September 4, 2013
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.
English translation + introduction: https://awasmifee.potager.org/?p=551
- Oil Palm Plantations in Nabire Ignore Indigenous Rights (westpapuamedia.info)
- MIFEE: People of Woboyu Traumatised by Gunshots / Continuing Opposition to Plantations (westpapuamedia.info)
- Reports from Actions in Sorong and Merauke (freedomflotillawestpapua.org)
- Share Mysterious Murder Continues to Happen in Papua on September 6, 2013 (witnesseshometownwpng.wordpress.com)
- Forum to Care for Papua’s Natural Resources Opposes ConocoPhillips Seismic Testing in Boven Digoel (westpapuamedia.info)
- Indigenous communities in W Papua hungry & in poverty (asopa.typepad.com)
- MIFEE: Indonesian agroindustrial project causes starvation and poverty (eco-business.com)