“We call it the Golden Triangle because it is the land we have always lived from, until now. We can use the wood, go fishing in the river, and there are also sacred places there,” said Cleman Nouyagir, in a meeting in the Arso deanery. (06/05/2014)
The meeting discussed the Keerom Regency head’s Decision Document SK 93/2013 dated 5th September 2013 which awarded PT Victory Cemerlang Indonesia Wood Industries a location permit for a 4885 hectare oil palm plantation in East Arso district, Keerom Regency.
“All of our forest has been destroyed, we have handed it all over. There’s just a little bit left for our grandchildren, so I would put my life on the line for it”, he stated firmly.
Clemen and the other participants in the meeting were agreed that land that had previously been taken and turned into oil palm plantations had not brought any positive impacts for the people of Keerom.
He continued, “When we talk about Keerom we are not only talking about Arso City, but also people in Workwana and Wambes, all of them should be aware and protect what is left of our land”.
According to him, the people in Workwana and Wambes should be wary of being talked into accepting outside investors’ plantation plans because they would lose their main source of livelihood.
The term ‘Golden Triangle’ emerged in a mapping exercise which was originally conceived in 1992 an eventually finished in 2004 when a mutually-agreed map was produced. This map became a reference when designing the map of Keerom regency, which decided that the area should be designated protected forest. The land is owned by the indigenous people of Workwana, Wambes and Arso City.
“I was involved in making that map before and that land is protected forest and the source of our livelihood. The government should know this already, which means they shouldn’t be giving out permits,” he said.
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.
The leader of the Merauke District Legislative Council (DPRD), Leonardus Mahuze, says that PT Selaras Inti Semesta, a company logging forest owned by the people of Senegi village in Okaba district, has not fulfilled the promises it made when it started its operations there.
That was how Leo described the situation to tabloidjubi.com, on Thursday (3/1). He said that the company’s promise to provide education for Senegi village’s children, including providing college places, has still not happened. Similarly the company has not provided new houses, electricity supplies or clean water either. As a result, the local people who are the customary landowners in the area, feel they have been exploited.
Until now, Leo related, the only thing which PT Selaras Inti Semesta has completed building has been a church. In the meantime they are logging the forest every day. “Yes, of course the local people are the victims in this situation. The council has received many complaints”, he said.
Leo added that in the near future he will summon PT Selaras Inti Semesta and local people to a meeting at the District Legislative Council, and draw up a memorandum of understanding between the two parties, witnessed by representatives of the people. This is in order to uphold the people’s rights.
Press Release from Indigenous Peoples Organization of Bian Enim
Jayapura, (21/12)—“The Lord Allah has given new land to create human-being, they (human-beings) are given legs and hands to cultivate the land. We do not refuse any development and companies on our land, but we want to get fully involved in it (development)”
The presence of company and investment development on our customary land has caused several impacts, which we face direct and indirectly. One of the impact that clearly occurs is water contamination which is followed with phenomenon of dead fishes, turtles and other water animals, which people believes that these are affected by company’s waste where is located on the edge of Bian River. Moreover, the water from river and swamp that we have been using and consuming for our daily needs, e.g drinking, cooking, bathing, and others, can no longer be used by us anymore. The kids who baths in the river and swamp has got health problems on the skin, digest problems, coughs and other health problems. In compensation, we have to walk miles and miles to get fresh and clean water.
The company’s activities, which we see by ourselves, has demolished our customary land that we have been protecting, nurturing, and taking care of. The deforestation of our customary forest has also deprived any of traditional medicines that we have been using for all this time. It is harder for us to look for Sago, hunted animals, traditional clothes materials, and customary equipment which are only available in the forest. For us, customary forest that is destroyed equals to damaged and the loss of our culture.
The company came to the village without any detail, clear, and proved information given. The company does not involve indigenous peoples and land owners since the first time of investment plan on our land. As well as things related to policy and permits was not informed openly, clearly, and detail to us, including the potential impact of the land permits that might occurs on our land.
In the process of socialization, consultation, verification of clan owners, and negotiation which was conducted by companies, they never get the clan owners fully involved. The companies only engaged the head of clan, the community leaders, including local government to get involved on the land that is grabbed and destroyed. The involvement mentioned is related to involvement in EIA Preparation Process, consultation, and EIA assessment. The indigenous community’s organization which represents the indigenous peoples was not even involved in this process. Meanhile, on the side of community, the land owners whose land is not grabbed and destroyed were not engaged to get involved. This matter resulted to today’s situation where our demands and aspirations are not expressed well.
We feel that government who shall has duty and obligation to protect, respect, and bring forward our rights as indigenous community, has clearly become the company’s men as they are on the company’s side, and not on the side of the indigenous community and the land owners.
When the companies came to our land, they and the government mentioned that the land was only borrowed or contracted for 35 years and afterward the land will be returned to the customary land owners, and we believe that we will get our land back. Nowadays, we got information that one of the palm oil companies, PT Bio Inti Agroindo (BIA) who conducting operation on ou land and customary area has got their Land Use Rights / HGU. We realize that the end of land use rights would refer to the land be returned to the state, after 35 years been used by the companies. For us, this situation means that the companies has failed to protect our indigenous rights as the real land owners. This also means that the company has intentionally committed fraud, negligence and removal of our indigenous rights without our approval on the concession. For that matter, we urge that if the company wish to continue using our customary land, thus the company is obliged to seek for our approval as land owners and we also have make sure that the land will be returned to us, the clan owners, after the usage.
Demands and Aspiration
Based on the circumstances and the facts above, we are very aware that many losses that we have experienced will be sustained and the impact on the loss of life, dignity and our rights as indigenous peoples as well as our constitutional rights. Therefore we demand and urged the government to take actions to:
1. Revoke and cancel location permits off of our customary land
2. The Land use rights must be removed from the land and customary land and clan’s land, and also to ensure the lands will be returned to our customary land owners
3. The Company shall be responsible to, and conduct recovery as well as to give compensation to the communities who lived along the coast of Bian River up to Kaptel
4. The government should take action and control of disruption and environmental pollution caused by gold mining company’s activities in the border between Indonesia and PNG, which has threatened communities in Maro River – Bian River
5. The government shall conduct an investigation, field observations and research on the situation in the Coastal Mandob-Bian-Mill and should involve communities and civil society organizations.
Merauke, 18 December 2012 Sincerely Yours,
No. Name, Village, Position
1. David Kabaljai, Baidub, Clan Member
2. Bertila Mahuze, Boha, Clan Member
3. Willem Mahuze, Boha, Head of Village
4. Markus Dambujai, Bupul, Clan Member
5. Petrus Mekiuw, Bupul, Clan Member
6. Bibiana Kodaip, Erambu, Clan Member
7. Elvas Kabujai, Erambu, Clan Member
8. Polikarpa Basik-Basik, Kindiki, Clan Member
9. Sebastianus Ndiken, Kindiki, Leader of BianEnim Indigenous Peoples Organization
10. Simon Mahuze, Kindiki, Village Officer
11. Chriz Ungkujai, Kweel, Clan Mekiuw Leader
12. Klemes Mahuze, Muting, Clan Member
13. Maurits A. Mahuze, Muting, Clan Member
14. Paustinus Ndiken, Muting, Secretary of Indigenous Peoples Organization
15. Silvester Ndiken, Muting, Clan Leader
16. Yanuarius Wotos, Muting, Clan Member
17. Melkias Basik-Basik, Pachas, Clan Member
18. Simson A. Basik – Basik, Pachas, Clan Member
19. Susana Mahuze, Pachas, Clan Member
20. David Dagijai, Poo, Leader of Yeinan Organization
21. Siprianus Kodaip, Poo, Clan Member
22. Abner Mugujai, Tanas, Leader of Tanas Organization
23. Carolina Mandowen, Tanas, Clan Member
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.
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).