Violence and Intimidation from PT Nabire Baru’s Brimob Guards continues

New reports continue to emerge of aggressive behaviour from Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers who have been stationed as security guards for PT Nabire Baru’s oil palm plantation near the city of Nabire. Here are a few of the most recent stories translated from local bloggers and activists. The first two articles are from a the Papales Mengabarkan blog. The third is an except from a longer piece based on the writings of Simon Petrus Hanebora, Yerisiam tribal chief who is frequently outspoken on how the oil palm companies are affecting local indigenous people. Hopefully a translation of that entire document will be uploaded to awasMIFEE soon.

Brimob are an elite police corps with militaristic training. Nevertheless in Papua and elsewhere it is still common for them to act as private security guards for businesses. Although PT Nabire Baru’s operations are not themselves legal (notably the company still hasn’t obtained approval for an environmental impact assessment), its Brimob guards have fiercely defended the company’s interests, by threatening, beating up and arresting opponents of the oil palm plantation. It is currently the clearest example in Papua of how plantation development is being forced on the Papuan people through the intimidation of state security forces.

Reports into the various problems around PT Nabire Baru tend to come from independent activists and bloggers, rather than NGOs or major media organisations. Government has been reluctant to issue information about the legal status of the various companies involved, which means that there are sometimes inconsistencies between the various different reports on these issues. awasMIFEE has translated the articles as they were written, but there are a few footnotes added where the original is not clear or there is doubt.

PT Nabire Baru, along with sister companies PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri and PT Sariwana Adi Perkasa, is a subsidiary of Sri Lankan multinational Carson Cumberbatch.

Defending Oil Palm Company, Brimob Point their Guns at an Indigenous Man

Brimob elite unit from Biak are stationed at PT Nabire Baru’s oil palm plantation at KM 16 Wami, Yaur District, Nabire.

These Brimob guards have a history of being out of control in the area. The guards who were originally requested by PT Nabire Baru to guard the company’s assets, are becoming more arrogant and discriminative as time goes on.

Some time ago one of the indigenous customary landowners at the plantation site, who was working for PT Nabire Baru, had guns pointed at him and was terrorised by Brimob members guarding the oil palm company.

The incident took place on Thursday 17th July 2014, commencing at 15.10, when Imanuel Monei (a customary landowner) wished to admonish the company about a contractor which was engaged in building a company barracks / mess. Imanuel complained to the company because he felt that the company had violated the terms of a memorandum of understanding undertaken between the company and the customary landowners. According to Imanuel Monei’s account to this website, he said that the company had violated several points of the agreements in the MoU they had drawn up which stated “ All work (employee’s mess, living space, etc) which could be called construction projects, will be undertaken by indigenous landowners through the co-operatives they will form, and the work cannot be given to any other party aside from the customary landowner.” However, the company had ignored that agreemeny by giving the work to a contractor.

Because of that Imanuel Monei warned the company, saying that it would have to stop the construction work, because it contravened their commitment to the customary rights holders. The company didn’t give a response, instead they called Brimob security guards to arrest Imanuel. Several moments later a platoon of Brimob approached Imanuel fully armed, and pointed their guns at him while saying “Get out of here or we will shoot you on the spot, you Papuan who doesn’t know his place, acting like you know it all, in a moment you’re gonna be full of holes”. Feeling threatened, Imanuel left that place, and just told the company to stop the construction work, and that the company must be responsible for the what it had already done.

Since that incident, the customary landowners have taken the step of stopping work for PT Nabire Baru, and this has been ongoing for three days.1 They have also asked the Nabire District Legistlative Council to call on the company and the Nabire police chief as the one responsible for the Brimob unit, and ask them to take responsibility for this issue.

For your information, this is not the first time that Brimob security guards have been aggressive to local people, there have been several previous incidents where customary rights holders or employees have been harrassed by Brimob members (Read also :

Since 2013, when Brimob arrived in the oil palm plantation, Brimob members have been involved in eight sadistic incidents but these have not been published.


Nabire Indigenous Peoples’ Association urges Police Chief to withdraw all Brimob troops from the Nabire Area.

Indigenous groups have started to take clear positions as a response to various cases where security guards from the Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) have caused extreme anxiety amongst local people due to their actions in the Nabire area.

Amongst others, speaking for the Indigenous People’s Association (Lembaga Masyarakat Adat or LMA) in the Nabire area, it’s leader Ayub Kowoy said “Nabire is not a conflict area, so there is no need for Brimob to be present in Nabire as security guards.” speaking to this website several days ago.

The LMA leader added that Nabire had been peaceful for some time before the Brimob troops were brought to the area, so actually it is their prescence which is creating conflict in Nabire.

He also made it clear that he was asking the Papuan Police Chief to immediately withdraw Brimob security from the whole Nabire area, because several incidents had already occurred around Nabire.

For your information there are four Brimob platoons currently in Nabire, two from the Brimob Security unit in Biak Regency and two more from the Manokwari Brimob unit.

These units originally came to provide security for the 2014 legislative and presidential elections in Nabire. However, what has happened now is that they are providing security for companies that are operating in Nabire.2

The companies they are providing security for include the oil palm plantation PT Nabire Baru in Wami which is guarded by the Brimob unit from Biak. Meanwhile the Manokwari Brimob is guarding the logging company PT Jati Dharma Indah in Yaro, Wanggar District, which it should be noted does not have a permit to extract timber.3

Since the Brimob guards have been stationed in Nabire several incidents have taken place, including an aggression towards the deputy Regency leader, an aggression to a member of the 1705 PWY Nabire District Military Command, the stabbing of a policeman from the main police station, and the assault on employees of the oil palm company and the recent case where a customary landowner was threatened with a gun.



The policing of PT Nabire Baru (excerpt from ‘Yerisiam Indigenous people’s sovereignty thwarted by investment’)

Examining PT Nabire Baru’s operation from a security and policing aspect, we see that the military approach is still the standard practice for investors everywhere. PT Nabire Baru frequently uses police mobile brigade from the Papuan provincial force who act as security guards for the company. Acts of violence which have taken place since Brimob members were posted as security guards include, amongst others:

1 Beating up a worker who was demanding that his wages were not fair for the work done. The man was tortured until he involuntarily defacated.

2. Beating up Titus Money when he demanded wages that were being withheld. The victim was an employee and also a customary rights holder

3. Frequently confiscating wood on the roads illegally, and demanding payment.

4. Having the opportunity to create wider vertical or horizontal conflict, such as happened in Wasior.

5. The latest incident involved striking the deputy Bupati.

6. The Regional Military Commander went to Nabire to get involved in the oil palm business. The Papuan Military Commander Major General Christian Zebua arrived in Nabire on 11th September 2013. His visit was accorded extra tight security from police and military guards from Nabire. The media were warned that they were forbidden to report or publish stories about the commander’s visit. He was picked up directly by an entourage including the Nabire Bupati, Legislative Council chief, District Military commander, the Nabire police chief, the director of PT Nabire Baru and PT Sariwana Unggal Mandiri. Closely guarded, they travelled directly to the oil palm area in Wami, Yaur district, West Nabire.

7. Local indigenous people have been labelled with the stigma of being OPM separatists, a crafty trick of corporations and security forces to strike down the indigenous people’s attempts to defend their sovereignty over the land of their ancestors. An example is the incident which took place on 2nd March 2014

On that day Otis Waropen, a resident of Kampung Sima in Yaur district, who was cultivating a forest garden near to the Bamboo River in Wami, was accused of being a member of (or courier for) the TPN-OPM. A unit of the Police Mobile Brigade acting as security with the oil palm plantation, alongside additional police officers from the Nabire headquarters were sent fully armed to the area to arrest the suspect. Otis Waropen was charged with the offence and held in the Nabire Police Station.

The incident compelled the chief of the Yerisiam ethnic group (SP Hanebora) to speak out in his role as protector of the indigenous people. On 3rd March 2014, SP Hanebora considered that it was a great pity something like this could happen. “The majority of my people live from their forest gardens, and so it is normal for them to stay days or months or even years in the forest. When people who had lived on the sea came to land they started farming in the forest, they are farmers,… just like fisherfolk live on the oceans. I deeply regret this situation because my people are not involved in politics or so on, but now the police start making accusations and create problems which are disturbing the everyday livelihoods of people in my tribe. Because they need to go to the forest every day to tend their gardens, go hunting and so on” he explained.4

The Yerisiam people do not tremble as they express indigenous rights in the face of the authorities’ threats and halucinations. Through the tribal chief, they routinely bring these problems to the public attention. This can be through statements, letters that are sent to concerned parties or expressing their dissent through press releases or even getting involved in process such as that described above, with one aim “give the indigenous people back what is rightfully theirs and respect the sovereignty of the indigenous people who were there long before the state arrived”.

Source: excerpt from

  1. awasMIFEE note – not sure what this stoppage means, who all stopped work, whether the indigenous landowners made a customary blockade or not, and for how long 

  2. awasMIFEE note: there were certainly Brimob guarding PT Nabire Baru’s plantation since long before the April and August elections, so this point is not entirely clear. Possibly the Brimob fro Biak were the new arrivals? 

  3. awasMIFEE note: PT Jati Dharma Indah does have a forest management permit which expires in 2017, on the same land which PT Nabire Baru was given an oil palm plantation location permit. Other reports have stated that PT JDI has not been active for many years. As mentioned above, few people seem to have accurate information about the status of the various companies involved in the area.  

  4. awasMIFEE note: Activists familiar with the situation in Nabire have confirmed that Otis Waropen was released, possibly as a result of SP Hanebora’s intervention  

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