Jayapura, 8 March 2022 – “…We Indigenous women demand the government immediately review all decisions taken and permits given to [oil palm plantation company] PT PNM and any company located in the Grime and Nawa area, Mamta region, or in Tanah Papua, to revoke their licenses because companies that intrude on our traditional lands bring us no advantages, not even the slightest economic benefit…”
So wrote Rosita Tekcuari, the head of the Namblong Indigenous Women’s Organization and residents’ representative, in a statement opposing the presence of PT Permata Nusa Mandiri (PT PNM). The letter was supported and signed by 100 members of the Namblong Indigenous People from the Grime and Nawa valleys, Nimbokrang, Jayapura Regency, Papua Province, on March 7, 2022.
PT PNM is an oil palm plantation company with a concession in Nimbokrang, in the Indonesian province of Papua. The company has obtained a number of permits, including an environmental permit (February 2014), plantation business permit (March 2014), state forest release (August 2014), and land cultivation rights (HGU) for certain parts of their concession (August and November 2018).
“These permits were issued without the knowledge of the Indigenous landowners,” explained Septer Manufandu, Executive Secretary of JERAT Papua. Septer said that the permits were issued perfunctorily, with the community only coming to know of them when the company began carrying out activities in the field.
In early January 2022, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced the revocation of a number of permits nationwide, including oil palm plantation permits. This announcement was followed by Minister of Environment and Forestry Decree No. 1/2022 which lists PT PNM as one of the companies whose state forest release permit was revoked.
For Indigenous people who have long harbored concern about the presence of PT PNM, the president’s announcement was cause for hope, especially since the Ministry of Environment and Forestry followed up by revoking the company’s state forest release. However, recent company activities in the field suggest their hope may be premature.
According to a Mongabay report, the company’s camp had been inactive for almost the past two years. A few days after President Jokowi’s announcement however, the company began land clearing activities. Greenpeace satellite monitoring from early January to 12 February 2022 showed that 70 hectares of forest was bulldozed in the PT PNM concession. This activity was strongly opposed by Indigenous People.
The planned plantation by PT PNM, that Greenpeace has previously linked to tycoon Anthoni Salim, has been steadfastly rejected by Rosita Tekcuari since information about the company’s permits came to light. In 2018, the Regent of Jayapura actually recognised Bukit Isyo Rhempang Muaif as the customary forest of the Yawadatum Indigenous People. This designation covers forest that is included within the PT PNM concession.
“The company’s presence will result in the loss of community livelihoods, shelter, and loss of animals that used to live alongside them such as the several endemic Bird of Paradise species,” said Franky Samperante, Director of Pusaka Bentala Rakyat. The lowland rainforest PT PNM plans to clear to produce palm oil is currently the living space for the Indigenous People of the Grime and Nawa valleys, including for Rosita.
Clearing and logging activities carried out by the company since the permit revocation in January 2022 would appear to be illegal under the Forestry Law. Furthermore, “after checking on the official website of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, there is no record of payments of forest resource provision (PSDH) and reforestation funds (DR) by PT PNM, from 2019 to March 7, 2022,” said Nico Wamafma, Greenpeace Indonesia Forest Campaigner. Payment of PSDH and DR is a legal requirement for all companies engaged in logging activities.
Representing the Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for Social Justice and Environmental Sustainability in Tanah Papua, Franky Samperante of Pusaka Bentala Rakyat Foundation asked the company to stop its activities and asked the government to revoke all the permits held by the company. “The company ignores the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and its plans threaten the forests and animals in the Grime and Nawa valleys,” said Franky. Revocations should be carried out by the provincial and regency governments, especially considering that a permit evaluation process has been underway since the Palm Oil Moratorium was instituted in 2018.
“Law enforcement must be taken the company for its forest clearing activities since January 2022,” added Nico.
Septer Manufandu: +62 811-4885-090
Nico Wamafma: +62 821-9758-5110
Franky Samperante: 0813 1728 6019
 See p. 131-132 in Greenpeace International 2021 report Licence to Clear.
- Photos and videos from the field and from the submission of Position Statement Letter to the Jayapura Regent, 07 March 2022
- Satellite image sequence of land clearing in the PT PNM concession
Coalition of Civil Society Organizations for Social Justice and Environmental Sustainability in Tanah Papua:
- Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat
- JERAT Papua
- WALHI Papua
- Greenpeace Indonesia
- HuMA Association
- Association for the Assessment and Empowerment of Indigenous Peoples (PPMA) Papua
- JPIC Foundation GKI Synod in Tanah Papua
- Panah Papua Association
- LBH Papua
- Papuan Voices
- Teraju Indonesia
- JURnal Celebes
- PADI Indonesia
- Yayasan Etnika Kosmologi Katulistiwa
- Kaoem Telapak
- MNUKWAR Papua
- Yapen Indigenous Peoples Customary Council
- Belantara Papua Association
- Independent Forestry Monitoring Network