MIFEE: New Videos and Report published.

>>A New Video “Mama Malind su Hilang” has been released by Gekko Studio based on interviews with the people of Kampung Zanegi near to Merauke. Villagers tell of how they were deceived by Medco, an Indonesian company which has cleared forest for a 169,000 hectare acacia and eucalyptus plantation, and how the loss of their forest has affected their possibilities to provide the most basic necessities of life: harvesting sago and hunting wild animals, and also how infant malnutrition is now on the rise.

>>Papuan Voices has a new website.

Papuan Voices is a video advocacy initiative working with Papuan activists to more effectively tell their stories to the world. In 2011-12 EngageMedia and Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation collaborated with local organisations in Jayapura and Merauke to teach Papuan activists video production and distribution skills.

Papuan Voices aims to bring the everyday stories of West Papuans to a wider audience. Importantly, these stories are not just framed around West Papua’s political struggle for independence; they are not the stories of conflict that are more often circulated. Rather, they are the stories behind the conflict: the struggles for education, the environment, equality and dignity. Several videos document the problems that plantation companies are causing in Merauke and Jayapura, and how local people have tried to refuse the companies’ operations.


>>New Report: Land Grabbing for Food and Biofuel – Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) Case Study

Published by Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP)

The establishment of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) will sieze 2.8 million hectares of land away from indigenous peoples in Merauke Regency, Papua Province. The MIFEE is being developed as the biggest food estate in Asia, with  a total of 60 trillion IDR. The government is willing to lease the land to private companies for up to 90 years.

Much of the land still covers primary forests, savannahs, and swamps. These are areas for hunting and food gathering of the indigenous tribes of Papua, which still number more than 70,000. According to Yohanes Petrus Kamalaka of the Kimaam sub-tribe, “We usually take sago in the forest and fish in the swamp. If all of that is lost, what then can we eat?” They hunt deers, pigs, crocodiles, and kangaroos as well. Aside from being food sources, the forests are also intricately linked to their culture.

But this self-sufficient way of life is fast disappearing. Forty-six companies already have permits to operate within the MIFEE. The Singapore-based Wilmar International, one of the biggest palm oil companies in the world, for instance, is permitted to convert 200,000 hectares of Papuan forest into a sugarcane plantation.

As a result, land conflicts have erupted in almost all areas in the food estate, with tribes fighting over land ownership and protesting unfair land compensation. The hiring of “outsiders” to work in plantations have also increased conflict.

On a positive note, the group Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) said, “The indigenous tribes of Papua are getting more aware of lies and manipulations regarding permits and forest delineations as the legal mechanisms in grabbing their lands.” AGRA added, “This is a good start to raise the level of their struggle for land rights. The next level of their struggle is to stop these land grab projects done in the name of solving food and energy problems.”

Dowload the case study, Land Grabbing for Food and Biofuel conducted by AGRA in close partnership with Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP).

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