Environmental Activists from Papua Protest in Jakarta to Protect Indigenous Forests

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Environmental activists from the Moi tribe in South Sorong, Papua Barat Daya, and the Awyu tribe in Boven Digoel, South Papua, protested in front of the Supreme Court in Jakarta to advocate for their indigenous forests.. Photo by: Special

PALMOILMAGAZINE, JAKARTA – On Monday, May 27, 2024, environmental activists from the Moi tribe in South Sorong, Papua Barat Daya, and the Awyu tribe in Boven Digoel, South Papua, protested in front of the Supreme Court in Jakarta to advocate for their indigenous forests.

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Dressed in traditional attire from their respective tribes, the representatives performed prayers and indigenous rituals before Indonesia’s highest court. They were supported by students from eastern Indonesia and various civil organizations.

“We have undertaken a long, complicated, and expensive journey from Papua to the capital, Jakarta, to urge the Supreme Court to restore our rights over indigenous forests by halting palm oil plantation permits that we are still contesting,” said Hendrikus Woro, an environmental campaigner from the Awyu tribe, as quoted by Palmoilmagazine.com from Betahita on Wednesday (29/5/2024).

Also Read: Awyu Tribe Protests Customary Forest Turned into Oil Palm Land

Hendrikus criticized the Papua Province authorities for issuing environmental eligibility permits to PT Indo Asiana Lestari (IAL). PT IAL received an environmental permit for approximately 36,094 hectares, an area still within the indigenous forests of the Woro tribe, which is more than half the size of DKI Jakarta.

The first and second level – sue of Hendrikus was failed. The cassation – the Supreme Court – would be his last hope to maintain the indigenous forests that inherits for years and become the sources of living for the Woro for generations.

Besides him, some indigenous people of the Awyu conducted cassation to the case with PT Kartika Cipta Pratama (KCP) and PT Megakarya Jaya Raya (MJR). The two companies did expansion in Boven Digoel. PT KCP and PT MJR was failed in Jakarta Administrative Court but won in the Administration High Court, Jakarta.

“We get tortured for a very long time because the plans to develop palm oil plantations in our indigenous forests. We raised our children by getting from the nature. Palm oil would damage our forests, we reject it,” Rikarda Maa, a female of the Awyu.

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It was the second act from the Awyu. Prior, the did the same in the Administrative High Court, Manado to get appeal that Hendrikus Woro and the Awyu indigenous people protested on 1 March 2024.

Meanwhile, the Moi from Sub the Sigin is fighting PT Sorong Agro Sawitindo (SAS) that would cut off 18.160 hectares of the Moi Sigin indigenous forests to develop palm oil plantations. PT SAS got concession areas for about 40 thousand hectares in Regency of Sorong. In 2022, the central government revoked forest release permit of PT SAS and then also revoked its business permit. But PT SAS sued the government through Administrative High Court, Jakarta.

The representatives of the Moi Sigin fought as the intervention defendant in Jakarta Administrative High Court in December 2023. After the judge rejected the sue in the early of January 2024, the Moi Sigin proposed cassation to the Supreme Court on 3 May 2024.

“I urged the Supreme Court to serve the justice for us, the indigenous people. Our indigenous forests are the place to hunt and get sago. Forests are the pharmacy for us; we have everything from the forest. PT SAS is a disaster for us. If we lose our forests, where will we go?” Fiktor Klafiu, the representative of the Moi Sigin as the intervention defendant, said.

Tigor Hutapea, the member of the Awyu and Moi’s attorney from Pusaka Bentala Rakyat said that palm oil companies – PT IAL and PT SAS would damage the forests that become the sources of lives, foods, water, medicine, culture, knowledge, and insight of the Awyu and Moi. The forests are the habitat for endemic flora and fauna in Papua, and the place to keep carbon in big numbers. The operational of PT IAL and PT SAS could trigger deforestation that would release about 25 million tons of CO2 to the atmosphere, endager climate crisis in Indonesia.

“We urged the Supreme Court would carefully examine the sue of the Awyu and Moi, understand the environmental protection, and the rights of the indigenous people, and also publish sentence of winning for the Awyu and Moi. The judge should prioritize justice for the environment and climate that the impacts would not be for the Awyu and the Moi but also other people in Indonesia,” Hutapea said.

Sekar Banjaran Aji, Forest Campaigner of Greenpeace Indonesia said that the Awyu and Moi had to face complicated process to maintain their indigenous forests. even though the sentence of the court was not what they hoped for, they keep searching for the justice served.

“The struggle of the Awyu and Moi is the most honored thing for their indigenous forests, lives for their grandchildren and the future and indirectly for every one of us. We take others to support the fight of the Awyu and Moi to save the forests in Papua that would be the fortress to face climate crisis,” she said.

Greenpeace and Pusaka Bentala are the members of Koalisi Selamatkan Hutan Adat Papua that develop the fight of the Awyu and Moi. (T2)

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