06/12/2024, 11.39
Send to a friend

Papua natives in Jakarta against palm plantations

by Mathias Hariyadi

The Awyu and Moi protest in front of the Supreme Court, which must examine their appeals against some mega-concessions approved by the government that would lead to massive deforestation of the forests where they have always lived. The complaint of the NGO Forum for Development: ‘This would be ecocide’.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - ‘All eyes on Papua’. A simple tiller that has gone viral through social networks in Indonesia these days accompanies the appeal that dozens of indigenous people from South Papua are taking to Jakarta to defend the rights over their land threatened by deforestation.

They fear they will do the same as the Kalimantan region in Borneo, whose forests have been massively transformed by the intensive exploitation of plantations for the production of palm oil.

Dressed in their traditional clothes, representatives of the Awyu and Moi tribal groups staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Indonesian Supreme Court to express their struggle in defence of the territory they have inhabited for centuries.

These people live in the Boven Digul area, which, according to the ‘Pusaka Bentala Rakyat’ Foundation, is the one most severely affected by massive deforestation today. They have also filed a lawsuit against the state, which has authorised several commercial companies to operate concessions on at least 36,099 hectares (almost half the area of Greater Jakarta) that will be transformed into a new palm plantation. The objective of the indigenous communities is to secure their customary land between the Mappi and Digul rivers.

Speaking to the Indonesian media over the weekend, the Indonesian Minister of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono - son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono - stated that ‘Papua is our national land property and its dignity should be respected and restored. We all want all indigenous Papuans to be able to live in dignity and prosperity,' he added, arguing that commercial projects were a way to not “leave this region in the background”.

For his part, Hendrikus Woro, 40, from Yare village in Fofi district, said he was grateful for ‘the moral support’ he received in their protest in Jakarta. So many people ‘heard our cry. We feel like ducklings who seemed to have lost their mother all this time'.

The Indonesian environmental watchdog group Walhi said this affair confirms the seriousness of the problem: tensions are exacerbated by the absence of so-called FPIC (free and prior informed consent) from commercial companies in relation to their environmental concession rights.

‘The horizontal conflict between the local Papuan indigenous communities - the Awyu and the Moi - and the government clearly shows that the state does not respect the existence of local indigenous tribal groups and their rights,’ comments Uli Siagian of Walhi.

It is not only customary law that is at stake: ‘The lawsuits filed by these Papuan tribal groups,’ Siagian points out, ‘are mainly based on climate change issues. When their dense forest is turned into a palm plantation, the carbon emissions will be enormous'.

In this regard, the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development (INFID) openly speaks of ‘ecocide’ in reference to the projects in the field on Papuan lands.

Send to a friend
Printable version
See also
"We are optimistic," says Paul Bhatti as Rimsha Masih's bail hearing postponed to Friday
National Commission for Women asks for 'immediate action' in the nun rape case in Kerala
07/02/2019 17:28
For Fr Tom, abducted in Yemen, Holy Thursday prayer and adoration for the martyrs
21/03/2016 14:57
Synod for the Amazon: Card Stella hails the ‘great beauty’ of celibacy in a priest’s life
24/10/2019 17:56
More migrants drown off Yemen’s coast
11/08/2017 20:05


Subscribe to Asia News updates or change your preferences

Subscribe now
“L’Asia: ecco il nostro comune compito per il terzo millennio!” - Giovanni Paolo II, da “Alzatevi, andiamo”