Indonesian NGOs Pusaka and Greenpeace Indonesia along with 7 local Papuan organisations have just released a statement and report from a Conference held in Sorong, West Papua, in December last year where activists reviewed the problems facing the people and forests of Papua and West Papua from forestry and land concessions. The meeting included 18 community representatives from West Papua, 6 from Papua and 27 NGO activists.
The report details serious human rights violations by investors – including killings, torture, land grabbing and environmental destruction, decries the way Government policies favour the interests of large companies to take over unprotected community lands, and protests the discrimination against Papuans evident in the way lands are being developed and rights violations ignored. A joint statement from the meeting requests: a meeting with the Indonesian President; the implementation of new laws to protect communities’ rights to their lands; a review of current investments and the regulations which facilitate them; resolution of land conflicts and; urges companies to respect communities’ rights to their lands and to free, prior and informed consent. The full statement is included below.
We, as representatives of indigenous peoples from the land of Papua who live in and around forest areas, along with civil society organisations from around Papua and further afield, held a conference in Sorong on the 2nd and 3rd December 2016, to discuss various problems related to development policy and investments in forestry and land, and their effects on people and environment.
We have repeatedly conveyed the facts surrounding the negative impacts of investment in forestry and land on the fundamental rights of indigenous peoples around Papua, including violations of their right to life, right to freedom, right to justice and freedom from discrimination, right to not be tortured, right to feel safe, rights to our land, forest and territory, violations of the principle of free, prior informed consent, right to food, right to welfare and development, and also low rates of pay and poor working conditions, forest degradation and destruction, and environmental damage.
We wish to state our pain and deep concern about all these rights violations, the suffering and the losses which we have experienced, both in the past and until the present day, which have come abut as a result of forestry investment and exploitation of forest products, plantations and mining, carried out by private or state-owned companies, with no just settlement or attempts at redress for what we have lost.
We wish to state our concern at government plans and policies for the acceleration of development in the Land of Papua, by providing opportunities and increased flexibility for wealthy companies, through the large-scale national food and energy development programme in Merauke, expansion of oil palm plantations and other export commodities, exploitation of forests, industrial forestry plantations, mining permits, transport infrastructure, and so on, all of which take place with insufficient prior protection of our fundamental rights, our right to land and livelihood and environmental conservation.
Based on this scenario, we would like to make the following recommendations:
- Urge the President of the Republic of Indonesia to arrange a meeting of stakeholders, involving local and national government decision-making bodies, companies, financial organisations and other relevant stakeholders, and most important of all, communities adversely affected by development. This activity should be a umbrella forum for critical dialogue aimed at resolving the problems that beset the Land of Papua.
- Demand and insist that local government formulates and issues local regulations focussed specifically on protecting rights to land and traditional justice in Papua.
- Demand and insist that the government conducts an evaluation and review of investment activities and permits to companies exploiting forest products, land and other natural assets, whether or not work has already started.
- Demand and insist that the government conduct a review and harmonisation of the various controversial regulations which are in conflict with indigenous Papuans' fundamental rights, and involves indigenous Papuans in this process.
- Urge and press companies to show true recognition and respect for indigenous Papuans' rights, and provide redress and rehabilitation where people's rights have previously been violated
- Demand that the government redoubles efforts to find a resolution of human rights violations and the problem of large-scale land-grabbing in Papua, such as the bloody Wasior case, the MIFEE project in Merauke and PTPN II in Keerom.
- Affected communities and civil society organisations should try to reach legal settlements without going through the courts and should engage in local, regional, national and international advocacy campaigns, such as: complaints to UN institutions dealing with human rights, indigenous peoples and the environment, the UN Universal Periodic Review, complaints to the RSPO (for oil palm cases), and reporting cases to the Corruption Eradication Commission.
- Affected communities and civil society organisations should take advocacy actions that don't involve litigation, including: campaigns about production supply chains and markets for commodities derived from land and forest belonging to the people, and improving networks of communications and media campaigns.
- Affected communities and civil society organisations should also build networks of paralegals (and build the capacity of those networks) within and between indigenous groups in Papua, as well as networks of lawyers who can defend the legal rights of indigenous Papuans as related to social, economic and cultural issues.
- Affected communities and civil society organisations should build and strengthen alternative economic community enterprises based on local indigenous wisdom and just and sustainable management of natural resources.
- Affected communities and civil society organisations should facilitate community organising, capacity building and strengthening community rights at the clan, tribal and village levels, and also between different areas, though education and alternative learning media such as films and storytelling, ancestral land mapping, strengthening local leadership systems, attempts at justice according to customary law, a critical knowledge of the law etc.
- Affected communities and civil society organisations should develop their strengths and movements together with the wider indigenous society to be able to press for changes in policy and for protection of the rights of indigenous peoples and of the Land of Papua.
- Affected communities and civil society organisations should build, strengthen and extend solidarity between affected communities in different areas, different islands and different groups, to act together to resist oppression, violence, human rights violations, land-grabbing, and all kinds of injustice.
- We also propose and determine that the 13th of June should be the Day of Indigenous Papuans Affected by Investment, which will be celebrated to remember victims of human rights violations, land-grabbing, the destruction of cultural sites and Papua peoples' identity, as well as environmental destruction. This day will be celebrated every year.
- We also propose and declare that a Conference of Indigenous Victims of Investment will be held in Merauke on 9th August 2017, as we mark World Indigenous Peoples' Day.
The land of the Moi people, Sorong City, 4th December 2016