Mairisi and Miere Tribes: We won’t sell our land

Konsul-Publik-Wasior-Menara-WasiorIn mid-April 2015, the Wondama Bay Regency government and the Environment Management Board gathered community representatives from the Mairasi, Miere and Wamesa tribes, who live in villages around Naikere, Kuriwamesa and Rasiei (all in Wondama Bay Regency) for a meeting in the Rasiei District Office meeting room.

From the meeting’s outset, the community didn’t particularly like the issue being discussed, which was a public consultation on PT Menara Wasior’s plans for an oil palm plantation. Representatives and consultants from the company were also present.

Whispers went around the room when a consultant for the company started to speak. During the question and answer session, the community let loose all their criticisms and anger towards all corporate activity in the Wasior area, ranging from the building of government offices when the matter of compensation is yet to be settled, timber exploitation which brings no community benefits, the flooding disaster which terrified local people ((hundreds of people were killed in a flash flood in 2010)) and the history of past violence and human rights abuses which have left the community traumatised.

The majority of local people present did not agree and opposed the company’s plans, “We don’t agree with the company, even though there have been three or four meetings like this, we still don’t agree. We remember the impact, we remember the environmental impact on people’s livelihoods and on this promised land, we don’t want it, full stop”, said a resident of Rasiei, and other participants echoed this by saying “Amen”.

Informal meetings have been organised several times by the company, facilitated by local government officials and certain indigenous community figures. The community continues to express its opposition, but the company still perseveres in its attempts to get the community to agree to let it manage the land. There are also several community members who support the plan and hope to get some benefit from the company.

Community leaders from the Mairasi and Miere tribes fundamentaly oppose PT Menara Wasior coming and working to their ancestral land. On 12th April 2015, they prepared a statement asking the local government to revoke the company’s permit, giving the following reasons (1) We won’t sell our land for large scale plantations, (2) The land and forest is our source of livelihood, (2) The land and forest is our inheritance, handed down from our ancestors to their grandchildren, (4) The land and forest are our mother; (5) From the experience of companies that have been around previously, there are no positive impacts for the community which owns the land and forest.

“We’re asking the Government of Indonesia to take the people’s statement seriously”, said Konstan Natama, an indigenous community figure from Mairasi and supporter of the statement.

PUSAKA in Jakarta has sent a letter of complaint about this issue to the Environment and Forestry Minister (26/6/2015) and has met the head of the Secretariat for Complaints Concerning Environment and Forestry Cases, Kemal, who told us that he would promptly send a letter to the head of the complaints team. Pusaka’s complaint letter can be read in Indonesian here.

About PT Menara Wasior

There is not much information available about the oil palm plantation company PT Menara Wasior. One known address for the company is Jalan Sukamulya Nomor 179, Peta Lingkar Selatan, Bandung, Jawa Barat, telephone number 022 6030855. This is also the address of PT Rimbun Menara Indonesia, a contractor company with operations in Fakfak, West Papua Province. This company is believed to be linked to another oil palm company PT Rimbun Sawit Papua, and it is thought that these two companies were controlled by a businessman name Jef Setiawan Winata.

It may well be that PT Menara Wasior also belongs to Jef Setiawan Winata, who is also the owner of the Hotel Grand Papua in Fakfak. In 2014, Jef Setiawan Winata was examined by the Papua public prosecutor’s office in relation to a corruption case concerning the use of state funds to buy cattle where 130 billion Rupiah of the budget was misused out of a total 280 billion Rupiah.

PT Rimbun Sawit Papua is believed to have sold its shares to the Salim Group (Indofoods), leading to speculation that PT Menara Wasior might also have some connection to the Salim Group which be using Jef Winata as an agent to obtain permits and land. On the ground, the community has heard that workers and consultants for PT Menara Wasior have experience with Salim Group companies.

PT Menara Wasior has obtained an in-principle permit from the Bupati of Wondama Bay, location permit number 1/2014, and also a Plantation Permit (Number 525/25/BU-TW/V/2014). The forestry ministry has also issued document S.466/Menhut-II/214, dated 29 September 2014, which was an in-principle to release state forest land currently classified as production forest available for conversion into an 28,880 hectare oil palm plantation, located around the Wosimi watershed, Naikere and Kuriwamesa Districts, Wondama Bay Regency, West Papua Province.

Source: PUSAKA

[awasMIFEE note: It should be clear from the last paragraphs that the ownership of PT Menara Wasior is still speculation. However there are several pointers to a link with the Salim Group – another business address listed by the company in Jalan Ahmad Yani in Jakarta is also home to Salim Group company PT Kayu Lapis Asli Murni (Kalamar). The Salim Group has the second largest planted area of any private company in Indonesia, over 300,000 hectares]

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