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They stole Merbau timber before oil palm plantations investment (part 2)

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Confiscated Merbau timber auctioned by Papua Province Forestry Office – Dok. Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – Another impact of oil palm plantations has caused the river became shallow and polluted; trees and plants hardly grow anymore.

“Papuan people eat sago, tubers, or bananas, we do not eat palm oil,” said Mgr John Philip Saklil Pr as quoted by Antara news agency.

Bishop Saklil believes there are many examples of failure of oil palm plantations such as in Kalimantan and Keerom, Papua Province. It only caused local residents lost their land for sago and tubers to grow.

“The closest example is in Keerom. Is it now the Keerom locals have become rich with oil palms? So please do not force the Papuan people to turn their livelihood to plant things that are not customary,” Bishop Saklil said.

Researchers from University of Riau T. Ariful Amri explained the negative impacts of oil palm plantation activities especially on water. Oil palm is nutrients greed monoculture and absorbs at least 12 liters water into its tree trunk a day.

Read They stole Merbau timber before oil palm plantations investment (part 1)

The growth of oil palm is also depend and should be stimulated by various kinds of fertilizer substances like pesticides and other chemicals.

New migrant pests also appear very fierce because this new pest species will seek new habitat due to harsh competition with other fauna. This is due to the limited land and types of plants caused by monoculture cultivation.

Henderite Ohee, researcher and lecturer of FMIPA UNCEN in his article entitled Human Threats to Biodiversity in Papua said destruction of habitat becomes a real threat to sustainability of ecology and biodiversity in Papua. This is also caused by human activities.

According to Law No. 32 of 2009 Article 1, paragraph 17 on the management and protection of environment the damage is a direct and/or indirect change to the physical, chemical and/or biological nature of environment that exceeds the standard criteria of environmental damage.

Damage to ecosystems in Indonesia has occurred in various places and various types of ecosystems. Damage in agricultural or plantation ecosystems is one of them. Wildlife extinction has been direct impact on the management of oil palm plantations on forest land.

Palm oil ‘invasion’ to Papua and Merbau timber

Palm oil plantation companies entered Papua in 1980s, especially large state-owned plantations (BUMN-PTP2) which later changed their name into PTPPN II. This state-owned company began to reach Sorong, Manokwari and Jayapura, along with the transmigration program.

“From 1990s until now, private plantations began to flood the land of Papua like mushrooms grow in the rainy season. Because the potential lands for plantations in Sumatra and Kalimantan have been discharged by conglomerates nationwide and world class,” said Simon Rumaropen former employee of PTPN Palm Oil in Arso in a written statement received by Jubi.

Furthermore, Rumaropen said potential oil palm investors are targeting the land of Papua as a potential field to invest.

“They race to enter Papua since no land left in Sumatra and Kalimantan. They come to Papua with various background interests,” he said, quoting the word of God in Matthew’s gospel is the thief will come to steal, kill and destroy.

Rumaropen suspects that the reason behind many new companies eager to invest in oil palm sector in Papua is Merbau wood.

“If the company has obtained a location permit and a plantation business permit but has not been operating for more than three years, and the company has no plantations in other areas, it can be assumed that the company has become wood mafia, “he said in a written statement.

Responding to the statement of the Coalition for Palm Oil Victims in Papua related to oil palm industries profit potential, Rumaropen asserted that they are actually very profitable, both for large companies and local communities/farmers.

Rumaropen warned that the granting of permits to companies that come to Papua, with work program and pledge of promises, might be “work and land mafia”.

“The palm oil investors come to Papua with various aims, some will actually open large plantations and some are just passing through,” he said.

Meanwhile, Ais Rumbekwan, environmental activists and environmentalists from the Friends of the Earth Indonesia (Walhi) – Papua and West Papua said that on the ground the case of land grabbing for oil palm plantations without reasonable compensation to indigenous people become very common case.

Palm oil was imported to Indonesia by the Dutch East Indies government in 1848. Some of the seeds were planted in Bogor Botanical Gardens, while the remaining seeds were planted on the side of the road as ornamental plants in Deli, North Sumatra in the 1870s.(tabloidjubi.com)

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The story of illegal logging from the forests of Papua

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Illegal timbers – an illustration. -Tempo.co

Jayapura, Jubi – Tempo journalist Avit Hidayat shared his experience in doing an investigation about the circulation of illegal timbers from Papua’s forest as a resource person for the discussion about “ Papua’s Forest and Logging Disputes”.

Auriga Nusantara, Eyes on the Forest, Tempo Institute, Free Press Unlimited, and Tempo Media Grup held this forum in Jakarta, Monday, 28 January 2019 and attended by other resource persons, such as Laode M. Syarif (KPK commissionaire), Rasio Ridho Sani (Gakkum-KLHK), Hilman Nugroho (PHPL-KLHK) Muhamad Kosar (JPIK), Timotius Murib (Majelis Rakyat Papua) and Papuan stakeholders from indigenous peoples, Papuan Parliament and Papua Provincial Forestry Office.

In the discussion, Avit said it is essential for the public to know about the situation in Papua. “The tropical forests in Papua are the last (forests) in Indonesia, while the Merbau wood which is the Papuan endemic trees have been becoming the target of the international market,” he said. 

Furthermore, Avid said he conducted the investigation in many different places and interviewed many resource persons; and in Papua, the Tempo team went further to the logging sites. There, they witnessed how the workers who come from other regions carried out the illegal logging activity. They also met transporters, woodmasters, drivers, and logging company staffs.

“And the most important thing is we met the supplier. The supplier is a mediator of the logging companies who play a role to bargain with ‘ondo’—the tribal chief–for compensation. For example, if in a village there are common indigenous lands, the supplier comes to measuring the areas, and give payment to indigenous peoples.”

In their investigation, the Tempo team also met the owners of a logging company who later admitted about the illegal logging activity.  However, they called it the unregistered community logging.

Meanwhile, in Aroba Sub-district of Teluk Bintuni, Papua Barat, the team went to the forest areas of the company who received the Business License for the Utilization of Natural Forest and Timber Product (IUPHHK-HA) that formerly known as a Forest Concession Permit (HPH). There, the team found the manipulation of a wood barcode. For instance, the barcode for ketapang wood is used for Merbau wood.

Moreover, the team also investigated the primary industry in Papua, Surabaya, Lumajang, Gresik by tracing the distribution of logs. Here, they found another finding, namely the fake transport data and officials’ involvement, whereas the illegal retribution practice has also become their another concern.

In their journey from Sarmi to Jayapura Municipality, the team discovered 25 retribution posts that consist of the indigenous institution, police (military) and Forestry Office. “This is the fact that we found, but I couldn’t capture it because it was too risky. We even witness a military truck used to transport the logs.”

Furthermore, the Tempo team met the export logging companies and found those companies able to export up to 6,000-meter cubic annually, while based on the Forest Product Information Management System (SIPUH), they only allowed to export around 100-meter cubic.

“In Surabaya, we went to a barge and talked with an officer. He said not all logs are given barcode. A few logging companies intentionally inserted non-barcode logs or illegal logs in there. They are mostly the HPH holders, and they even put the timbers between the logs.”

However, all these findings did not include in the audit industry report registered in the Timber Legality and Verification System Legality and Verification System (SVLK) which consist of the Assessment Agency for Sustainable Forest Production Management (LP-PHPL) and Timber Verification Agency (LV-LK). Both agencies are responsible for assessing the sustainable forest product management and verify the legality aspect of timber based on the system and standards set by the government.

“We also got the information about the involvement of LV-LK and LP-PHPL, which means they play around with such companies and culprits from the forestry office. I think the KPK has identified these cases.”

In the meantime, a resource person from the National Accreditation Committee (KAN) acknowledged that there were bribery practices in the LV-LK. The audit report had often finished before the field assessment.

Meanwhile, the participants appreciated the findings of Tempo’s investigation. They expected the government to find a solution immediately, whether it’s a regulation or supervision and law enforcement.

On the other hand, a representative of LV-LK objected this report regarding the bribery practices in his institution. But Avit said until now none of the resource persons withdrew their statements and opposed the result of the team’s investigation.

Meanwhile, Agung Wijaya, Avit’s editor for this covered story, said he was worried about Avit’s safety during the investigation. But finally, this report was completed and published.

He further said Tempo had traced the case of illegal logging since 2017. Thus, publishing the investigation report becomes a moral burden for Tempo. Therefore Tempo will continue to monitor this issue and welcome other stakeholders who attended this forum for further discussion.

Through this coverage, Tempo attempted to look the case thoroughly even though it might not give a solution because the solution is actually in the hand of all of you (who come to this forum).” (*)

 

Reporter: Timoteus Marten

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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The elected president urged paying attention to the environmental issue

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Illustration. -Pixabay.com

Jayapura, Jubi – The Indonesian Forum for Environment (WALHI) Papua urged the elected president for 2019-2024 to include the environmental issue in his main agenda to provide access to environmental management for indigenous Papuans as applied in the constitution.

Indonesia will run the presidential and legislative elections simultaneously in April 2019. Both presidential candidates demanded to notice the environmental issue in their programs.

Moreover, the elected president and vice president are also expected to give full authority to Papua Provincial Government in the implementation of Special Autonomy Law without being intervened by national policies. Therefore, indigenous Papuans would have access to natural resources management.

As reported in kpu.go.id, both presidential candidates Joko Widodo-Maaruf Amin and Prabowo Subianto-Salahuddin Uno mentioned about the environmental issue in their points of the campaign. Widodo-Amin talk about the sustainable environment, while Subianto-Uno put the environment-based national development program for the people of Indonesia through politics and economy. On 17 January 2019, both candidates attended the presidential debate held by KPU on the issues of corruption, law and human rights, and terrorism.

In addition to the presidential candidates, the legislative candidates are also expected to understand the environmental issue comprehensively, not merely talk about it. Hence, WALHI asked them to be open and wise in addressing this issue, particularly related to human security.

Meanwhile, as an environmentally concerned civil organisation, WALHI invites young people to use their right to vote the legislative candidates who care about the environmental issue and still keep their eyes on the elected ones.

“Because the environment is the most crucial issue that must be considered and led by legislators,” said Aeshs Rumbekwan of WALHI Papua in a press release received by Jubi in Jayapura on Thursday, 17 January 2019.

WALHI declared that currently, the environmental governance in Indonesia is getting worse. If the environmental management is in accordance to the Law No. 32 of 2003 on the Protection and Management of Environment, there should be no pollution including from hazardous and poisonous materials, and land clearing by cutting and burning the forest.

Poor environmental management, according to WALHI, occurred because the State regards the natural wealth as a commodity. Therefore, it does not acknowledge the local wisdom in managing natural resources. Instead, it hands over the natural resources management to corporations.

Based on WALHI’s records in 2017, there were 302 environmental cases, 163 persons have criminalised and 13 provinces involved as the crime scenes. Meanwhile, the indigenous landowners also harmed by this mismanagement. As a result, they lost their communal land and exploited as workers.

In the same occasion, WALHI also urged Papua Provincial Government to pay more attention to the environment, implement the Special Autonomy Law and open access for implementing the national policies.

Meanwhile, the activist of Port Numbay Green Forum (FPPNG) Gamel Abdel Nasser assessed that the environmental issue, particularly in Jayapura, Papua, was addressed by certain groups. For a while, environmental problems have not become a common issue for all stakeholders. Both government and NGOs work independently. Though some NGOs have collaborated with the government to address this issue, their collaboration so far has not fully raised awareness among people.

“There is no massive awareness to understand the importance of balanced ecosystem,” said Gamel.

According to him, if one ecosystem disrupted, it will affect other ecosystems. Therefore, it needs to handle this holistically. Furthermore, he gave an example of Jayapura City which often hit by floods and garbage. Efforts to make people aware, he continued, must be supported by the lowest level of government administrations.

Furthermore, he said both presidential candidates Jokowi and Prabowo need to reminded from the start that Papua is the last biodiversity fortress on Earth.

Papua’s forests must be protected. One of the preventions is to prohibit palm oil plantations in Papua. It’s just enough for Kalimantan and Sumatra became victims of palm oil plantations, not Papua,” he said. (*)

 

Reporter: Hengky Yeimo

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Government to solve environmental crimes and human rights violations

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Jayapura, Jubi – Environmental activists and NGOs such as Yayasan Pusaka, SOS Tanah Papua, KPKC GKI Tanah Papua and PAHAM urged the central government to immediately solving the human rights violations and environmental crimes occurred in Papua.

This call is related to the 75th World Human Rights Day on 10 December 2018 that concern over violations and crimes against humanity and the environment.

A human right defender Yohanis Mambrasar said he received a report said that many civilians in Nduga Regency forced to take refuge and leave their villages. There is no guarantee of security and food for them.

“They are worried and suppressed by the security forces that involved in the evacuation of shooting victims. We also heard that a church activist was shot and died in Nduga,” said Mambrasar.

Meanwhile, the Rev Matheus Adadikam, the Director of ELSHAM (Institute for Policy Research and Advocacy) Papua, in a press release to Jubi said President Joko Widodo had given less priority to human rights enforcement in Indonesia, particularly in Papua, even though he promised to solve a number of past human right violations in Papua including the incidents in Abepura, Wamena and Wasior.

The development pattern and security approach in handling many problems in Papua considered ineffective, because people have traumatized since 1 May 1969. Therefore, the government and politic elites must be wise in responding the shooting incident in Nduga Regency. People had traumatised by Mampenduma Military Operation of 1986.

“We asked the Military and Police to prioritise professionalism and uphold the applied laws and human values according to the UN Human Rights Convention.

We also asked the armed group to be fully responsible for this incident. Do not involve the civilians because it would take more casualties.

 

Environmental crimes

Pressure on the environment as a source of life for indigenous Papuans also occurs in several regions through land clearing and deforestation for plantation, mining and logging activities on a large scale which involving the capital owners, transnational companies and state officials.

“Our sacred and sago forests in Muting and Bupul, Merauke Regency, have been evicted and demolished by those private companies without consultation and agreement. They did it quickly and gave improper compensation for the lands and our loss,” said Bonefacius Basikbasik Kamijae, the Chief of Kamijae clan.

Both central and regional governments have ignored and failed to protect the rights of the community started from the issuing of business permit and license for land and forest use. Furthermore, the government also considered for not being consistent regarding policy and regulation on the protection of forests and peatlands.

Aish Rumbekwan from WALHI Papua described that land conversion and large-scale deforestation from oil palm plantations, commercial plantations, mining and logging activities have triggered the climate change and raised the greenhouse emissions.

Therefore, the government should take immediate actions to reduce the earth temperature to below 1.5 degrees to ensure the safety of the people and their living space.

“We asked both regional and central governments to immediately implement a program to evaluate, review and revoke the business permits of forests and lands use that violate and contradict the regulations and customary laws,” said Rumbekwan.

Maratha Resolution

Environmental organisations in Papua have just completed their meeting in the Forum of Policy Dialogue and the Conference of Papua Customary Community held on 7 – 8 December in Susteran Maranatha, Jayapura City.

The meeting has set a resolution to address human rights violations and environmental crimes in Papua.

The resolution urged the government to thoroughly solving the human rights violations and humanitarian issues in Papua through a transparent legal process and provide justice to the victims and their families.

The government must take immediate action to restore and rehabilitate the rights of victims and their families.

The government must immediately recognize, protect and respect the existence of indigenous Papuans and the rights of indigenous people, the right towards lands and forests, the right of freedom of expression, the right of customary institution and the right of freedom of organisation, the right of development, the rights of customary laws and customary court.

The recognition, respect and protection of rights are effective methods to prevent human rights violations, environmental crimes and deforestation.

Meanwhile, Franky Samperante from Yayasan Papua said that the rights of indigenous Papuans to determine the development and take a decision on the land use by the outsiders have included in the Papuan Autonomy Law and derivative regulations.

However, the government has not fully acknowledged, protect and respect it.  “The government takes the interest of capital owners on behalf of the economic development as a priority. It also failed to monitor and conduct law enforcement towards the company who violate and commit environmental crimes and commit violence against the community,” said Samperante. (*)

Reporter: David Sobolim

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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