17 clans in Ngguti District make a complaint about PT Dongin Prabhawa to National Human Rights Commission.

Around 42,000 hectares of indigenous land around several villages in Ngguti District in Merauke Regency has been clearfelled since 2009 by PT Dongin Prabhawa in order to develop an oil palm plantation.

Sacred places and sago groves were included in the area cleared. Now 17 clans are reporting the company to the National Human Rights Commission in Jakarta.

An indigenous woman from Merauke, Elizabeth Ndiwaen-Mahuze, told Frans L. Kobun from Tabloid Jubi on Saturday 4th April that PT Dongin Prabhawa had been operational since 2009, developing an oil palm plantation. When the company first appeared, it made many promises, such as to build houses for the community, to provide cars and to pay for children’s education up to university level, but these promises had yet to materialise. In the meantime, the forest has been cleared, even including the sacred places and sago groves that have been passed down from the ancestors.

She explained that last November, after a the community from 17 clans in several villages in Ngguti District had reached an agreement, she had been entrusted by them to report the matter to the National Human Rights Commission in Jakarta. “Before I went to the Human Rights Commission, I first discussed the issue with several NGOs in Jakarta. After that I went to the Human Rights Commission to file the report, bring ing all the relevant documents about the forest clearance,” she said.

Elizabeth regards the destruction of thousands of hectares of the community’s forest as a form of gross human rights violation. “What I told the Human Rights Commission should be responded to swiftly. We wish and hope that the Human Rights Commission will come to Merauke and see the state of the community’s forest that has been clear felled and planted with palm oil”, was her request.

When asked about their demands for compensation, Elizabeth claimed that the community had agreed to demand 30 billion Rupiah. However, the original payment was only 5 billion and the latest payment, in 2014, only came to 1.7 billion Rupiah. That means that the remainder, around 23 billion, has yet to be paid. In the meantime, the company operations continue. They have even started to harvest the oil palm and bring it out of the area.

She confirmed that a community delegation representing the 17 clans had come to the city and directly conveyed this demand. But because the company had not really responded, they have taken the step of reporting PT Dongin Prabhawa to the Human Rights Commission in Jakarta.

“We are the customary rights holders and our demands concern the land the company has already used, destroying thousands of hectares including sacred places, just to develop oil palm plantations. The communities have kept on approaching the company, but the company has not responded”, she said.

Every time the Merauke Regency Head meets communities he always makes clear that the government will not overly intervene concerning investment activities by companies. If the community agrees to it, then investment can go ahead.

“I also always press investing companies to pay attention to sacred places and sago forests, and safeguard them. They should not be cleared as part of investment work. Aside from this, companies should prepare land especially for the customary land rights holders to develop their agriculture business,” he said.

Source: Tabloid Jubi http://tabloidjubi.com/2015/04/05/hutan-dibabat-17-marga-adukan-pt-dongin-prabawa-ke-komnas-ham-ri/

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