ANJ Agri case: prosecution demands prison sentences for indigenous protesters Obet Korie and Odi Aitago

CKrCvuEUwAAxWP3Speaking in front of the Judges’ bench in the Sorong District Court, state prosecutor Katrina Dimara accused Obet and Obi of having violated article 170 of the Indonesian Criminal Code, and asked the council of judges to hand down prison sentences – one year for Obet Korie and eight months for Odi Aitago, less the time already spent in prison.

Obet Korie and Odi Aitago are indigenous Papuaans from the Iwaro ethnic group in South Sorong Regency, who have become victims of injustice from oil palm company PT Permata Putera Mandiri, a subsidiary company of Austindo Nusantara Jaya (ANJ) Group, which operates on land belonging to the local indigenous people.

Three subsidiary companies of PT ANJ are starting oil palm operations in South Sorong and nearby Maybrat Regencies: PT. Putera Manunggal Perkasa (PMP), PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM) and PT Pusaka Agro Makmur, with permits covering a total area of 91,209 hectares. ANJ also has another business unit called PT ANJ Agri Papua which manages the sago forest and associated processing industry in Metamani and Kokonau Districts of South Sorong Regency, an area of 40,000 hectares.

On 5th May 2015, Obet Korie (52 years old) and Odi Aitago (27 years old) and dozens more people from the Iwaro people who protested at the PT PPM office in Sorong City, were arrested and held at the Sorong City police station, with Obet Korie and Odi Aitago remaining in detention.

According to Simon Soren, a representative of the Iwaro students, “The people protested against the company which is unjustly seizing land and forest which rightfully belongs to the community, giving an unfair level of compensation (75,000 Rupiah (around $6) per hectare), with a lack of transparency so information is manipulated, using intimidating practices and so on, as well as the environmental crimes of damaging natural resources, destroying food sources and the source of the community’s livelihood”.

It was these injustices and development practices which violate indigenous rights which were the basis for the demands of Obet Korie and Odi Aitago, the other arrested community members, youth and students in their demonstrations and attempts to negotiate with the company. However, their demands for justice and for their rights to be upheld were not met, and instead they have been criminalised.

Simon is asking that the Council of Judges at the Sorong District Court give the lightest possible sentence, taking into account the efforts of the two men to struggle for justice and the future livelihoods of the Papuan people.

“We also want to ask law-enforcement officers and local and national government to form a team which would involve the community to investigate and examine the allegations the ANJ Group has broken the law, and impose a just penalty”, said Simon, who was also present at the hearing where the prosecution’s demands were read out.

Source: Pusaka

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