Translation of a Press Release from a Coalition of Civil Society Organisations
On 16th July 2016 soldiers from the sub-district military command in Muting, Merauke Regency, came to look for Agustinus Dayo Mahuze, the chair of the Mahuze clan in Muting village, at his house. Their intention was to invite him to meet with the bosses of oil palm company PT Agriprima Cipta Persada (ACP) at the plantation site, and also to deliver a notice signed by the chair of the Kartika Setya Jaya co-operative, a military business linked to the District Military Comand 1707 in Merauke. The letter was dated 11th July 2016 and with reference number 8/16/VII/2016, and it gave notice of a permit of a work contract to clear land for oil palm in PT ACP’s concession..
The soldiers from the sub-district military command met Agustinus Dayo Mahuze away from his house, on the road towards Mbilanggo village, that afternoon, and stated the purpose of their visit. When the military officers told Agustinus Dayo about the plans between the co-operative and the company he felt threatened, afraid and anxious.
PT ACP’s has often involved the military and police in support of its business interests, and they have participated in activities related to obtaining the right to use land and in clearing land. This work has been accompanied by intimidation and threats of violence, generating nervousness and tension between the local community and the company, government and police and military personnel. Evidence for this are the letters the community repeatedly sent to the government, the police and military and the National Human Rights Commission between January and July 2015, to which they received no meaningful response.
Before that, the community had already made their feelings clear to the government and company by erecting notices around their ancestral land that read “the greater Mahuze clan’s land is not to be used for oil palm”. The community are also hoping to resolve the problem of a few members of the clan who have yet to repay money which had been given to a them as land compensation and which is being considered as proof of the transfer of land title, despite the fact that the clan members who accepted it did so without the general agreement of the whole greater Mahuze clan.