Wednesday 29 April 2020

A logging company, PT Wanagalang Utama, is felling timber on indigenous land from Aisnak, in the Far South East Aifat subdistrict, Maybrat Regency,  to as far as South Moskona subdistrict, Bintuni Bay Regency, in Papua Barat province.

We have received information that local indigenous peoples have made complaints about the company’s presence in their area and its activities. Their principal grievance is that the company has failed to fully met its obligations to the local community, because it has been paying an unfair rate of compensation for timber, and the social and economic empowerment programmes which didn’t take place as the community had hoped.

Based on contracts and agreements signed in 2017 and 2018 between indigenous representatives in Aisnak village  and PT Wanagalang Utama, we have discovered that the rates of compensation for both merbau and non-merbau timber per cubic metre are less than those set out in Gubernatiorial Regulation 5/2014. This is not a fair rate when compared to the profit the company will obtain when it sells the wood at commercial rates.

This injustice, the inadequacy of how the profits from timber exploitation are divided, and the lack of respect the corporation has shown towards the rights of local indigenous people has resulted in tension and forceful opposition, after which the company is thought to have invited the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) to provide security for its business. This in turn played a part in a Brimob officer being found injured in PT Wanagalang Utama’s camp, where he died.

We believe that the local government and other local institutions have not yet responded adequately and ensured full oversight over the company’s activities, in order to avoid and restrain unwanted and illegal incidents from occurring, and to ensure a continual protection of indigenous rights. The same applies to certification bodies who tend to turn a blind eye to problematic forest management and companies’ failure to respect indigenous rights, by depending only on information from the companies themselves.

As we write, police and military forces are carrying out security operations in villages around Far Southeast Aifat Sub-district in Maybrat Regency and also in Bintuni Bay, under the pretext of hunting down individuals who are suspected of being perpetrators of the violence towards the deceased Brimob officer, and stolen his gun. These operations are employing a security approach, involving arrests and violence towards civilian victims and the destruction of their possessions, which has caused anxiety and people have fled to seek refuge in the forest. Such actions are potential violations of human rights provisions, such as those in Law 5/1998 which concerns the convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, Law 12/2005 ratifying the international convention on civil and political rights and Law 39/1999 on human rights.

Therefore, we, a coalition of civil society organisations ask that: (1) The Papua Barat provincial Governor, the Head of the Papua Barat Province Papuan People’s Assemply, and the Bupati and District Legislative Councils in Bintuni Bay and Maybrat Regencies, to be pro-active in their efforts in protecting the rights of the Moskona indigenous people with regards to PT Wanagalang Utama, and to move swiftly to form a special fact-finding team which involves religious and independent organisations , and which can investigate the violence and the activites of PT Wanagalang Utama, discover the truth and seek a legal settlement; (2) The Police chief for Papua Barat Province and the Military Commander of the Kasuari force should call a halt to operations which involve police and military personnel and have used violent methods which have unsettled the civilian community. Instead they should aim to uphold the law in accordance with regulations; (3) The head of the Papua Barat provincial Forestry Agency should launch an open and responsible investigation and evaluation of any suspected violations of the law related to PT Wanagalang Utama’s responsibility to respect the rights of local indigenous people, and a fair penalty should be imposed.

Coalition of Civil Society Organisations to defend human rights and the environment: Perkumpulan Panah Papua, Papua Forest Watch, LP3BH Manokwari, Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat, Koalisi LSM Papua Barat, Himpunan Pemuda Moskona (HIPMOS), Wahana Lingkungan Hidup (Walhi) Papua, Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (LBH) Papua, Perkumpulan Advokat HAM (PAHAM) Papua, Perhimpunan Bantuan Hukum (PBH) Cenderawasih, Aliansi Demokrasi untuk Papua (AlDP), ELSHAM Papua, SKP Keuskupan Agung Merauke, KPKC Sinode GKI di Tanah Papua, Yayasan Anak Dusun Papua (Yadupa), KontraS Papua, Jaringan Kerja Rakyat (JERAT) Papua, Dewan Masyarakat Adat Momuna, Pemuda Katolik Teluk Bintuni, Himpunan Mahasiswa Aifat Timur di Yogyakarta, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara Sorong Raya, Perhimpunan Bantuan Hukum untuk Keadilan dan Perdamaian (PBHKP), Solidarity of Indigenous Papuan (SIP), Sajogyo Institute.

Ank, Apr 2020

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