CSOs Urge the Government to Immediately Take Effective Steps to Save Indigenous Peoples who are Affected by the Climate and Food Crises
Papua and Jakarta, 12 August 2023. The impacts of climate change are now being felt by the world’s population. Cold weather and extreme rainfall, hot weather and drought, along with ecological disasters, floods, landslides, pest disturbances, and so on, are devastating people’s lives one after another. The climate crisis has also led to economic problems, harvest failure, forest and land fires, increased health problems, hunger and malnutrition, ecosystem damage, suffering and death.
In July 2023, the national media reported about the hardships experienced by residents in Agandungume, Lembewi and Oneri Districts, Puncak Regency, Central Papua Province, in acquiring and obtaining food. Fields, hamlets and food crops in the villages are undergoing drought and harvest failure, with no rain and in low temperatures. They are forced to relocate and walk in poor condition to obtain food aid.
We, of the civil society organizations Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat, FIAN Indonesia, Greenpeace Indonesia and Petrus Vertenten MSC Center Papua, Perkumpulan Harmoni Alam Papuana, LBH PAPUA Pos Merauke, SKP of Agats-Asmat Diocese, have convened and heard the complaints regarding the poor situation, difficulties and food and clean water crises which occurred and are experienced by the indigenous peoples in Malind, Kaptel and Eligobel Districts, Merauke Regency; the indigenous peoples in Kepi, Obaa and Manjemur regions, Mappi Regency; and Fayit District in Asmat Regency, all of which are located in South Papua Province.
It has been difficult for the people to obtain clean water, which is also expensive, the fields and food crops have been subject to drought, crop yields are below the target and are insufficient for family food needs. The activity of sago harvesting in the hamlets has stopped due to the drought, and the game animals are migrating further into the forest. The people are experiencing hardships in fulfilling food and water from hamlets and forests that are far from the village. The river water is dry and the rivers are impassable. Swamps and rivers are also in poor condition, unhealthy and allegedly polluted, thus the people avoid them and are unable to consume the river water.
We have also been monitoring and found hotspots which may result in and/or have led to forest and land fires in Papua. The Modis and Viirs satellite image monitoring on the website https://map.nusantara-atlas.org in the last 14 days (23 July – 11 August 2023) found 2,270 hotspots throughout the Land of Papua, the majority of which are located in South Papua Province, namely 1,910 hotspots. The highest number of hotspots by regency is in Merauke Regency, namely 1,576 hotspots, as well as 302 hotspots in Mappi. The districts with more than 100 hotspots include Okaba, Sota, Naukenjerai, Kimaam, Tabonji, Waan, Tanah Miring Districts, Merauke Regency, and Obaa District, Mappi Regency.
Hotspots have also been found in the concession areas of oil palm plantation companies, PT Agriprima Cipta Persada, PT Internusa Jaya Sejahtera and PT Hardaya Sawit Plantation, in Merauke Regency, and in the concession areas of Industrial Plantation Forest companies, PT Selaras Inti Semesta and PT Plasma Nutfah Marind Papua in Merauke Regency.
The events of drought, food insecurity and forest fire will result in hardships, conflicts, environmental damage, ecological disasters, and even death, which may lead to potential violations of human rights. Regulatory provisions stipulate that every person has the right to a proper and safe environment, this is the main prerequisite for fulfilling the right to life, the right to food, and a number of fundamental rights in human rights as emphasized in Article 9 of Law Number 39 Year 1999 regarding Human Rights. The state assumes the obligation to ensure that every citizen and all organizations and institutions in Indonesia protect the environment.
The state is also obligated to encourage mitigation against damage and threats to the environment as part of the state’s obligations to protect, respect and fulfill the human rights of its citizens. The fulfillment of the state’s obligations is manifested in its responsibility to assume an active role in the treatment, rehabilitation and recovery of the victims affected by forest, land, water and air degradation as well as carrying out law enforcement against perpetrators of environmental destruction.
We, leaders of civil society organizations, urge and request that the national government, South Papua government and the regency governments in South Papua region, immediately take effective, rapid response and emergency measures to save and fulfill the rights of indigenous peoples affected by the climate crisis and food shortage, by way of providing programs of proper and easily accessible food assistance, as well as fulfilling the people’s basic needs based on innovations in the food knowledge of indigenous peoples, in an orderly and sustainable manner.
We urge the regency regional governments in the South Papua Province region, district governments and village administrations, to work together with leaders of district-level religious organizations, Parishes, Chapelries and Church Councils, to protect the forests which are rich and contain a variety of foods, and to immediately anticipate food emergencies as well as forest and land fires that occur in affected areas, by opening food service and emergency response posts, as channels for sharing information and providing proper and healthy food assistance.
We urge the national government, as well as provincial and regency regional governments in the Land of Papua, to respect, protect and advance the indigenous peoples’ knowledge and food systems, safeguard land and forests as the people’s food sources, protect and empower the indigenous peoples’ food businesses, business organizations, technological innovations, provision of capital and markets, in a sustainable manner.
We urge the Ministry of Environment and Forestry to conduct investigation into the allegations of land and forest fires that occurred in the concession areas of oil palm plantation companies and industrial tree plantations in Merauke Regency, and to endeavor towards law enforcement and order.
Franky Samperante, Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat: 0813 1728 6019
Betty Nababan, FIAN Indonesia: 0816 103 461
Harry Woersok, Petrus Vertenten MSC Center: 0812 4080 8786
Iqbal Damanik, Greenpeace Indonesia: 0811 444 5026
Dewanto Talubun, Perkumpulan Harmoni Alam Papuana: 0852 5474 9321
Teddy Wakum, LBH PAPUA Pos Merauke: 0822 4245 0431
Promoting and Actualizing the Respect and Protection of the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples of Papua
The state acknowledges that the administration of government and the implementation of development in Papua Province have not completely fulfilled the sense of justice, they have not fully enabled the achievement of people’s welfare, nor have they fully supported the realization of law enforcement, nor fully indicated the respect for human rights (HAM) in Papua Province, particularly of the Papuan people. This acknowledgment is contained in the consideration provisions in Law Number 21 Year 2001 regarding Special Autonomy for the Papua Province, letter f.
The state as a human rights duty bearer is required to guarantee the implementation, promotion and fulfillment of human rights in the Land of Papua and other regions. The state is obligated to respect, protect and fulfill the human rights, including the rights of indigenous peoples.
Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat believes that the lawsuit by Hendrikus Woro, a Defender of Indigenous Peoples’ and Environmental rights from the Awyu indigenous people in Boven Digoel, against a Decision of the Head of the Investment and One-Stop Services Office (DPMPTSP) of Papua Province, who issued Decision Number 82 Year 2021 regarding Environmental Feasibility of the Planned Development of Oil Palm Plantation covering an area of 36,094.4 hectares for PT Indo Asiana Lestari in Mandobo District and Fofi District, Boven Digoel Regency, Papua Province, is part of an endeavor to demand restoration of the rights upon the state’s failure to respect, protect and fulfill the rights of indigenous peoples.
In connection with the examination of such environmental lawsuit, in case Number 6/G/LH/2023/PTUN.JPR at the State Administrative District Court (PTUN) of Jayapura, Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat filed an application for intervention as a third party, with the panel of judges of Jayapura State Administrative District Court on Wednesday, 12 April 2023, accompanied by a team of attorneys from the Save Papua’s Indigenous Forests Coalition.
The Intervention Applicant, Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat, is applying to become a third party or intervener at their own will to retain or defend its rights and interests in order that the Intervention Applicant is not impaired by a court decision, this has been regulated in Article 83 of the Law on State Administrative Court. The Intervention Applicant is a non-governmental organization that has full concern for Human Rights, particularly those related to the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Papua and the Environmental Preservation in Papua.
The Director of Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat, Franky Samperante, stated that “This intervention application is based upon a mission of interest and purpose to endeavor and fight for the fulfillment of the basic rights of the people; the right to land and other natural resources, the right to the environment; recognition and protection of the existence and rights of Indigenous Peoples and poor community groups; existence of a guarantee for fair and sustainable management and utilization of natural resources,” said Franky Samperante.
One of the Attorneys from the Save Papua’s Indigenous Forests Coalition, Emanuel Gobay, S.H, M.H., explained that in the context of implementation of environmental protection and management responsibilities, the position of an environmental organization to file a lawsuit in the interest of preserving environmental functions is regulated in Article 92 paragraphs 2 and 3 of Law Number 32 Year 2009 Regarding Environmental Protection and Management.
“In the context of implementation of environmental protection and management responsibilities, whereby environmental organizations are entitled to file a lawsuit in the interest of preserving environmental functions,” Emanuel Gobay, S.H, M.H, who is also the Director of LBH Papua, explained.
With regard to intervention applications filed by environmental organizations, there has been a precedent in Case Decision Number 75 /G.TUN/2003/PTUN-JKT/INTV, in which 4 (four) environmental organizations, WALHI, ICEL, APHI, and PBHI were accepted as interveners in the case of reclamation and revitalization of the Jakarta North Coast.
Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat has been assisting the Awyu indigenous people in Yare Village, Fofi District, Boven Digoel Regency, in the advocacy for protecting, safeguarding and managing indigenous forests in a fair and sustainable manner, among others by documenting the tenure knowledge and the mapping of customary areas, as well as planning the efforts towards recognition of the right to indigenous land and forest by local clans. The Awyu indigenous people have demonstrated their ability and knowledge to manage their indigenous forest in a sustainable manner.
The issuance of PT Indo Asiana Lestari’s environmental feasibility permit will violate the right to life and the right to environment, in that important and sacred sites and biodiversity are threatened with disappearance due to the existence of the permit. This would impair the interest of the intervention applicant which, together with the plaintiff and other indigenous peoples, is currently preparing the requirements for recognition of customary forest for the protection of resources and the environment.
Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat requests that the Panel of Judges of the Jayapura State Administrative Court examining and hearing this case would grant the following Decisions: (1) To accept and grant the intervention application filed by the Intervention Applicant in its entirety; (2) To legally declare that the Intervention Applicant is a third party that has a legal interest in Case Number 6/G/LH/2023/PTUN.JPR at the State Administrative District Court (PTUN) of Jayapura; (3) To accept the Intervention Applicant as an Intervening Plaintiff in Case Number 6/G/LH/2023/PTUN.JPR at the State Administrative Court (PTUN) of Jayapura.
Jayapura, 13 April 2023
Franky Samperante, Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat: +62 813 1728 6019
Legal Team of Save Papua’s Indigenous Forests Coalition
Emanuel Gobay, S.H., M.H.: +62 821-9950-7613
Tigor G Hutapea, S.H.: +62 812-8729-6684