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UN wants to send Special Rapporteur to Indonesia to investigate MIFEE


Bintang Papua, 12 October 2011The UN Commission to Combat Racial Discrimination and Protect the Rights of Indigenous People has sent a letter to the Indonesian ambassador to Geneva, Anwar Kemal, regarding several matters.

In the first place, to agree to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to visit Indonesia in connection with MIFEE, the Merauke Integrated Energy and Food Project in West Papua. In the second place to hold talks with CERD for this matter to be discussed at the forthcoming meeting of the Committee in Geneva from 13 February – 13 March 2012. And thirdly, to to make available comprehensive information regarding all the matters contained in the afore-mentioned latter.

This was made  public following a meeting by a number of NGOs in Jayapura on 12 October which was attended among others by Foker-NGO-Papua, Sawit Watch, Greenpeace, Justuce and Peace Commission/Jayapura, Walhi and Sorpatom in Jayapura on 12 October.

The Coalition of NGOs said that the response of the UN to the MIFEE project had exerted pressure on the Indonesian government to halt all activities related to the MIFEE project and to invite the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights to investigate this project before 13 January 2012.

The coalition said that MIFEE would have a strategically significant inpact on the availability of foodstuffs and energy resources in Indonesia.

This project will cover an area of 1.6 million hectares which will be used to produce millions of tons of rice, corn, beans and sugar as well as promote cattle-rearing. Dazzled  by this massive project, they have closed their eyes to a huge problem that will confront the population of Merauke whose land will be consumed by the MIFEE.project.

The MIFEE project is a highly ambitious mega  project of the Indonesian Government based on a slogan to produce food for the whole world. They intend to take control of an area of 1.6m ha of land for agri-business purposes. The resultant food will be exported, meaning that MIFEE is directed towards the export market. Thirty-six companies have already been attracted by the MIFEE project with investment capital to the value of Rp 18.9 trillion, along with domestic capital.

Research undertaken by various organisations has identified a number of problems.

First of all, this project which will cover a total area of  altogether 2m ha of land belonging to the indigenous people will have a direct impact on the traditional rights of the these people.

Furthermore,  this expansion will cut down forests belonging to indigenous people in order to grow  palm oil and will result in the influx of a huge number of people from outside the area, threatening the local people’s livelihoods and destroying their traditional economic practices.

These developments will exert huge pressure on the Malind people and their traditions in particular, and the Papuan people in general, turning them into a minority people in their own land.

In addition, these developments which are supported by various state forces will require the protection of the Indonesian army.

Fourthly, the decisions regarding exploitation of natural resources are hugely dependent on the central government and are being developed in accordance with national laws that ignore the indigenous people, despite the adoption of the Special Autonomy law in 2001, the aim of which was to decentralise decision-making to the provincial level with regard to a number of issues, while nothing has happened regarding the introduction regulations.for the implementation of this law.

Fifthly, it is understood that most of the MIFEE area has been classified as ‘forest’ and placed under the jurisdiction of the forestry department, whose interpretation of the forestry laws impinge on the rights of the indigenous people.

Finally, there are reports that local communities have been manipulated by investors and government officials so as to secure their signatures  to provide the legal basis for certificates affirming their right to the land of the indigenous people.

IRONIC SURVIVAL: Surviving MIFEE

Alex Mahuze is a Malind tribesman and a sago farmer in Merauke. His clan has for generations lived in harmony with nature. The arrival of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) program has forced him to earn money through other means, which ironically harms the environment. He lost his lands and his culture is threatened, but Alex fights on.

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/29128486 w=500&h=400]

Originally at EngageMediaengagemedia.org/​Members/​papuanvoicesmerauke/​videos/​ironic_survival/​view

Re-uploaded by westpapuamedia as courtesy to Papuan Voices Merauke and EngageMedia: EngageMedia cannot share effectively due to software restrictions in embedding iframes across many platforms. This is temporary fix to help get it out further.

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produced by Papuan Voices [Merauke}
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produced Sep 15, 2011
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* Sago, or Metroxylon sagu is a species of palm in the genus Metroxylon. It tolerates a wide variety of soils and may reach 30 meters in height. Several other species of the genus metroxylon, particularly metroxylon salomonense and metroxylon amicarum, are also used as sources of sago through Melanesia and Micronesia. In addition to its use as a food source, the leaves and spathe of the sago palm are used for construction materials and for thatching roofs, and the fibre can be made into rope.

* Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate – MIFEE – was announced on 18 February 2010 by the former Bupati of Merauke, J.G Gebze and officially launched on 11 August 2010 by the Minister of Agriculture, Siswono Yodohusodo on behalf of the Indonesian President. The project involves 36 investors, 13 of whom are already operating in the area. MIFEE covers an area of 2.5 million hectares and plans to bring into the area a work force of four million people.

MIFEE project violates human rights: Joint press release

Joint Press Release,

14 August 2011

Walhi, Pusaka, Sajogyo Institute, Sorpatom, Papuan NGOs Working Group, Sawit Watch, Aman, Huma,  JKPP, KPA, Kontras, Green Peace Indonesia, DtE

MIFEE Project Violates Human Rights

[Translated by TAPOL]

One year after the MIFEE (Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate) Project was launched by the central government, the situation of the people in Merauke  has become a matter of grave concern.  The indigenous Malind  people and the inhabitants in Merauke in general have been threatened and marginalised as a result of the conversion of their land and their ancestral forests by the MIFEE Project.

Research undertaken by Pusaka, called  ‘MIFEE does not reflect the aspirations of the Malind people’ drew the conclusion that the MIFEE Project was launched as the illegitimate offspring of the global food crisis for Food, Feed, Fuel and Climate Change (3F and 2C).  MIFEE is called the ‘illegitimate offspring’ because it is not a solution that serves the interests of the majority of the people but is the result of a conspiracy between capitalists and the government in search of economic rent side by side with cramped living conditions for the majority of the people. In the words of Emillianus Ola Kleden, a researcher for Pusaka Foundation, the MIFEE programme will have a number of negative impacts on the social and cultural fabric, the demographics, the social and economic conditions and the environment of the people. These negative impacts  will also worsen the living conditions of many groups living in the areas affected by the project.

Laksmi A Savitri, a researcher for the Sajogyo Institute, came across facts showing that MIFEE is a development model which makes no provision for improving the living standards  of the indigenous people in Merauke and is only focussed on the accumulation of corporate profits. There are three reasons for this, according to Laksmi:  firstly, it fails to respect the concept of land and identity  which is inseparable from the identity and dignity of the Malind people; secondly, it fails to understand the close links between the Malind people’s system of living and the natural resources and the forests, and assumes that the loss of forestry resources will be replaced by opportunities to work as day labourers for the companies; and thirdly, it pays no attention to the process of meaningful social transformation for the Malind people towards a better life in ways and forms that are defined by the Malind people themselves.

According to Billy Metemko, chairman of Sorpatom Merauke, the Merauke Project  has already caused significant damage  to  the social structure of the customary groups who have lost land where they are able to look for food and fulfil their social  needs, like what has happened in Zanegi Kampung in the operational area of PT Medco or Domande Kampung in the operational area of PT Rajawali and Nakias Kampung in the operational area of PT Dongin Prabhawa.  The destruction of these forests has resulted in the destruction of traditional symbols, the source of their livelihood, while in the longer term, it will lead to the wholesale destruction and extermination of traditional communities in Merauke.

Since 2010, Sawit Watch and the Justice and Peace Commission of the Diocese of Merauke (SKP-Merauke) have held a number of meetings in kampungs along the border region between Indonesia and Papua New Guinea in South Papua and have discovered that land has been allocated for palm oil plantations on a massive scale. In the district of Merauke, at least 380,887 hectares have been allocated to ten companies, and 320,000 hectares in the district of Boven Digoel where licences have been issued to eight palm oil plantation companies. Opening up the land to palm oil plantations  on such a large scale has resulted in forest areas in the south of Papua having been turned into mono-cultural  plantations  leading to ecological destruction and the permanent and irreversible loss of its vitally important diversity. The presence of traditional communities  and indigenous Papuan people whose lives still depend on the forests will eventually be uprooted and marginalised as a consequence of development schemes that fail to take account of local wisdom and culture.

Bearing these conditions in mind, civil society in Indonesia has warned the Indonesian government and parliament, the DPR RI, that this project is more harmful than beneficial. Nevertheless the government  seems to have refused to listen to reports about the destruction of the environment, the food culture of the traditional communities and their life spaces and the destruction of Merauke’s forests. Sorpatom (Solidarity of Papuan People Rejecting MIFEE) has on numerous occasions organised activities to reject the  presence of MIFEE. Komali (the Community of Traditional Communities) wrote to the Indonesian president last year expressing the same views about MIFEE.

A field visit to Merauke by the environmental NGO WALHI in June 2011 discovered that during the course of the past year, at least one hundred thousand hectares of natural forest in Merauke have been cleared, including sago hamlets which protected food security  at all times, regardless of the season, and are very adaptable to changes in the climate. The marshlands are threatened  by drought, as a result of which  fish, birds  and deer  that have provided the local people with their source of protein will find it increasingly difficult to enjoy the necessary living space. Eventually, the Economic, Social and Cultural (ECOSOC)  rights will become ever more inaccessible to protection and provision by the state. Berry N. Forqan, the national executive director of WALHI, has stated that it is reasonable to say that the Indonesian government should be regarded as having caused the violation of basic human rights with the MIFEE Project.

Sinal Blegur, a member of the Working Group of NGOs in Papua, said that the violation of these ECOSOC rights will ultimately lead to the violation of  civil and political rights because MIFEE could potentially pave the way for the security forces  to enter the region on a massive scale to protect the operations of the companies.

In view of the above, dozens of local, national and international NGOs  have in the past month jointly produced a report to be submitted  to the Special Rapporteur of the UN on the Right to Food, drawing attention to threats to the right to food  of the traditional communities in Merauke. According to Abet Nego Tarigan, executive director of Sawit Watch, 22 NGOs  have so far signed  this document, representing the traditional communities in Merauke who are the victims or potential victims of the MIFEE Project The report has also been sent to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights  of the Human Rights Treaties Division.

This means that all civil society organisations which are concerned with the rights and living space for indigenous Papuan people should call on the government to immediately halt all MIFEE activities and Food Estates in general  in Indonesia that are  damaging the environment and forcing the  removal of traditional communities from their traditional land  and areas which they manage. The national, provincial and district governments must stop granting location licences  to companies and hold an inclusive dialogue, in which the Malind people are central, to discuss the allocation of land, the provision of space and development capital for agriculture, in conformity with social transformation that can bring the Malind people self-reliance and dignity.

All this is intended to ensure that similar operations that have resulted in the massive destruction of the environment which have occurred in Sumatra, Java, Kalimantan and Sulawesi  should not be repeated in Papua.

Contacts:

Islah, Manager   of the Water and Food Campaign, WALHI;

Frangky Samperante, Director of Psaka;

A Karlo Nainggolan, staff member of Advocacy, Policy and Legal Defence, Sawit Watch;

Laksmi Savitri, Sajogyo Institute;

Sinal Blegur, member of the Working Group of NGOs in Papua.

AlertNet: Indonesia re-thinks Papua food project – report

http://www.trust.org/alertnet/blogs/alertnet-news-blog/indonesia-re-thinks-papua-food-project-report

By Thin Lei Win

A member of the Koroway tribe walks up a ladder to his house at a forest near Merauke city in Indonesia's Papua province in this May 18, 2010 handout photo.A member of the Koroway tribe walks up a ladder to his house at a forest near Merauke city in Indonesia’s Papua province in this May 18, 2010 handout photo.

BANGKOK (AlertNet) –Indonesia’s government is considering moving its controversial food security project from Merauke, on the island of Papua, to East Kalimantan province, on Borneo island, due to lack of progress in the past two years, the Jakarta Globe reported.

Under MIFEE (Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate) plans, 1.63 million hectares of forest which form the basis of life for some 200,000 indigenous people in the Merauke area would be used to grow rice, palm oil, soya bean and corn among other crops.

Earlier this month, AlertNet reported criticism from rights activists that MIFEE threatens indigenous people and the forests and ecosystems in the area.

They also said the government has failed to sufficiently consult the native residents over the impact, which will include losing their customary lands, an influx of migrants from the rest of Indonesia and decreased quality of the ecosystems which people rely on for food and for their livelihood.

The minister of agriculture, Suswono, said on Monday that 200,000 hectares of land available in East Kalimantan could be used for agriculture, according to the Globe.

“The principle of the food estate is finding enough land for an agricultural zone. It doesn’t have to be in Papua,” the Globe quoted the minister as saying.

“[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.”

Indonesia annually imports 2 million tonnes each of rice and soybean, and the nation needs to be able to feed its people without importing food, he added

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.”