Tag Archives: environmental activism

Nabire: Akudiomi village government forbids forest and marine resource exploitation

February 19, 2016

Report by Robertino Hanebora at Suara Persatuan

translated by awasMifee

Akudiomi village in Yaur subdistrict of Nabire Regency (also known as Kwatisore village) looks out over the Cenderawasih Bay Marine National Park, and is home to whale sharks which are frequently visited by local and foreign tourists.

Several days ago (10/02/2016) in the Akudiomi village hall, the village administration held a meeting with the community, tribal leaders and religious and church leaders to discuss prohibiting the exploitation of forest and marine products by companies. Many companies have been operating in the village’s administrative area recently, damaging the environment.

The village took this step because its natural environment is being plundered and destroyed by people acting irresponsibly. Fishermen from outside Akudiomi are destroying the sea which provides local people’s livelihood by dynamite, potassium and poison. Villagers say that large numbers of dead fish can be seen floating around the area due to people using these destructive techniques.

Another reason is that the sea around their village faces the protected Cenderawasih Bay National Park, which should compel the community and village administration to take a firm stand in looking after the area for the future.

This prohibition also applies to their forest, where they will stop all businesses that try to operate. This represents the shared commitment of the Akudiomi village community.

Following on from this decision, all businesses will be cleared out of the Akudiomi customary and administrative territory on the 22nd February 2016, when the village government and the whole village community will join in a ‘cleaning’ operation. Copies of the decision were also sent to the Consultative Leadership Board (Muspida) and other relevant parties.

Download the Akudiomi village head’s statement (Bahasa Indonesia)


JUBI: Saifi Community Rejects Palm Oil Plantation in Sorong Selatan Regency

Secretary of Sekanoi Customary Council, Simson Sremere (Jubi)
Secretary of Sekanoi Customary Council, Simson Sremere (Jubi)

from our partners at Tabloid Jubi’s West Papua Daily

14 September 2014

Sorong, Jubi – Residents in Salfi Sub-district of Sorong South Regency  rejected the local government’s plan to invite a palm oil plantation company to their area, said Customary Council community leaders.

“We absolutely reject it, because it would affect to the sustainability of our dense forest,” the Secretary of Sekanoi Customary Council Simson Sremere said. He further said the palm oil plantation would threat and damage the forest sustainability in their customary area.

“In addition, the deforestation for the palm oil plantation could threaten the habitat of various animals in our forest,” he said.

The presence of a palm oil company could have an adverse effect on the local economy and marginalise the local community as the company would  tend to hire  migrant employees.

Meanwhile, a youth leader from Sayal Vilalge, Maikel Ajamsaru asked the South Sorong  Government to decline the MoU with the major investment companies who threat the ecosystem within other regions in South Sorong Regency.  “Local government must review some agreements with the future investment companies,”  Ajamsaru said. (Nees Makuba/rom)

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


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.

Destroying sago trees will kill the Papuan people

6 September 2013

Merauke:  A member of the Regional Legislative Assembly of Merauke  has once against drawn attention to the activities now under way  by a company called PT Dongeng Prabawa. The crucial issue he raised relates to  the sago trees  belonging to the people living in various kampungs in the District of Ngguti.

‘I want to say to the company that  if the sago trees which have been protected and looked after by the Marind people for generations are felled  to make way for an investment project, you will be killing the indigenous Papuan people. Sago is the basic foodstuff for the indigenous people and it is unacceptable for the you to destroy their trees.’.

Hendrikus Hengky Ndiken said areas where the sago trees grow must not be dealt with in this way by the company. It is unacceptable for these areas where local people live to be exploited. What are the people going to eat if their source of food is destroyed?

He also insisted that the company abide by the agreement to pay for their land.which amounts to Rp30 billion. They must  pay up now and not pay in instalments. ‘They have billions of rupiahs so how can it be that they cannot  comply with their obligations to the people? If you can’t pay up, then you had better get out, he said.

He went on to say that he had visited a kampung called kampung Senegi and asked the people what they had received from the company. They said that they had received nothing except for a church.

The local district chief Romanus Mbaraks said that not all the trees belonging to the people had been destroyed. In some sacred areas, the people  had guarded their trees. ‘I ask the people to report to us if their sago trees have been destroyed by the company.’

Translated by TAPOL


Women And The Fight For Peace And Freedom In West Papua

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Published in Partnership between West Papua Media and AWID

Source: AWID

August 9, 2013

Women and the Fight for Peace and Freedom in West Papua

FRIDAY FILE: After 42 years of Indonesian rule, women in West Papua continue to fight for their freedom and peace.

By Rochelle Jones

West Papua – officially under Indonesian rule since 1963 – is located in the Western half of the island of New Guinea – 250km north of Australia. In 2012, West Papua Media conducted interviews with four West Papuan women who are active in the nonviolent movement for freedom. Here, AWID gives some background, and excerpts from the interviews. 

Act of No Choice

The Australian-based Free West Papua describes how during the 1950s, West Papua was under Dutch Colonial rule, but by 1961 were moving towards independence with their own flag, the ‘Morning Star’, and Papuan government officials. In the early sixties, however, “Conflict erupted over West Papua between The Netherlands and Indonesia, and a United Nations agreement gave control of the colony to Indonesia for six years. This was to be followed by a referendum. These six years of Indonesian control saw well-documented cases of violence and abuse by the military. Then in 1969, Indonesia conducted a sham referendum called the Act of Free Choice. Only 1025 Papuans, representing a population of one million, were picked to vote. Under severe duress, including threats from senior ranking military officials to cut their tongues out, they voted to remain part of Indonesia. Despite a critical report by a UN official who was present, citing serious violations, the UN shamefully sanctioned the vote and West Papua officially became a part of Indonesia. Papuans call this referendum the ‘Act of No Choice’”

With a track record of denying foreign journalists access to West Papua (or arresting and deporting them) – the Indonesian government continues its stronghold over this resource-rich region. A stronghold held together largely by the presence of the Indonesian military¾which are known for their violence enacted with impunity, but also by the silence of the international community. Free West Papua estimates that “since 1962, 100,000 people have been killed or disappeared by the brutal military regime. Thousands have been raped and tortured and entire villages, especially in the highlands, have been destroyed.” In May this year, West Papua Media published one disturbing report of recent killings and rapes, perpetrated by the Indonesian military.

Tragically, reports such as these are part of every-day life for West Papuans, who are of Melanesian descent and culturally different from Indonesians. Resistance to Indonesia’s occupation has existed from the beginning – but the military has repeatedly responded with violence and intimidation. Whilst more information is getting out about West Papua and international concern grows over the human rights situation, this can be marred by politics and economics, with governments hesitant to upset Indonesia.  In recent years a new independence organisation, the National Committee for West Papua (KNPB) has held “huge independence rallies… across West Papua and the West Papuan’s voice is united more than ever.”

Women in the struggle

Asked why they joined the nonviolent movement, Fanny Kogoya, Rini Tabuni, Heni Lani and Ice Murib (1), the women interviewed by West Papua Media, each recount experiences of injustice, disrespect and the violence of growing up in a land without freedom. Murib highlights the simplicity of their struggle: “We want to be free. We want you to help us be free. Indonesia doesn’t care about us as people. So the only thing that we want is to be free…to live our own life in our own land.”

Kogoya says: “As a child I often saw people beaten-up by the police, without any reason at all… As a student I started to compare government policies with what was actually happening… On the one hand you had the constitution, which talked about freedom and the Pancasila, which talked about social justice, but in reality there was very little political space for us Papuans. When I was living in Java I could compare the health and education system with what we had in West Papua and it was just so different…There is very little political difference for Papuans before or after [the regime of] Suharto… Papua has yet to experience a real democratic space. These kinds of things make me really emotional. I realized I had to resist. I can’t be silent.”

Tabuni recalls: “my father was one of the victims of 1977. Indonesian soldiers cut open his chest with knives. They took out the contents of his stomach and they removed his heart. My grandfather saw this happening with his own eyes. As the soldiers were cutting open my father’s chest they were saying, “Where is your God now? Who is here to save you?” Tabuni explains how freedom activist Benny Wenda, now living in exile in the UK, inspired her after her family lived in Jayapura with Wenda’s people: “In 2000 Benny started to become more active… [and was granted] refugee status in England. We watched… how he continued to struggle. That inspired those of us who lived inside Papua to continue to struggle… It was in this context that the KNPB entered. My friends and I said let’s stay with this organization, let’s sit down with them and see what we can do together.”

After witnessing countless events as a young girl, like the arrest of her father, Lani recounts her political awakening as a student when she was told about the history of West Papua’s struggle: “Before [this] it was like I was sitting in this small dark room with little rays of light coming through. These rays of light were like my father getting arrested and Benny Wenda getting arrested. When I got my education it was like the door of this room was flung open… I went outside for the first time and saw what was really happening. The day on the beach in Hamadi was the first time I saw the Morning Star flag. I grabbed it and held it. Finally, I realized, I’m not an Indonesian, I’m a Papuan!”

However, there is a struggle within the movement. Kogoya describes it as a “double challenge” that women face: “We struggle against Indonesia but we also struggle against patriarchy in the movement. See we have two enemies: the way women are treated within the movement and the evil and injustice of the state. We are definitely fighting against some of the men within the movement who think we aren’t capable.” To that, however, Lani says “Women are in leadership positions and telling men what to do, so we’re already there… playing positions of leadership in the movement.”

Ongoing nonviolent resistance

Living with such violence and oppression, the women still agree that nonviolent resistance is the way forward, and yet they also admit to thinking about taking up arms. One of the obvious barriers to taking up an armed struggle is the sheer strength of the Indonesian military. Kogoya says “Even though we’re struggling nonviolently the Indonesian state continues to respond violently. They arrest people, beat people, kill people. Often my activist friends say, “What’s the point? If we struggle nonviolently they’re going to beat us, arrest us … if we struggle violently they’ll do the same things. Often people join the armed struggle because… they’ve had these traumatic experiences and… it’s an emotional reaction. Of course in our culture we also have a history of fighting back… of tribal warfare. We are a courageous people. So with these three things – our memories of suffering, our history and culture, and our courage – armed struggle is a real option for us….But Papuans are also a very practical people. We know civil resistance can also work. So my dream is to learn more about civil resistance.”

Tabuni understands why people would want to respond with violence, however, she says: “If I struggle through violence I am going to experience a number of problems. I’m going to lose a lot of my rights. I’m going to lose my best friends. And people are going to… steal my land and kill me… But now I see that there’s an opportunity to resist through nonviolent struggle. People at the grassroots need to know that nonviolent action can be really successful… We can learn from the examples of other countries.”

How can the international community help?

To be an independent nation is the goal for West Papua¾freedom from Indonesian rule and its associated violence. But this is also a struggle for culture and for the environment. Lani says since she joined the struggle “my friends have been arrested, some have died in jail, some have fled to Papua New Guinea. It’s like we are migrants in our own land. So many people from Java, from Sulawesi, from Sumatra have come to our land.” Large scale migration of Indonesians into West Papua has the potential to unthread the very fabric of their culture and existence – and the mining and deforestation of pristine forests threatens to destroy the environment as well.

To achieve freedom these women stress the need for as many people as possible to stand in solidarity. Kogoya says they need the support of environmental groups around the world to join the struggle, adding “We need institutional support. And we want people to campaign about Papua to stop the violence… We really need technical assistance with media. We also need to influence other countries, particularly the U.S.”. Lani’s message is “for all the Papuan people to be involved in the civil resistance struggle. We have to work together.” She adds “Tell your friends in Australia and the U.S., ‘Stop sending military weapons to Indonesia. Stop.’ Because whenever we do things we face the military with those arms, and those arms are sent by your countries. The military are being trained by your countries to kill us.”

Read the full interviews here: “We Want To Be Free”: An Interview With Four Women From The West Papuan Movement For Freedom

For more information:

Visit West Papua’s Independent Human Rights Media: https://westpapuamedia.info/

Read the Enough is Enough report (testimonies of women from West Papua) from the International Center for Transitional Justice.

Read the latest HR report from the International Coalition for Papua



1) “We want to be free”: An interview with four women from the West Papuan Movement for Freedom. Interview by Alex Rayfield and Claudia King from West Papua Media. Photos taken by Javiera Rose.

Article License: Creative Commons – Article License Holder: AWID