Tag Archives: oil palm

AwasMIFEE: New companies threatening the Papuan forest: Number 1 Pacific Inter-link.

By AwasMIFEE

First Published: JUNE 12, 2016

There is currently some momentum for change in the palm oil industry, aiming to reduce its disastrous environmental and social impact. In Papua, some of the biggest companies, such as Sinar Mas, Musim Mas and Wilmar, have all abandoned plantation plans after signing up to ‘no deforestation’ policies (see footnote 1).  The Indonesian Government may also finally take some action to bring the industry under control. A new moratorium on palm oil permits is reportedly being prepared and the Forestry and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya has made clear that one of the moratorium’s main objectives is to save Papua’s forest.

However, many companies with ambitions to vastly increase their plantation area are still looking to Papua as one of the few areas where large amounts of land are still potentially available. Plantations on this new frontier are often much larger than elsewhere in Indonesia, meaning huge environmental destruction and drastic changes which have a devastating effect on local indigenous populations.

Accurate information on how the oil palm industry is developing in Papua is crucial to be able to assess whether the changes in the industry will actually protect the forest and make a positive difference to the lives of indigenous Papuans, or if it will just give a better image masking the same old problems. Nevertheless, obtaining full data is still a major challenge. This series of articles aims to give it a shot, profiling a few of the newest companies to start operations in Papua, especially companies which have recently started cutting the forest, or appear to be preparing to start work. The first is a particularly worrying case, where forest clearance started last year: Pacific Inter-link.

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Anggai

In a remote area of Southern Papua an immense block of 2,800 square kilometres (the size of Luxembourg, or three times Singapore) of primary rainforest has been given permits for oil palm, and deforestation has already started. In an incredibly brazen move by local politicians, (later supported by the Forestry Ministry), this whole area was given away to just one company, the Menara Group, divided into seven contiguous concessions.

The Menara Group has since sold most of the concessions to two Malaysian-based companies: Pacific Inter-link took four of the concessions (PT Megakarya Jaya Raya, PT Kartika Cipta Pratama, PT Graha Kencana Mulia and PT Energi Samudera Kencana) and Tadmax Sdn Bhd took two (PT Trimegah Karya Utama and PT Manunggal Sukses Mandiri). The remaining concession, PT Usaha Nabati Terpadu, either still belongs to the Menara Group or has been sold to an unknown buyer.

Pacific Inter-link started work on one of the concessions, PT Megakarya Jaya Raya in mid 2015. Satellite images show that by April 2016, 2,840 hectares of forest had been cleared. About one third of that area was on deep peat, and the area lies within an intact forest landscape. Most of PT Megakarya Jaya Raya’s concession is classified on Indonesian government maps as primary forest, as are the other three concessions.

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Pacific Inter-Link Deforestation April 2016

It isn’t easy to greenwash the conversion of 160,000 hectares of primary rainforest to palm oil plantation. Nevertheless, Pacific Inter-link makes a lame attempt to do just that on its website, stating that “Lots of careful measures are taken to ensure no ecological damage takes place due to this project.” The company did not respond to a request to view high conservation value assessments or social and environmental impact assessment.

How did one company manage to get its hands on so much land? There are no local groups in this remote area which have been able to undertake a full investigation. However, corruption must be suspected. The Boven Digoel Regency Head, Yusak Yaluwo, issued the initial location permits in July 2010, three months after being arrested on unrelated corruption charges. He was found guilty in November that year, and declared non-active by the interior minister. Nevertheless, despite being imprisoned in Sukamiskin Prison, Bandung, there were frequent allegations that Yusak Yaluwo was continuing to run the Boven Digoel government from his prison cell by mobile phone. He was officially removed from his post in May 2013, but wasn’t formally replaced by his deputy until June 2014. The upshot of this bizarre story is that there was no effective local government in Boven Digoel for three and a half years, the time which the Menara Group was engaged in the permit process for the plantations which would later be sold to Pacific Inter-link.

At the same time in the Aru Islands in Maluku, the Menara Group had tried to claim an even larger area for a sugar-cane plantation. However, as a strong local campaign was unearthing irregularities at every level, the Forestry Minister eventually declared that the plantation would not go ahead, giving the reason that the land was not suitable for sugar cane after all.

The land which is being cleared is near an indigenous village, Kampung Anggai, but there have been no reports of how the local people view the company, nor what methods the company used to persuade people to allow it to use their land.

Tadmax, the other company involved, has so far not developed its concessions, claiming to be looking for a partner, or to sell the land. Its 2015 Annual report states that “the Group is in the process of identifying parties to undertake a plantation development (both on its own or through joint ventures) and/or outright disposal of all or part of the land or a combination of the above. “

Previously both Pacific Inter-link and Tadmax had signed up to a joint venture in 2012 for an integrated timber complex which would use the wood from their concessions, but there is no recent news that might indicate the plan is still going ahead.

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Anggai plantation 2

Pacific Inter-link is based in Malaysia, but is part of the privately-owned Yemeni conglomerate, the Hayel Sayed Anam Group. Its plantation in Boven Digoel is the company’s first, but palm oil has long been part of its core business and the company has a presence at almost all levels of the industry. It operates refineries on Sumatra, is a trader of crude palm oil which it buys from other plantation companies, and markets consumer goods produced from palm oil under a number of brand names: Avena, Madina, Pamin and Sheeba cooking oils, Saba Juliet and Meditwist Soap and Milgro milk products. As well as South East Asia, Pacific Inter-links products are marketed in the Middle East and Africa, where its brands have a dominant market position.

This high degree of vertical integration in its supply chain insulates Pacific Inter-link from the pressures on other palm oil producers, which have to contend with the possibility that if they continue to deforest, their product may be boycotted by several of the largest palm oil traders.

However, the concessions have caught the eye of Forestry and Environment Minister Siti Nurbaya. In an interview with foresthints.news she described how existing palm oil permits will be reviewed in preparation for a moratorium, “Several of our findings indicate that in areas where forest release permits have been granted since 2011 in Papua, nothing has been done there and they are simply landbanks. We even found that some of these permits have been traded. For example, seven forest release permits for palm oil development in that province [Papua], amounting to almost 300 thousand hectares, were sold to a number of business groups in Malaysia. This practice of trading involves 20 percent of the areas that should be given to communities.”

Pacific Inter-link is an RSPO member as a trading and processing company, but has not mentioned the existence of its plantations in any submissions to the RSPO. Neither has the company responded to requests for information from awasMIFEE.

The situation is extremely alarming: what is likely to be the largest single palm oil plantation development project ever to take place in Indonesia is happening in an area of primary rainforest, containing peat swamps, and with no information whatsoever on how the plantation is affecting the tribes living in one of the remotest areas of Papua. A large area has been cleared already, but this is still only so far only 1% of the total areas under permit. Serious and immediate attention is needed on how the Menara Group, and subsequently Pacific Inter-link managed to get control of such a large area, and it needs to be held to account on its potentially devastating social and environmental impact.

Footnote: 1: in the case of Wilmar, the abandoned plantations would have planted sugar-cane.

Marap Indigenous Group claim back three oil palm plantation divisions in Arso

from our parters at SuaraPapua.com

translated by AwasMifee

tiga-lokasi-perkebunan-sawit-di-arso-di-tarik-kembali-oleh-masyarakat-adat-suku-marapIndigenous land owners from the Marap people in Arso have used customary law to take back oil palm land owned by PT PN II as part of its Arso plantation, specifically the Core III, Core IV and Core V divisions. The action took place at Yamara village PIR 3, Manem sub-district, Keerom Regency, on Wednesday 27th April.

Maickel Fatagur, the head of the Fatagur clan which holds customary land rights, alongside other clans such as the Wabiager and Gumis clans, said that they will no longer hold any kind of meetings with the company. That is because they have used customary law to take back the land PTPN was using.

“We’e used customary law to take the land back. That means now there will be no more meetings with the company. The land now belongs to us. We invite PTPN II Arso to take back its oil palm and we will take back our land. That’s all”, Fatagur made clear to the Manager of PTPN II’s Arso plantation on Wednesday at Tami in Manem District, in Keerom.

According to Maickel, PTPN II has operated the Arso plantation on the Fatagur clan’s land, and that of its sub-clans, for around 30 years, but the local community, who hold the customary land rights, have never felt economically secure

“All these years attention has never been paid to the wellbeing of the community who hold the customary land rights on the land used by PTPN II Arso at the three locations in question, Core III, Core IV and Core V, which amount to 1300 hectares”, said Fatagur.

Dominika Tafor, the secretary of the Boda Student Association (Himpunan Mahasiswa Boda) in Keerom who is also an indigenous member of the Marap ethnic group, said that she was supporting the action taken by local indigenous people.

“We strongly support the action which the Marap community of Workwama village are taking today. We support it, because for so many years the company has not paid attention to the fate of the community. They only come to destroy”, she said.

When the indigenous people arrived at the plantation office in Tami, PTPN II’s Arso plantation manager, Hilarius Manurung, recieved them and said that he would take their wishes on board and pass them on to the Keerom local government.

“Since we’re a state owned company, we can only listen to all aspirations and complaints and pass them on to the local government for further action. There’s not much we can do. What we can do is to follow up all these complaints from the community,” said Manurung.

Suarapapua.com observed that security forces from the Keerom police headquarters were present, 11 armed policemen in a Dalmas truck, ready to police the Marap people’s action.

The action started from Workwama village at 9-00 am and travelled by truck the 6km to the plantation areas Core III – Core V, bringing a banner which read “we don’t need oil palm, we only need forest #savehutanpapua #savehutankeerom for our grandchildren”

As a symbol, the indigenous people brought soil from the three oil palm locations and taro yams from their gardens, placing them in a noken string bag made from forest palm frond midribs, and using traditional rituals took them to PTPN II’s office located in the plantation administration centre in Tami.

 HARUN RUMBARAR

Source: suarapapua.com http://suarapapua.com//read/2016/04/27/3305/tiga-lokasi-perkebunan-sawit-di-arso-di-tarik-kembali-oleh-masyarakat-adat-suku-marap

This entry was posted in Around West Papua and tagged , , ,

New film ‘The Mahuzes’, documents conflicts between indigenous Merauke people and agribusiness

from our partners at AwasMIFEE

First Published: February 20, 2016

‘The Mahuzes’, a film about conflicts between indigenous people and agribusiness companies in Merauke, was released in Indonesian last year, and now it is available with English subtitles. It’s one of a series of documentaries produced as part of the ‘Ekspedisi Indonesia Biru’, a one-year road-trip on motorbikes by filmmakers Dandhy Laksono and Ucok Suparta, visiting diverse communities around the archipelago, often communities in struggle.

The Mahuzes follows one clan of Marind people in Muting village, where oil palm companies have started clearing land in the last few years on five massive plantations. The effects of these plantations are having a major impact – even the water from the Bian River has become undrinkable. The Mahuze clan is resisting – refusing to sell their land, erecting customary barriers to forbid the company from entering – but the company (PT Agriprima Persada Mulia) just pulls up their boundary markers. As well as these direct conflicts with the plantation companies, we see how they attempt to deal with the conflicts that inevitably arise when irresponsible companies show up with compensation money – there is an emotional peacemaking ceremony between the Marind and the neighbouring Mandodo people, but also anger in meetings that some elders in their own clan may have struck a secret deal with the company.

The Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate was originally launched as a massive industrial agriculture project in 2010, but it failed to reach the stated ambition in its original plan, and the cluster of oil palm plantations around Muting were some of the only developments that have actually started work in the last years. However, in May 2015 President Joko Widodo travelled to Merauke to relaunch the plan to convert over a million hectares of forest and savannah to mechanised rice production. The filmmakers also visit the site of the new rice development, revealing that once again the central government is ordering a mega project without due consideration of the local social and environmental conditions. One issue is the water – Irawan, who works for the water provider, explains that most of the water in the flat Kurik sub-district comes from rainfall. How could these conditions possibly support huge areas of irrigated rice-fields?

The Marind people’s staple food is sago, and sago palms grow abundantly in groves in the forest. As Darius Nerob explains in the film “If we plant rice, it’s 6 months before we can eat. But with sago, any day we need, we can just go and fell a tree… This tree can feed a family for half a year…. Even though the transmigrant program has existed for 33 years, Marind people have stuck with sago, they haven’t shifted to rice.”

Oil Palm companies in Nabire using Brimob to terrorise local villagers

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.

Joint Brimob/TNI sweep team in Nabire oil Palm plantations. Photo:FIle
Joint Brimob/TNI sweep team in Nabire oil Palm plantations. Photo:FIle

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 over the closure of the space experienced by local 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.

Trial starts for two people arrested on demonstration at PT Permata Putera Mandiri’s offfice.

from our partners at AwasMIFEE

first 

Aksi-PT.PPM-1On 15th May this year, dozens of students and others from the Iwaro ethnic group from Metamani and Inanwatan in South Sorong Regency, staged a protest action with banners and speeches, blocking the offices of oil palm company PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM), on Jalan Ahmad Yani, Sorong City, West Papua Province.

According to Simon Soren, one of the participants on the action, “the people were demanding that PT PPM offer a solution to the problems of land grabbing, the destruction of the forest and sago groves, illegal logging and an unfair level of compensation, and indications that illegal exploration for oil and gas were also taking place”.

The company refused to meet with the demonstrators, and then police from the Sorong City station, who were already present at the area, broke up the action and arrested dozens of participants. After questioning, several detainees were released little by little, until eventually only two people were being held: Obed Korie and Odie Aitago from Puragi village, Metamani District, South Sorong.

On 14th July 2014, Obed Korie and Odie Aitago attended the first session of their court process at the Sorong District Court, where the prosecution read out the accusations. According to Loury Dacosta, their legal support who attended that session, “Prosecutor Ola Dimara read out the accusations which formed the basis of charging the two people under article 170 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, which refers to violence towards persons or property, and carries a threat of a five year prison sentence”.

Justice appears to be very distant for the victims of PT PPM: the company has not met their demands, and now on the contrary the victims of development are criminalised by the government.

The ANJ Group’s business in South Sorong

PT PPM is a subsidiary company of PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya (ANJ) Group, owned by business tycoon George Tahija. ANJ also owns two other oil palm plantations in South Sorong and nearby Maybrat, PT Putera Manunggal Perkasa (PMP and PT Pusaka Agro Makmur (PAM). The ANJ Group also owns PT ANJ Agri Papua which is engaged in exploiting sago forests and in the sago processing industry, with operations between Metamani and Kokoda districts in South Sorong.

Before being acquired by the ANJ Group, the three oil palm companies were believed to be owned by Jakarta-based PT Pusaka Agro Sejahtera with the majority of the shares held by foreign companies (most likely offshore holding companies). 90% of the shares in PT PPM were owned by Xinfeng Pte Ltd, and 90% of PT PMP was owned by Xinyou Plantation Pte Ltd, both based at the same address at 30 Cecil St, Singapore. In January 2014, these shares were transferred to the AnJ Group. PT PAM, whose shares were registered in the name of another Singapore-based company Wodi Kaifa Ltd, was acquired by the ANJ Group in October 2014.

The company obtained the land for their plantations through mechanisms based on Indonesian state law, ignoring local customary law mechanisms. This actually contravenes the provisions of the 2001 law concerning special autonomy for Papua, which state that if any party requires access to customary land, a meeting of indigenous people must take place to reach a consensus decision before any permits to operate or land title may be granted.

Local indigenous people, who actually have control and title over the land and forest are never involved in land acquisition, including in this case involving PT ANJ. The process of land acquisition takes place furtively and without transparency, with police and military involvement, and without the community having the opportunity to understand or find out what the wider impacts of forest clearance might be.

Land acquisition and compensation documents reveal that the average compensation paid is 75,000 Rupiah per hectare (US$6), with a stipulation that the land will be used for the duration of the company’s operational permit, 35 years. This amount is extremely unfair if compared to the benefits the community would otherwise obtain from forest products in the area. The company on the other hand, will receive huge profits from its exploitation of forest products and large-scale land management.

Source: http://pusaka.or.id/demo-menuntut-pt-ppm-dua-warga-dipidanakan/