Two West Papuan Community led Ecological Struggles

From our friends at Hidup Biasa and

Two West Papuan Community Ecological Struggles

On the sidelines of the Papuan People’s struggle for self-determination, at a local level Papuan communities continue to resist the logging and mining industries that are destroying their forests. Here are two stories of recent community resistance from areas close to the Papuan capital Jayapura, translated from the Alliance for Democracy in Papua website

1. Seeing their forest destroyed, Arso Villagers Burn Five Logging Camps.

Annoyed by hearing the sound of chainsaws almost every day, and in addition the reports of villagers who regularly enter the forest telling of finding loggers’ camps there, around 20 people from Arso, both young and old, agreed to check the forest for themselves.

Community Resistance against logging (file photo: "The forest eats the forest-eater" by

This area of forest is commonly called the ‘Golden Triangle’, and is divided between the territory of three villages, Arso, Workwana and Wambes.

As they had guessed they would, once inside the forest they found two sites used by loggers, which had been connected with a track made from offcuts of wood which the loggers would use, dragging the wood from behind a vehicle.

At the first site there was only one camp. At this camp they confiscated two chainsaws and took statements from three loggers who were at the location. They then forced the loggers to leave.

The group continued to the next location. Possibly because the loggers had received information from their friends at the first site, there was only one person left, and they didn’t find any chainsaws.

As their emotions rose some people almost hit out at the logger, but were held back by others. At this second location, four camps were found, complete with televisions, speakers, supplies of food and clothing and so on.  Two vehicles used for dragging wood were also found.  In their emotional state, the people destroyed and burned the camps and everything they found there, along with the camp at the first location.  The two vehicles were also burnt.

According to statements from the loggers, they had been given permission by the customary chief of kampung Workwana, although the Arso villagers felt that they had been cutting trees far inside the Arso territory.

Several people interviewed in kampung Arso on Tuesday 6th March explained that they were still angry “It’s so sad to look at that forest, they even cut very small ironwood trees.” said Wenderlinus Tuamis, a youth who had participated that day.

Meanwhile, according to Franky Borotian, they had been allowing the logging to continue because previously a villager from Workwana had asked to use wood to build her house “a sister had asked for permission to build a house, but then it turned out someone used that permission for business purposes”, he said.

The problem has been passed over to the Customary Council (Dewan Adat).  Villagers asked the Customary Council to use their wisdom to resolve the situation so that conflicts between the people would not emerge.  Especially since the Golden Triangle had become the area which people rely on for food, as other areas have been taken over by two big oil palm plantations, state-owned PTPN II and PT Tandan Sawita Papua (Part of Peter Sondakh’s Rajawali Group)


2. Tablasupa Nickel Mining’s Drilling Rig Burned, Three Imprisoned

On the morning of 8th February 2012, local people from kampung Tablasupa, near to the Papuan capital Jayapura, burned a drilling rig belonging to the mining company PT Tablasupa Nikel Mining.   The action was connected to an ongoing conflict between local people and the company, which plans to mine nickel on 9629 hectares of land, and is currently carrying out exploration activities.   Although the company has been given a permit by the local Jayapura Bupati’s office, the people of Tablasupa feel that their rights as the holders of customary rights over the land have not been respected.

Two weeks after the machine was burnt, on February 20th,  police arrested
three villagers. Saul Sorontouw, Lambertus Seibo and Kanisius Kromisian.
They have been charged under article 170 of the Indonesian penal code, and are being held in Jayapura police headquarters. While in prison Saul Sorontouw has been ill with gout, which has caused swellings in his knees.  On February 28th police demanded statements from another six villagers, but they were allowed to go home that evening.

The following statement was released by villagers of Tablasupa the day
before the action:

Statement of opinion of the Sorontou-Okoseray-Kiswaitou Ethnic Group
As holders of rights to customary lands on the area covered by PT Tablasupa Nickel Mining’s Mine Enterprise Permit (IUP), Mining Rights (KP) and the Bupati’s recommendation that allows exploration in Kampung Tablasupa, Jayapura Regency

Regarding the as yet unresolved problems around PT Tablasupa Nickel Mining commencing exploration activities on customary land belonging to the people of kampung Tablasupa, the Sorontou- Okoseray- Kiswaitou ethnic group wishes to make the following declaration:

“Reject PT Tablasupa Nickel Mining” conducting exploration and mineral exploitation activities within the customary boundaries of the Sorontou- Okoseray- Kiswaitou ethnic group.

The reasons for our rejection of mining activities are as follows:
1. The whole territory of kampung Tablasupa is unsuitable for mining

2. The impact of mining activities would also damage the environment of
areas that fall within the territory of neighbouring villages.

3 To avoid mining activities causing conflict with the people and nearby villages.

4. The effect of mining activities will damage and desecrate the environment, and industrial pollution from the mine will contribute to global warming and affect the sources of clean water from the Cyclop mountains.

5. No consensus has been reached through a musyawarah system that would
represent an agreement between the people of Tablasupa and neighbouring

6. The holders of customary rights to the land have not given their approval (under the Law on Mineral and Coal Mining 4/2009 article 135, companies holing a Mine Enterprise Permit can only commence activities if they have obtained agreement from the holders of customary rights on that land).

7. The customary and human rights of the Sorontou- Okoseray- Kiswaitou
ethnic group must be respected and valued by all.

A solution to the development of kampung Tablasupa which supports the
social economy and also contributes to local business could include:
-building beach tourism and hotels
-developing fishing
-selling fresh water.

Such development would involve all the people of Tablsupa either as workers or taking roles in a management structure and could take the form of an enterprise or foundation that was formed by the people of kampung Tablasupa.

This is the message that the Sorontou- Okoseray- Kiswaitou ethnic group wishes to be known by the general public.

Tablasupa, 07 February 2012 .

Sources: ; ; and other articles on

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