Maranatha Declaration (concerning permits for extractive industries and indigenous Papuans’ rights)

We are the 42 participants in a workshop to review policy on permits for use of natural resources and protecting indigenous rights in Papua, which included representatives of the following indigenous groups Awyu (Boven Digoel), Yerisiam (Nabire), Amungme (Mimika), Armati (Sarmi), Manum, Abrar and Marap (Keerom), Elseng (Jayapura), as well as civil society organisations from Papua and Jakarta. We met in the Maranatha Convent in Waena, Jayapura, Papua Province on 21st and 22nd November 2017, to discuss and critique policy around permits for natural resource exploitation, the management of land and forests, how investment works in practice and its impacts on local communities, and efforts to protect the rights of indigenous Papuans. This meeting was attended by speakers from institutions which are part of the provincial government, including the Investment Agency and Integrated One-stop Service Centre, and the Forestry and Plantation Agencies.

The meeting was held at a moment when the Tembagapura crisis was ongoing, violence and human rights violations were taking place in locations around the land of Papua, as well as the criminalisation of indigenous people, land-grabbing, the destruction of forests and of important or sacred sites for indigenous peoples. All this happens, amongst other reasons, because of the expansion of capital and increasing investment by extractive industries which exploit natural resources. These industries are violating the rights of indigenous Papuan women and men, there is a lack of recognition and protection of those rights, an unjust distribution of benefits, arbitrary behaviour by state security forces, a lack of transparency, corruption and weak law enforcement.

We note that the government is currently trying to promote and accelerate economic growth through large-scale investment in natural resource industries. The hope is that this investment will have multiple effects on other sectors, and will increase the incomes of both the government and its citizens. Based on statistics from 2017, in 2010 there were 118 projects with a realised investment value of 10.6 trillion Rupiah, whereas by 2016 there were 213 projects with a total realised investment value of 130.3 trillion Rupiah. The majority of interest in investment comes from private companies, whether foreign or domestic.

In our discussions, the government admitted that there are social, cultural and economic problems, such as a lack of respect and protection for land rights, conflict involving customary landowners, companies and government, there has been no proper community empowerment, the government has still not produced policies or programmes which support independent community enterprise to manage and use forest products, the government is still dependant on large-scale investors, there is still no master plan for investment, there is a tug-of-war over authority between local and central government, companies are operating that have violated regulations or other provisions, the transfer of ownership in companies without the consent of the community or government, the low capacity of government to monitor companies, and so on.

We also discussed indigenous people’s legal rights, their rights to justice and legal aid, the right to determine the course of development, the right to freedom, to feel safe, to a proper standard of living, the rights of women and children, the right to information and the right to a healthy environment. Government policies and programmes still aren’t fully seen to ensure, protect and respect these rights of indigenous people. In the same way, companies not shown a commitment to respect the rights of indigenous Papuans, and also ignore the principle of sustainable development.

Regarding its policy around issuing permits and the exploitation of natural resources in Papua, the government is neglecting people’s fundamental rights to determine policy around what kind of natural resource exploitation should be given permits to operate on indigenous land. Government and companies do not respect people’s right to freedom, which leads to intimidation and manipulation in the process of making decisions whether to accept or reject plans for using land and forest. Communities are only given the limited option to accept offers of compensation, profit-sharing schemes and promises of development, without having any other possible choices. Sometimes people are even forcibly moved and cleared off their ancestral land.

We also find that government and companies are not transparent and it is difficult to obtain information about permits or other company documents, and we suspect this is because of corruption and hidden agendas. Papuan women workers are exploited, are given employment as contract labour with low wages. Companies wipe out important or sacred sites and destroy food sources. Civil society activists who fight for indigenous rights and the environment, and even their families, experience pressure and threats, and criminalisation.

Indigenous victims of extractive industries and civil society organisations have been trying to struggle and advocate for changes in these unjust policies and development practices, and have urged the state and companies to make progress on recognition, protection and respect for the basic rights of indigenous Papuans. However, there is still a need for widespread support and solidarity from a wide range of groups if the ambitions of Papuans for dignity and sovereignty over their own lands are to be realised.

Based on discussions in the plenary and sharing critical views, we came to an agreement on the following recommendations.

  1. urge the government to truly comply with, acknowledge, respect and protect the constitutional rights of Papuan indigenous communities , including a recognition of the existence of ethnic Papuans [as a class] and their right to land.

  2. urge the central, provincial and local governments to review all policies and permits which violate human rights and indigenous people’s rights to life and livelihood, or those that are legally flawed or not in accordance with the law.

  3. urge the central, provincial and local governments to openly communicate the results of this review to the public and to impose penalties on permits to use land and forest products in Papua. Methods of resolution could include special tribunals, the government using its discretion to take action politically for justice, upholding the law and rectifying methods of managing land and forests.

  4. urge companies to adopt voluntary conventions and standards on human rights, the principle of Free Prior Informed Consent and sustainable natural resource management

  5. urge the government to take a serious approach to resolving problems of human rights abuses, the conflicts and complaints which have arisen connected to land grabbing and large-scale forest destruction, and return to the victims what is rightfully theirs.

  6. urge the government to devise policies and programmes which truly support a model of production and management of forest and agrarian resources which is based on the rights and knowledge of communities to engage in independent enterprise

  7. urge the government and companies to protect and respect women’s rights, including the right to land and to make decisions.

  8. urge the government to ensure the protection of activists fighting for indigenous communities and the environment, their freedom of expression and sense of safety, freedom from torture and from behaviour that is cruel, inhumane or demeaning to human dignity.

  9. urge the government to provide information such as policies and companies’ legal documents in a way that they can be easily and cheaply obtained by members of society, both online and in print or audiovisual form, as an embodiment of decent and clean government.

  10. urge the government to facilitate and document indigenous knowledge and wisdom around natural resource management, languages and customary practices. The government should also facilitate mapping of customary lands, and authorise and strengthen customary law and justice mechanisms, working together with local indigenous communities.

  11. support indigenous Papuans’ struggles to defend their fundamental rights and preserve and develop their rights to life and livelihood in an independent and dignified way. We support the attempts of indigenous people to revitalise and strengthen indigenous institutions and customary law to face the threats and pressure from politics and the exploitative and individualistic modern economy, and also struggle to change policies, permits and practices which deviate from this.

  12. appeal to those who claim to speak on behalf of communities to stop negotiating the large-scale release or sale of land, because this is not compatible with customary law and disadvantages indigenous communities living in or near the area. We want to make clear that any attempt to obtain rights to or to make use of indigenous Papuan’s ancestral domain must be through a consensus decision-making process involving the wider community, as well as people living nearby.

  13. support the struggle of civil society organisations to carry out advocacy, grassroots organisation, legal training and developing critical awareness within indigenous communities and amongst Papuan workers, to develop networks and build solidarity with wider society, to defend indigenous people’s rights and push for change in unjust policies, through the courts or otherwise, to campaign and facilitate communities to stand up for their rights and address the various problems they face, and to enable and promote knowledge of how to manage natural resources based on community rights and innovations in a just and sustainable way

Jayapura, 22 November 2017


  1. Engelbert Dimara, JERAT Papua

  2. Eirene M. Waromi, Pokja Dewan Adat Papua

  3. Decler C. Yesnat, Pokja Papua, Jayapura

  4. Lyndon B. Pangkali, aktivis lingkungan, Jayapura

  5. Pieter D, DAS ELSENG, Jayapura

  6. Dominika Tafor, Kom Yimnawa, Keerom

  7. Adolfina Kuum, MAI, Timika

  8. Fredrik H.A. Wanda, FPPNG, Jayapura

  9. Gunawan Inggeruhi, Suku Yerisiam Gua, Nabire

  10. Asrida Elisabeth, Mongabay, Jayapura

  11. Nelius Wenda, Gempar Papua, Jayapura

  12. David Sobolim, JUBI, Jayapura

  13. Mathelda Waring, APAS Adat, Jayapura

  14. Hans N. Raiki, KIP Papua, Jayapura

  15. Afinus Uaga, Sahabat Alam Papua, Jayapura

  16. Edegius P. Suam, LMA Boven Digoel, Tanah Merah

  17. Trifona Antoh, YADUPA, Jayapura

  18. Tinus Keike, MIPA Uncen, Jayapura

  19. Paulus Katamap, PTPPMA, Jayapura

  20. Arnold Pomen, Kampung Murar, Sarmi

  21. Karolina Onim, KPKC GKI, Jayapura

  22. Joel B.A. Wanda, KIP Papua, Jayapura

  23. Andriani S. Wally, KIP Papua, Jayapura

  24. Agustinus Kalalu, aktivis masyarakat adat Moi, Sorong

  25. David Saweri, KIPAS, Sarmi

  26. Nico Soppe, Kampung Samarkena, Sarmi

  27. Kokay Mujijau, FIM, Jayapura

  28. Rudolof K, FIM, Jayapura

  29. Harun J.R, Papuan Voices, Jayapura

  30. Jackson Yumame, LEKAT, Jayapura

  31. Jhon Keikye, GIDI, Jayapura

  32. Ferdinan Okoseray, Yapemasda Papua, Jayapura

  33. Julian Howay, GARDA Papua, Jayapura

  34. Noach Wamebu, PTPPMA, Sentani

  35. Denny Yomaki, YALI Papua, Jayapura

  36. Manu R, ELSHAM Papua, Jayapura

  37. Fitus Arung, Majalah Lani, Jayapura

  38. Kizito M Herunoto, SKP KAME, Merauke

  39. Magdalena M Kafiar, KPKC GKI Papua, Jayapura

  40. Leo Imbiri, DAP, Jayapura

  41. Abner Mansai, WALHI Papua, Kota Raja

  42. Abner Wasanggai, Solidaritas Perempuan Papua, Jayapura

Source: Pusaka

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