarmas, Bakrie Sumatera Plantation, Medco, Bangun Cipta Sarana and Artha Graha.

NUR ROCHMI

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2) Indonesia Turns Back on Papua Food Bowl Plan
Faisal Maliki Baskoro | August 15, 2011

After two years with little progress, the government is considering shifting the location of its planned food estate to East Kalimantan from Papua because of the availability of land.

Suswono, the agriculture minister, on Monday said there was 200,000 hectares of land in East Kalimantan that could be used as an agriculture cluster. Under its plan, the Merauke Food Industrial Estate would have about 2 million hectares.

“The principle of the food estate is finding enough land for an agricultural zone. It doesn’t have to be in Papua,” he said. “[The East Kalimantan site] may not as big as Merauke, but it is more feasible. It has been two years since we floated the plan, but there has been no progress at all.”

Suswono said land clearance regulations were partly to blame for the slow progress.

“The construction of the Merauke food estate was obstructed by lack of regulation to clear necessary land,’’ Suswono said.

The government annually imports 2 million tons each of rice and soybean, and the nation needs to be able to feed its people without importing food, he said.

He said the government and potential investors would seek suitable areas for producing the two crops.

“The land in East Kalimantan is good for planting rice,” he said. To grow soybean, the ministry would need at least 500,000 hectares, and the government was still looking for land in Kalimantan.

While East Kalimantan has 200,000 hectares of land free, the West Kalimantan administration said it could provide 100,000 hectares of land, he said.

Suswono said farmland would not interfere with the preservation of forests. “We will be using open land, and probably convert production forests to farms. We will also empower local people to get involved in the program.”