Papua, Jubi – A special mission from the World Council of Churches has criticised the ongoing human rights violations by Indonesian security forces in the West Papua region after its five-day visit to Indonesia last week and has called for “more openness” by the authorities.
It is also said Papuan people seemed to be “systemically marginalised” and urged more dialogue without conditions.
The ecumenical delegation coordinated by the WCC visited Indonesia on February 15-22, including the provinces of Papua and Papua Barat (West Papua) – where increasing violence and discrimination against indigenous Papuan people was recently highlighted in a joint statement by five UN human rights mandate-holders.
The purpose of the delegation’s visit was to express solidarity and encourage member churches and related organisations in their efforts for justice and peace in Indonesia.
While in Papua and Papua Barat, the delegation members met local church leaders, victims of human rights violations and conflict, traditional leaders, the governors of both provinces and other local government representatives, and Indonesian military and police officials in Jayapura, Manokwari, Merauke and Wamena.
“Access to the Papua region has been severely restricted in the past,” said WCC director for international affairs Peter Prove.
“We greatly appreciate the fact that Indonesian authorities enabled our delegation’s visit to take place, and we hope that this will be the beginning of more openness and increased access for others to the territory and its people.”
However, members of the delegation were alarmed to hear from almost all the Papuans they met of the severity of the problems they continue to face.
Dr Jochen Motte, deputy general secretary of United Evangelical Mission, said: “As somebody who had the opportunity to be part of the WCC team visit in 1999, it was sad to realise that the issues mentioned in the report at that time today are almost the same and that the Special Autonomy Status … could not meet the expectations of the Papuan people and bring an end to discrimination and human rights violations.”
The Special Autonomy Law was enacted in 2001 as a basis for Papuans to play a role in determining their own political, social, cultural and economic development within the Republic of Indonesia.
But almost all Papuans the delegation members encountered – including local government officials – considered Special Autonomy a failure, and that its most important elements had not been implemented.
The delegation was concerned to learn that due to migration and demographic shifts, indigenous Papuans now form a minority in their own land.
Landgrabbing, environmental degradation and accelerating destruction of the forest and river resources upon which Papuans’ livelihoods traditionally depended were frequent complaints heard by the delegation.
According to Papuan counterparts the prevailing development model in the territory “is for others, not for us”.
Dr Emily Welty, vice-moderator of the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs, said: “Papuan people seem to be systemically marginalised and excluded in all areas of life.”
In Wamena and Jayapura, delegation members met internally-displaced people who had fled from conflict and Indonesian military and police operations in the Nduga region following an incident on 2 December 2018 in which 21 road construction workers were reported killed by an armed group.
The total number of IDPs is unknown, but many are thought to be still taking refuge in the forest without support.
Bishop Abednego Keshomshahara of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Tanzania said: “It was painful to see so many child victims of this violence who fear to return home because of the presence of military and police who should be the ones protecting them in their villages and schools.”
During the visit to Papua the delegation received a joint appeal from the leaders of four churches in Papua – the GKI-TP, the KINGMI Church in Tanah Papua, the Evangelical Church in Tanah Papua (GIDI), and the Fellowship of Baptist Churches of Papua – calling for international ecumenical support for a comprehensive political dialogue for the resolution of the situation in Papua.
Rev. James Bhagwan, general secretary of the Pacific Conference of Churches, said: “It is clear that dialogue without preconditions is the only path forward in such a situation as we encountered in Papua.”
Organised as part of the WCC’s “Pilgrimage of Justice and Peace”, the visit focused on issues concerning religious freedom and inter-religious harmony in Indonesia, and the human rights situation in Papua. (Asian Pasific Report)
WWF conduct community forest management training
Jayapura, Jubi – The World Wide Fund for Nature or WWF-Indonesia conducted training for indigenous people to manage their customary forests.
The training was a response to illegal logging occurred in Papua as well as illegal timber companies who take benefits on timber sales in Papua by purchasing wood at a low price then selling in in the market with the higher price.
To address this issue, WWF-Indonesia held a specific training on wood harvesting planning technique using the Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) method on Tuesday, 13 August 2019, in Jayapura. Participated in the training were indigenous people holding a Business License for the Utilization of Indigenous Forest Timber Products (IUPHHKA-MA) whom members of Koperasi Serba Usaha (KSU-a cooperative).
Piter Roki Aloisius, the Northern Papua Landscape Manager of WWF-Indonesia, told Jubi that WWF involved seven groups of the provincial legal timber business permits holders who are accompanied by WWF in this training.
“There are 13 groups, but not all working due to the implementation of Governor Regulation No. 13 on the Business Permit for the Utilization of Customary Community Timber Forest Product. Also, there is no synchronization between the provincial government and the central government related to the Forestry Law Number 41 of 2019 with Perdasus (special regional law) Number 21 of 2010 in Papua Province, “he said.
The seven KSUs and an ecotourism business group of WWF’s fostering groups are located in various regencies. They are KSU Mo Make Unaf from Merauke, KSU Jibogol from Jayapura, KSU Nafa from Nabire, KSU Kumea Ampas from Keerom, KSU Sapusaniye from Sarmi, and KSU Kornu and KSU Year Asai from Yapen Island Kepulauan Yapen, with the total of concession area of 33,691 hectares, whereas the ecotourism group Rhepang Muaif is located in Nimbonkrang Sub-district of Jayapura Regency.
So far, no coordination was made regarding the issuance of NSPK. However, while waiting for the issuance of NSPK, Aloysius said that WWF is responsible for fostering the established group by providing technical assistance.
“So, these groups will understand why they cannot carry out activities until now. However, by the time they got their NSPK, they will ready to manage their forests independently in sustainably and responsibly manners. Also, after this training they will understand how to manage the timber and forest products properly by reducing the impacts of its utilization,” he said.
He also explained that so far indigenous Papuans were not visibly utilizing their forest products. However, he believes that through a series of training and mentoring, indigenous people can take an initiative to carry out customary forest management.
“In Papua, if indigenous people process can process their timber by themselves, their daily income will higher,” he said.
According to him, the local community sell woods from the customary forest at the price ranging of Rp 300 thousand per tree, but a businessman sells the wood to the city market at a higher price. So, the local community loses twice because of this businessman.
“Community empowerment to improve the welfare of indigenous peoples is not only the responsibility of NGOs but also the government,” he said.
Meanwhile, Andreas Simoberef from KSU Tetom Jaya in Sarmi Regency said after being accompanied by WWF, he had opened a furniture industry. The income from this industrial business is higher than selling wood at a low price and the forest is being damaged, while it needs decades to growing trees.
He just opened this business for a year and found enthusiastic demand. Therefore, he is unable to serve all orders in a month. “This is a sign that indigenous peoples should not sell the wood. If indigenous peoples carry the timber management by themselves, they earn more income,” he said. (*)
Reporter: David Sobolim
Editor: Maizier Pipit
Who actually benefits from the Trans Papua Highway?
Papua, Jubi – Indonesian Institute of Science (LIPI) researcher Cahyo Pamungkas says that the Trans Papua Highway has yet to bring any benefits to the Papuan people.
“The benefits for indigenous people can’t be seen yet. So people ask who exactly is the road for? Because the there is still illegal logging in the central highlands, the highlands are being destroyed, it’s easier for outsiders to exploit natural resources”, said Pamungkas at a press conference on the conflict in Nduga regency at the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation (LBH) offices in Jakarta on Thursday July 18.
Pamungkas explained that instead of benefiting ordinary Papuans, the Trans Papua Highway threatens their economic wellbeing.
“Pig livestock from Toraja comes into Wamena. So the Wamena’s people’s pigs don’t sell. This threatens their economy. It is increasingly easy for outsiders to come to Wamena, so Wamena people see the road as a threat to their future”, explained Pamungkas.
Pamungkas said that the Trans Papua Highway project only connects regencies or cities and the benefits of this are not felt by the Papuan people. Meanwhile roads between villages and districts which are in fact what is actually needed are not being built.
“Yet roads like this (between villages and districts) are very important, for example simply to sell vegetables produced by farmers in markets”, said Pamungkas.
According to Pamungkas, the Trans Papua Highway actually facilitates the exploitation of natural resources which can be seen from large number of trees being felled and gold mining.
“Moreover when LIPI researched development on this road, we found many logging camps for logging in the direction of the Papua Lorentz National Park, which should a protected area”, explained Pamungkas.
Pamungkas is of the view that the government should immediately hold a dialogue with Papuan social leaders with the assistance of appropriate mediators.
“Because the most important thing at the moment is liberating the Papuan people from the memory of suffering which has built up over time. Particularly the acts of violence by security forces which has resulted in trauma for the residents of Nduga regency, Papua province”, he explained.
Local people’s rights
Expressing a similar view to Pamungkas, Amnesty International Indonesia researcher Aviva Nababan believes that the Trans Papua Highway does not provide any clear benefits. He also questions the government’s planning process for the road.
“Looking at it again from the process. Did the government design its function by thinking about the rights of the people the road impacts on? Did they really follow the principles of involving local communities? If not, this needs to be fixed. We think it shouldn’t be seen from the perspective of western Indonesia. There’s a road, lovely. There’s a road, great”, said Nababan at Jakarta LBH on Friday July 19.
Nababan warned that Indonesia has a commitment to fulfill the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) meaning that it must involve local communities in all development planning.
He also asked the government to respect the rights of indigenous Papuans. Because according to Amensty’s research, there have been alleged human rights (HAM) violations which have made Nduga residence traumatised and afraid of the security forces.
“When there are problems of HAM violations related to law enforcement in Papua, the tendency is that the cases are rarely investigated. Let alone followed up, or satisfactory accountability”, he explained. (*)
Do you know how vital Papua is for the environment?
By Benjamin Ware
DO you know how vital Papua is for the environment? This province in Eastern Indonesia is home to the last big area of intact forest in the country, and one of the world’s most biodiverse. It is also the poorest part of Indonesia – nearly 30% of people here live in poverty.
Growing palm oil can be a way out of this poverty trap, but it also brings with it the risk of deforestation. In 2018 Greenpeace exposed large-scale deforestation in Papua linked to palm oil business Gama, which was then suspended from our supply chain.
That same year, Nestlé suspended 10 companies for violating our Responsible Sourcing Standard. Three for illegal deforestation in Papua, and one for the same offense in neighboring West Papua. This shows the seriousness of deforestation as a local issue.
What happens after we suspend a company from our supply chain?
Some companies continue with ‘business as usual’, while others sell off their remaining forested lands. Others, like Gama, act to halt deforestation and commit to ‘No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation’ (NDPE) – the basis of responsible palm oil production and a requirement of our Responsible Sourcing Standard.
At Nestlé, we want to support companies like Gama to produce sustainable palm oil. Indeed, efforts are ongoing to develop standard re-entry criteria that suppliers found guilty of illegal deforestation must meet, before buying companies let them back into their supply chains.
Verifying supplier claims
We wanted to see Gama’s commitment to responsible production first hand, which is why Nestlé visited Papua in early 2019 with the NGO Aidenvironment Asia and one of our suppliers.
On the ground, we saw how Gama is implementing its new NDPE commitment, which involves working with Aidenvironment Asia on a remediation strategy for their lands in Papua and other parts of Indonesia.
Their work involves replanting ‘riparian zones’ (transitional zones between land and water) and deforested areas unplanted with palm oil, developing conservation plans for forested lands in Gama’s ‘land bank’, and generating compensation plans for lands cleared and planted.
Using concession maps from the supplier, Nestlé was able to monitor Gama’s sites via Starling. Since September 2018, this satellite-based system allows us to monitor our entire global palm oil supply chain for evidence of deforestation.
Satisfied with what we saw, we allowed Gama back into our supply chain on the condition that it does not clear any more forest or peatland (Aidenvironment will monitor this, and Nestlé also using Starling). Gama must also implement recovery and compensation plans that take account of local community needs.
Safeguarding people and planet
To some people, our move to allow Gama back into our supply chain before it completes its remediation plans might seem hasty. But we took this decision with one of our key Responsible Sourcing objectives in mind – what is best for people and planet.
In Papua, proper planning to support conservation and sustainable economic development is vital. Local communities want Gama to develop their lands. If Gama does not do so, it runs the risk of losing the lands, which another, less scrupulous company could then clear.
At the same time, conservation is vital. Locals we met also want to conserve their local forest, which is central to their culture. Indonesia’s government thinks similarly – it wants to develop the region whilst conserving 90% of its forest cover under the Papua Province Vision.
The situation is complex, and the need to balance conservation and development objectives is not unique to Indonesia. In South America, West Africa and beyond, we face similar challenges.
Nonetheless, if you take one message from this blog – this is it. We can only preserve forests by supporting those companies that embrace forest conservation as part of a sustainable economic development plan.
By excluding those companies that are found guilty of deforestation, but work hard thereafter to do the right thing, we risk endangering the magnificent forests that remain. (*)
The author is Global Head of Responsible Sourcing
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