Tag Archives: Merauke Regency

MIFEE: Latest News Reports

via AWASMifee

January 7, 2013

Representatives of the Lembaga Masyarakat Adat (Customary People’s Association), together with other people affected by the MIFEE mega-agriculture project, made a visit to Papuan provincial capital Jayapura just before Christmas. In meetings with Papuan media, they explained the new problems local communities in the Merauke Area are facing as different companies rush to develop oil palm and sugar cane plantations.

Here is a selection of articles published in local media Tabloid Jubi and Alliance for Democracy In Papua(ALDP).  Amongst the issues the delegation raises are the companies’ broken promises about the facilities they said they would provide or the compensation for the land, pollution, lack of information about the legal status of the land and coercive behaviour from the military that back up the companies.
When they have accepted work in exchange for giving up their forests, wages have been too low to provide for daily needs. They also ask for all company permits to be revoked, as local people have not been involved in decisions about development.

Company’s promise to build education facilities were lies.

Source: http://www.aldp-papua.com/?p=8009

A company’s promise to build health and education facilities for local land owners around its investment site in Muting, Elkobel and Ulilin districts in Merauke Regency, has still not come to fruition.  “It was all lies, we’ve waited until now but there has been no answer. Blueprints have been drawn up, but they remain no more than sketches,” said the head of the Malind Bian Customary People’s Association (Lembaga Masyarakat Adat LMA), Sebastianus Ndiken in Jayapura last Friday.

According to him, when the company was informing the indigenous clans that own the land in Muting District of its plans some time ago, they had promised employment and also to improve education, including giving scholarships to local youth. “We have already asked when this will be, but the company has said not yet, we have no idea when it will actually happen, but they have been operating on our land for some time,” he said.

Mr. Ndiken related that one of the companies operating in Muting is PT Agriprima Cipta Persada (ACP) After about four months of operation, we are starting to see logging of the people’s forests in the area. “Look, here’s the plans I’ve brought with me. It shows plans for a school. The plans are well-drawn, but the school has never materialised,” he repeated.

Amongst the big companies that are developing oil-palm plantations in Merauke are PT Korindo Tunas Sawaerma, PT Bio Inti Agrindo, PT Berkat Cipta Abadi and PT Papua Agro Lestari.

When they move in, the companies say they are only borrowing the land on a 35 year contract, and after that it will return to its owners. “We believed that. But now we have found out that one oil palm company, PT Bio Inti Agrindo, has already obtained a permit for commercial use (HGU). We realised that in principle, HGU rights mean that after 35 years of commercial use the land will be returned to the state. To us this means that the company has failed to settle the issue of our customary rights as the true owners of the land”, he explained.

He is asking for the company to immediately fulfil it’s promises. “We don’t want problems, don’t let what happened in Mesuji occur in the land of Malind Anim. [awasMIFEE note: at least nine farmers, maybe more, have been killed in clashes with oil palm companies in the Mesuji area of Sumatra in the last two years]. We want progress, but progress that doesn’t deceive the people”, he concluded.

The most recent data from the Merauke government was that 10 of the 46 companies with investment plans were actively pursuing their operations in early 2012.

The project location is the local indigenous people’s only source of wood, animals and staple foods. Merauke Regency covers 4.7 million hectares, of which 95.3 percent is classified as forest.

Customary People’s Association wants big companies out of Merauke.
Source: http://www.aldp-papua.com/?p=8004

The Malind Bian Customary People’s Association (LMA) has requested the government to revoke and cancel all location permits of companies in the plantation sector in Merauke Regency, including oil palm.

“We have witnessed ourselves how companies are felling our customary forests that we have always protected and looked after. Destroying the forest has also caused the loss of several varieties of traditional medicine,” said the head of the Malind Bian LMA Sebastianus Ndiken on Friday.

He told of how it is becoming increasingly difficult for people to find sago, animals to hunt, materials for traditional clothing and other traditional items that had previously been found easily in the forest. For them, the damage to the customary forest is also the loss of the Malind Anim culture.

“Companies come to the village but never give us full, clear and true information. The company also doesn’t involve indigenous people and landowners from the outset. Similarly, information about regulations and permits is not given openly,  clearly and in detail, including information about the potential impacts to our  customary land that could arise from those company permits”, he said.

There has never been full involvement of all clans in the process of informing about plans, consultation and verification of which clans own which land, Mr. Ndiken continued. The company only talks to the clan chiefs and community leaders, including district government officials, so the customary lands can be evicted and destroyed. The kind of involvement the LMA would like to see would include attending the process of compiling environmental impact assessments, and consultations and evaluations about those environmental impact assessments.

“The LMA which is comprised of representatives of indigenous communities, has frankly not been involved. Neither have landowners whose land has not yet been evicted and destroyed. This means that not all our desires and aspirations have been properly conveyed”, he said.

According to him, the government, which should have a duty and obligation to protect, respect and advance the people’s rights, is not on the side of the indigenous landowners.

Amongst the large companies operating in the oil palm sector in Merauke are PT Korindo Tunas Sawaerma, PT Bio Inti Agrindo, PT Berkat Cipta Abadi and PT Papua Agro Lestari.

When the companies moved in, the government said that customary land would only be borrowed for 35 years and then returned to its owners. “We believed that. But now we have been told that one oil palm company operating on our land, PT Bio Inti Agrindo, has obtained a permit giving the company commercial use rights (HGU). We realised that in principle, HGU rights mean that land is returned to the state after 35 years of commercial use. To us this means that the company has failed to settle the issue of our customary rights as the true owners of the land”, he
explained.

He also said that this means that the company has deliberately deceived and disregarded the people and erased their customary rights by gaining agreement for commercial use rights. “So we must make clear that if the company wishes to continue using customary land then it must ask for our agreement as landowners and must ensure that the land will be returned to the clans that are the customary landowners once the company’s tenure is finished”, Mr Ndiken said.

He said that the LMA is also demanding the immediate cancellation of all location permits on customary land. The companies must also take responsibility for restoring the forest and giving compensation to people along the Bian river as far as Kaptel. “The government also needs to take action and start tackling the disruption and environmental pollution that the company’s activities have caused.

Yeinan People Reject Oil Palm Company
Source: http://tabloidjubi.com/?p=7652

The Yeinan ethnic group in Merauke Regency, Papua, reject the oil palm company which wishes to operate in their area. This oil palm company is part of the Wilmar Group.

A Yeinan man, David Dagjiay, said to reporters in Abepura on Friday (21/12) that he was currently negotiating with PT Wilmar Group that are trying to start an oil palm plantation in the Yeinan area. “We are still trying to agree some trade-off where we could agree to the company’s presence. On the whole people reject oil palm companies”, he said.

PT. Wilmar Group plans to plant 40,000 hectares with oil palm. However, until now they have not commenced clearing because local landowners have not agreed to surrender their lands. According to David, the Yeinan people inhabit six villages: Poo, Torai, Erambu, Kweel, Bupul and Tanas.  “Out of these six villages, two have agreed to release their land to the company. The other four have not yet agreed”, he stated.

The people don’t want to be lied to. The Malind people have learnt from the  experience of oil palm companies already operating on Malind Anim lands in Merauke. Now they (the Malind Anim people, which includes the Yeinan), are suffering as a consequence of oil palm. They have lost their livelihoods. It is difficult to hunt deer in a forest when the trees have all been cut down by the company. People can also not consume river water nearby because it is contaminated by waste from the oil palm company.

David stated that there was already one company operating in Yeinan, PT Hardaya, which is planting sugarcane. “For us, one company is enough, no need for any more. We accepted the sugar cane company because sugar cane does not need a long time to grow. Oil palm on the other hand, needs a long time. Then it depletes the land leaving it barren and dry”, he said.

State Security Forces are still backing up companies in Merauke.
Source: http://www.aldp-papua.com/?p=8037

To secure logging areas in Merauke Regency, several companies are using the services of Indonesian state security forces.

“And that’s been kept secret, and we want to let people know that. They are involved from the moment when plans are first presented to the people right up until the development starts in the field”, said Paustinus Ndiken, the Secretary of Malind Bian Customary People’s Association in Jayapura.

According to him, the involvement of security forces personnel has meant that it has been easier for the companies to persuade people to surrender their land. “There have been times when they have also been there asking the people to give their land over to the companies, a prominent community member was once even beaten up while the company was presenting its plans. The situation was tense at that moment, I don’t know why, and then a customary leader was suddenly struck by a member of the security forces”, he stated.

He added that the people didn’t agree with police or military intervention in the process of discussions to transfer land rights. “If they want to keep the area secure, fair enough, but don’t get involved in this process – that’s the business of  customary landowners, the government and the companies and no-one else”, he said.

The head of the Malind Bian LMA, Sebastianus Ndiken said that the companies had contracted their land at low prices. In 2007, land was released for 50,000 rupiah per hectare ($6), later it rose to 70,000 Rupiah ($8) and is now 350,000 rupiah per hectare ($40). “We are being very strongly affected. We demand the price rise to 5,000,000 rupiah per hectare ($600). But the company doesn’t agree”, he related.

He also said that the companies had promised to build health and education facilities. “But these agreements have not been met, promises are still just promises”, he said.

David Dagijay, a Yeinan man from Merauke, said that the Malind Anim people do not want to be lied to. “We doubt that the company will ever build a school. Meanwhile, the land contract lasts for 35 years. Don’t let it become the company’s property after that”, he concluded.

The Yeinan area includes Toray, Poo, Erambu, Tanas and Kweel villages.  Yeinan is part of the larger Malind Anim ethnic group.

Workers Frustrated because wages are insufficient.
Source: http://www.aldp-papua.com/?p=8047

Hundreds of employees of PT Berkat Cipta Abadi in Merauke are frustrated because the company is not paying a fair wage for the work they are doing.  Employees are working for a daily wage of 62,000 Rupiah ($6.40).

“That is extremely low, while we are working in the heat. We ask for wages to rise to 80,000 or 100,000 rupiah a day”, said Melkias Masik-Basik, an employee of Berkat Cipta Abadi, in Jayapura.

He said that he has been working in the tree nursery for six months, without being absent a single day. “But it’s physical work. Yeah, this is money we would use for our daily needs”, said the 27-year-old man.

According to him, the company should pay the wages that have been established by law. Only receiving 60,000 a day means that Melkias gets on average 1.8 Million Rupiah a month ($190). If compared with what the company management recieves, it is far less. “That’s what is so frustrating for us, we want a raise”, he said.

PT Berkat Cipta Abadi (BCA) is involved in the oil palm plantation business. Apart from BCA, PT Korindo Tunas Sawaerma, PT Bio Inti Agrindo and PT Papua Agro Lestari are also operational. For Example PT Korindo puts thousands of people to work on oil palm plantations covering tens of thousands of hectares. Korindo is a joint venture between Korea and Indonesia which controls land between Boven Digoel and Merauke Regencies [awasMIFEE note: PT Berkat Cipta Abadi is also a subsidiary company of Korindo].

Neles Tuwong, an activist with the Justice and Peace Secretariat of Merauke Diocese adds that it is the company’s responsibility to provide security for its workers. “This on its own is a problem which must be overcome. I believe that landowners should be getting a bigger share”.

Take Care of Our Rivers and Give Us Back our Land

Sawit Watch / SKP KAMe

Press Release

December 20, 2012

West Papua’s natural resources are being exploited by extractive industries, especially around Merauke. When it was launched in August 2010, the MIFEE mega-project was described as an initiative to meet the world’s food needs, a response to the world food crisis. As well as this, there are the current global concerns that the diminishing reserves of fossil fuel globally are bringing about a energy crisis.

https://i1.wp.com/sawitwatch.or.id/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Sawit-Papua.jpg

With an area of over 1.2 million hectare earmarked for the project, the Merauke Regency Government hoped to turn Merauke into a centre of urban agriculture, agribusiness and agrotourism. Many companies welcomed the government’s offer and saw it as a great opportunity to expand their operations in eastern Indonesia. Merauke Regency’s Investment Planning Board (Badan Perencanaan Investasi Daerah or BAPINDA) has recorded that 46 companes have obtained permits, and some of which have already commenced operations. (data from Bapinda, September 2012).

The extent of concessions for large-scale oil-palm plantations in Indonesia currently exceeds 11.5 million hectares (Sawit Watch, 2011), stretching over all of Indonesia’s island groups both large and small, from Sabang at the westernmost tip of Aceh, to Merauke in South-East Papua.  The first palm-oil plantation in Merauke was started in 1997 by Pt Tunas Sawa Erma, a subsidiary of the Korindo Group. There are currently six oil palm plantation companies which have begun operations on Malind Anim land in Merauke: PT Dongin Prabhawa (Korindo Group), PT Bio Inti Agrindo (Korindo Group) [awasMIFEE note: PT Bio Inti Agrindo was actually bought by Daewoo International in 2011, and still belongs
to that company as far as we know], PT Central Cipta Murdaya (CCM), PT Agriprima Cipta Persada, PT Hardaya Sawit Papua and PT Berkat Citra Abadi (Korindo Group). Hundreds of thousands of hectares of indigenous people’s land will be appropriated, the forest destroyed and replaced with large-scale oil palm plantations.

Oil-palm plantations along the shores of the Bian and Maro Rivers have already brought serious problems for the indigenous people and clans that live in the area and own the land.  Oil-palm companies have been clearing land by burning, which has polluted water in the rivers and swamps, damaged and wiped out cultural sites and caused irreplaceable damage to the natural environment.  This is aggravated by a lack of information about companies’ status and plans, wrongful identification
of which clans own or have rights over which land, insufficient payment of compensation and deception and manipulation of data.  As a result the clans and tribes living along the Maro and Bian rivers have been dispossessed of their customary lands.

On the 31st July2011, 13 civil society organisations signed and delivered a letter to the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discriminaton (CERD), accusing the MIFEE Mega-Project of bringing about the destruction of indigenous societies in Papua and in Merauke in particular.  A response to this letter was received from Anwar Kemal, Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimnation of Racial Discrimination, on the 2nd September 2011.  It requested that the Indonesian Government, which became a party to the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1965 when it ratified Law number 29 of 1999, to give a swift response and clarification before 31st January 2012.   Until now, the government has still not given its response. The government is showing neglect and disregard and it’s not for the first time – previously in 2007 they had planned to fell the forest along the whole Indonesia-Malaysia border for oil palm plantations.

Seeing the conditions that indigenous communities in the villages along the Bian and Maro rivers are currently facing, with their land already allocated to large scale oil palm plantation concessions, we strongly advocate the following:

1. Companies must be responsible and make restorations, as well as giving compensation to people living along the Bian River as far as Kaptel and the Maro River for the environmental damage and pollution caused by oil palm plantation operations.

2. The government must carry out a review and evaluation of the permits which have been given to oil palm plantations on indigenous land belonging to the clans and tribes which live in Merauke Regency, revoke and cancel location permits and withdraw all commercial cultivation rights from customary lands in Merauke Regency.

3. The government must stop issuing new permits in Merauke Regency before all current problems are resolved, as well as repairing the damage that has already been done to the various communities.

4. As a party which has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1965 through Law number 29 of 1999, the government must immediately respond to the Chairperson of the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination Anwar Kemal’s letter dated 2nd  September 2011 (which was a response to the concerns raised to the UN CERD on 31st July 2011).

Source: Sawit Watch http://sawitwatch.or.id/2012/12/1047/
Translated and posted on awasMIFEE: https://awasmifee.potager.org/?p=302

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