OIL PALM COMPANY IN NABIRE SUPPORTED BY PAPUAN BRIMOB POLICE FORCES
August 25, 2015
By Santon Tekege for West Papua Media
Nabire based human rights activist Gunawan Inggeruhi has stated that an oil palm company managed by PT New Nabire and PT SAD, has caused uneasiness amongst citizens of Wami and Sima, Yaur district, in Nabire region.
Citizens in this area have been falsely and maliciously stigmatised by the companies as being suspected OPM (Free Papua Movement) members or activists, with the result that they are constantly made frightened and anxious by security forces.
On 4 January 2015, paramilitary BRIMOB police forces arrested a villager who is the traditional landowner of the location, by the name of Otis Waropen (aged 34 years). He was arrested at the PT New Nabire oil palm company plantation in the village of Wami in Yaur District, Nabire. In a direct telephone interview on 22 August 2015, Waropen revealed that he was arrested by BRIMOB police on “suspicion resulting from stigmatisation of being an OPM member,” and “on suspicion of making a movement of troublemakers in the vicinity of the PT New Nabire Oil Palm plantation.”
“It is not only (waropen) who has experienced such stigmatisation from BRIMOB who are acting as the protectors of that oil palm company,” Gunawan Inggeruhi told me.
“Many citizens who claim their traditional customary land rights, asking for the company to be closed and its license to operate be revoked, have been accused of being OPM members and ‘part of a movement of troublemakers’. When in fact the reality is that those who make trouble and terrify the village community in Wami and Sima are the Papuan BRIMOB forces.”
Inggeruhi explained, “Citizens previously lived in this area in a peaceful and calm atmosphere. These people are not OPM and they are not making some sort of opposition or troublemaker movement against the oil palm companies (PT New Nabire or PT SAD Perkasa).”
He described how most observers perceive that the actions of the Police and the Companies “are themselves making anarchy and intentionally killing the freedom of the people,” and creating fear amongst the people, even arresting and imprisoning them.
Inggeruhi went on to say that “All entrances into the plantation are guarded strictly and protected by Papuan BRIMOB Police. There’s around 50 BRIMOB armed forces there and they are assisted by intelligence personnel, all the way along the road from Wanggar until the village of Sima.”
“If we go to that location BRIMOB chase us and spy on us all the way along that road.” Inggeruhi said that even himself had been chased and spied on in that area.
The community feels most oppressed by the presence of PT Nabire Baru and PT SAD Perkasa in the area with BRIMOB forces supporting them. He added that “the local government is indifferent overthe closure ofthe spaceexperienced bylocal residents and their inability to move freely around in their own local area.”
He is urging the Papuan Police to immediately withdraw their BRIMOB forces from the area of the oil palm companies, and called that the oil palm plantations of PT Nabire Baru in Wami, and PT SAD Perkasa in Sima in the Yaur District of Nabire should cease immediately.
The Writer is a pastoral worker in the diocese of Timika, Papua.
The 5,500 ton shipment was destined for Amurang in North Sulawesi, to be used as feedstock in a coal-fired power station there. The mining company mentioned in the article was PT Megapura Prima Indah.
According to the Lensa Papua article “Although the coal produced which is now being loaded into the ship with a weight of 5,500 tons is not yet super-high quality, it is strongly believed that the quality of this coal will increase in the future.”
Although Papua is not facing the same amount of threat from coal mining as East and Central Kalimantan, there are nevertheless several areas under active exploration. As well as around Sorong, there is a huge area from Bintuni and Teluk Wondama stretching to near Nabire, several areas around Sarmi and Waropen, plus significant amounts in Fakfak and Mimika Regencies, as well along a band where the southern lowlands meet the central mountains around Yahukimo. From the latest data awasMIFEE has been able to get hold of (a map of mining concessions up to 2012), there were 115 coal concessions covering a total area of more than 3.5 million hectares!
Of course the actual coal mines would be smaller than these exploration concessions, but nevertheless, it is clear that the coal industry in Papua could be considerable in the future. Just as with plantations, gold mining, and oil and gas, the potential for conflict and human rights violations associated with this industry is also impossible to ignore.
SKPKC Jayapura staff organised a meeting in the Juk-Lereh church which was attended by around 20 employees of PT Sinar Mas. The meeting was a response to the Taja parish priest Hendik Nahak’s request to address problems facing workers at Sinar Mas’s oil palm plantation.
Father Hendrik explained that there are quite a few problems that occur in the oil palm plantation, but they are covered up by the company. The problems relate to, for example, workers’ rights, recruitment, clean water and habitable accommodation. Father Hendrik’s explanation was confirmed by the workers present in the meeting. They made clear that these problems had been ongoing for some time and were frequently ignored by the company.
Problems that often arise include recruiting company workers by using supervisors who find the workers, making all sorts of enticing promises. People who want to work for the company are asked to sign agreements to accept all company decisions concerning their wages and other working conditions.
There are also problems concerning housing and clean water. The company brings new workers to the site without taking their accommodation needs into consideration, meaning that 3x3m2 houses are being inhabited by two or even three families. People have to rely on rainwater for their everyday clean water needs because the nearby river is polluted by fertilizer which is sprayed by aeroplane. Then when wages are paid, money is docked without explanation, meaning that quarrels sometimes break out between workers and supervisors.
A leader of the Yerisiam Ethnic Group in Nabire, on the north coast of West Papua, is once again calling for support and advocacy as two oil palm plantations move on to his people’s land. Simon Petrus Hanebora’s press release, as reported by Majalah Selangkah, is a forthright accusation against the companies, claiming they are clearing land without the necessary permissions, and against local government bodies, believing their complicity is due to corruption. It is also a cry for attention and support, as the Yerisiam people’s see their forest being
cut down around them, and left to rot on the ground.
Aside from the Merauke mega-project, the oil palm industry in Papua seems about to explode, as new land for plantations becomes harder to find in Sumatra and Kalimantan. Initial data collected by awas MIFEE indicates that companies are processing applications for new plantations in Keerom, Jayapura, Sarmi, Nabire, Serui, Bintuni, Sorong, Fak-fak, Kaimena, Timika and Boven Digoel as well as Merauke. It appears that in many of these cases, local indigenous people are not informed and their opposition disregarded, in a similar way to what is clearly happening in Nabire.
Shut Down Forest-Destroying Oil Palm Companies in Nabire!
“Oil palm companies in Nabire Regency must be shut down now!” exclaimed the head of the Yerisiam ethnic group, Simon Petrus Hanebora in a press release sent to Majalah Selangkah. He once again appealed for the developments affecting the Yerisiam ethnic group over the past year to be monitored. Two oil palm companies, PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri, have exploited and illegally logged the Yerisiam people’s customary land, with the local government turning a blind eye.
According to him, the effects of the two companies is already proving very worrying. “Wood, rattan and wildlife are cleared away or killed without any accountability,” he wrote in a press release sent to www.majalahselangkah.com. “And the plantation operations are fraught with problems. A conflict has broken out between people who are in favour and those who are against the plantation, forest tenure rights have not been obtained, and there is also the problem of the
Environmental Impact Assessment from the Papuan Provincial Environmental
Impact Management Agency. But the company’s operations carry on regardless,” he continued.
Areas that have been logged over include sacred sites and sago groves and reach right up to the shoreline. Thousands of commercially valuable cajuput trees and rattan have been abandoned and buried where they fell. However the two companies do always seek out ironwood or merbau (the most sought-after trees)
Letters to responsible institutions such as the Nabire District Representative Council, Nabire Forestry Service, Nabire Plantation Service, Papua Police Chief and Environmental Impact Management Agency have never been heeded, making it seem as if motives of private gain are lurking in the background.
“This is what makes us, the indigenous Yerisiam people, uncertain where next we should bring our grievances about this issue and stand up for our rights as indigenous people”, he wrote.
“We are circulating this press release so that the public can know what is going on and also to address the parties listed below, so that it can be followed up by a field investigation and advocacy. It is to remind people that the situation in the Yerisiam indigenous people’s land right now is very troubling.” wrote the tribal chief, showing his concern for the fate of his people and the land of their ancestors.
This was followed by a statement of demands on behalf of the Yerisiam people. The first demand was for the National Human Rights Commission from Jakarta, the Indonesian police chief, and associated bodies to carry out an investigation and advocacy around how the provincial and local governments, PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri have deviated from the law, and so must now be held accountable for the thousands of logs felled and abandoned.
Secondly, to ask the Corruption Elimination Commission to investigate the Merauke Regency Leader, Representative council, Forestry and Plantation Services, and the two companies, because there is evidence of bribery and dishonesty, and because it seems that these institutions are providing legitimacy for oil palm plantations which are causing many real problems for the Yerisiam people.
Thirdly, asking the leader of the Nabire District Representative Council, to leave his post before the 2014 general election, because it appears that PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri are being allowed to carry our underhand practices that cause suffering for the Yerisiam people, without any elected representatives that will speak out on their behalf. This is an indication that political interests are at play, whether they are looking for financial gain or to attract the votes of company workers in next year’s election.
“We really hope that relevant parties such as those noted above will try to find a positive solution for the Yerisiam people. It is bad enough that the people of Pravi in Manokwari, Papua Barat Province, have become victims of the oil palm industry. Don’t let the same thing happen to the Yerisiam people,” he said.
Approximately 55 kilometres on the West of Nabire region of Papua Province unfolds a large amount of forest that is owned by a large tribe called the Yerisiam. This tribe has 4 (four) sub tribes namely Wauha, Akaba, Karoba and Sarakwari. The area with tens of thousands hectares is situated at the shoreline of Cenderawasih Bay.
Apart from the sea, the forest has been the source of life for these four tribes from which they obtain sago, traditional medicine and it’s their hunting ground. There is also a sacred place believe to be the resting place of the spirits of their forefathers.
The situation changed since 1990-1991 when HPH (Forest Concession) Company, PT Sesco entered Wanggar and Yaro districts and took bars of Merbau wood. The chairperson of the Cooperative Society, Yunus Kegou, said that the company ended its operation in 2000 and left many broken promises.
“At that time, the company hadn’t paid Rp.40 million which is approximately A$3900 with the count of Rp.1000 per cubic meter with is equivalent to A$0.95. The request from the local which are 4 motors, 4 chainsaws and 1 vehicle for the locals to use hasn’t been paid till present,” said Kegou.
In 2003, three companies entered and established in this area, namely PT. Pakartioga, PT. Junindo and PT. Kalimanis (PT Jati Dharma Indah). Allegedly, these companies changed their names from PT. Sesco to PT. Pakartioga, and the HPH (forest concession holder) to the name PT. Junindo, and PT Jati Dharma Indah (JDI) to the the name PT. Kalimanis. In the HPH permit, the operating period of JDI ends on 2017, with the permit of operation on the West and East of the Nabire Region – a huge part of Cenderawasih Bay.
The presence of all these companies left many opaque stories. Their social responsibilities are negative, labourers were imported, and the experiences with transmigrant and the outsiders created conflicts not only with in the civilians but with the companies as well.
Erens Rumbobiar, the Chief of Makimi village situated on the eastern side of Nabire town, said that the conflicts with the locals occurred several times, and were the logging companies fault at that time. One of the cases that stimulated conflict was when Jordan and Paulus Ha’o permitted logging company PT. Barito to chop down the trees and turn them into logs, not knowing that the area is a customary land of Sefnat Monei. The conflict almost ended up in physical attacks (according to Customary Law) so the matter was taken to Didimus Warai’s residence, who as the Chief of Wate’s tribe, solved it. People that were present at that time represented their clan which were Utrech Inggeruhi, Simon Hanebora as a witness for Sefnat Monei, Nikanor Monei and Jordan Ha’o.
In 2007, JDI that had been permitted to operate till 2017 invited PT Harvest Raya Company from Korea to start the oil palm plantation in the region. The locals refused PT Harvest Raya because it is thought to be threatening their future and future of their generations. However, this refusal produced polemic within the Monei clan whereby Sefnat Monei as the owner of the customary land refused, but his children allowed the exploitation of the land to be carried out.
This time, PT. Nabire Baru (NB), another oil palm company entered and settled in two of the villages in Yaur District of Nabire Region namely Sima and Wami village. This concession is located with the Northern side bordered by the ocean of Cenderawasih Bay, and the Southern side bordered by the JDI production forest and Wami village. The western side borders the road connecting Nabire – Wasior and also PT. Sariwarna Adiperkasa HPH, and the Eastern side of the area borders the production forest, Jaya Mukti village, and Wanggar River.
The company is said by local villagers to be building communication with the local people in the area which led up to a thanksgiving at the early 2010. Traditional prayer was carried out as a start of the business and the compensation of the land was agreed as Rp.6, 000,000,000 which is equivalent to A$600,000. This agreement is said to be completed without the involvement of JDI.
Afterwards, several individuals persuaded Nabire Regional Government to issue new permits. After the thanksgiving, the people demanded the government solve the HPH land issue so it doesn’t interfere with the oil palm plantation. Eventually local people were driven by few individuals sign a petition on a piece of white cloth, and took it to the Parliament office in Nabire with the hopes that the issue of the location is solved.
The reason was that JDI has long left the area and there was no communication with the indigenous people even though the permit HPH is still valid. At that time, Benyamin Karet the Setda (Regional Secretariat) for Nabire Region, said that the status of the area of 17,000 hectares was problematic because it’s still owned by PHP JDI. That area itself had not been plotted for oil palm plantation, but driven by the persuasion of the indigenous people, Nabire Regional Government issued a permit in the form of the Regent’s decision. The principle of the cultivation permit is that the funding is issued by an Investor’s Agency on 21 of September 2010.
Nabire Regent Isaias Douw, said the indigenous people admitted that the location is safe and can be used NB. “There had been a conversation between the company and the indigenous people and had been an agreement with the locals. Therefore, we issued a permit to the investor because the locals demanded,” he said.
However, the Regional Government knew there would be a problem with JDI, they therefore asked the locals and NB to solve the problematic location with the companies PHP. At that time, the activists blamed NB and JDI as if they deliberately stirred up the conflict in deceiving the locals of taking merbau wood from their area.
NB Consultant, PT Widya Cipta Buana, led by Iwan Setyawan, at the public consultation analysis in regards to the environmental impact (AMDAL) in early May 2013, explained in Sima Village that the company “is based on the Environmental Act, Government’s rules and policies, and even the rules and policies of the Minister of Environment Number 16 and 17 of 2012 concerning the Guidelines for community involvement in the EIA (Environment Impact Assessment), and an environment permit process. “From the legal perspective, the company has feasibility to carry out the activities”.
NB started the business in 2011 and recruited more than 1250 labours. In 2012, the company applied for the extension of the permit (which was granted via the) Regent’s decree number 71 2012 dated 24th of July 2012 about extending the location permit. The trees were then chopped down and turn into logs, and were taken out of Nabire, when the owner of the land protested.
The data collected by Mongabay, shows from the permit of 17,000 hectares, the area that was cultivated were 12.438,77 hectares including the conduit and the path in the garden and the cultivated area of 10.758.00 hectares. The rest include 1.851.88 hectares of the beach, 1.957.38 hectares of the river, 688,32 hectares of hills and the sacred places, 63,69 hectares of sago plantation and the nursery of 224,82 hectares. In 2013, the plan to cultivate is approximately 2.500 hectares, 4.500 hectares will be in 2014 and around 3.428 hectares will be in 2015. The factory will be built around 2015 with the processing capacity of 90 tonnes an hour.
Mr Kim, the owner of the company, claimed that he has been given the permit for 200,000 hectares of land and 20 other companies in Nabire Region and the surroundings, including several gold companies in Topo and Batu Bara area at the Eastern part of Nabire. Kim didn’t mention the details of all the companies that he owns.