Witnesses tell of intimidation against indigenous landowners, refute palm oil company claims in West Papuan environment lawsuit

Pusaka| 27 July 2023

Witnesses tell of intimidation against indigenous landowners, refute palm oil company claims in West Papuan environment lawsuit


Papuan indigenous environmentalists from the Awyu Tribe, Hendrikus ‘Franky’ Woro (right) and Kasimus Awe (left) file an environmental and climate change lawsuit at the Jayapura State Administrative Court (PTUN). Photo: Gusti Tanati / Greenpeace

Witnesses today gave evidence in a Jayapura courtroom during an environmental lawsuit taken by members of the Auyu People against a Malaysian-owned palm oil company’s plan to clear tens of thousands of hectares of their West Papuan forest homeland.

Kasimus Awe of the Auyu People explained to the Jayapura State Administrative Court what he described as intimidation directed towards opponents of the company's plans. Meanwhile, Arief Rossi Ramadhan, a participatory mapping expert from the Bentala Rakyat Heritage Foundation described the process carried out by the Woro clan of the Indigenous Auyu People to set down on paper the boundaries of their traditional land.

Legal representatives for the plaintiff, Hendrikus ‘Franky’ Woro, argued that the Woro clan had not been informed of the company plans and that their land rights had not been recognised in maps drawn up by the palm oil company, PT Indo Asiana Lestari in its process of seeking government permits.

While the company’s lawyers previously asserted that it had placed an advisory notice regarding its plans in the Harian Papua newspaper, representatives for the plaintiffs noted that the offices for the little-known newspaper have long been shuttered and that, in any case, newspapers did not usually reach the Woro clan.

The Woro clan is based in the remote village of Yare, Fofi District, in the richly forested Boven Digoel regency, located in the remote southeasternmost corner of the Indonesian territory known internationally as West Papua.

Outside the courtroom, the Alliance of Students and Youth Concerned about Forests and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Aliansi Mahasiswa dan Pemuda Peduli Hutan dan Hak Masyarakat Adat) supported the plaintiffs. They held a peaceful demonstration, unfurling banners with calls such as ‘Save Indigenous Papuans’ Forest’ and ‘Cabut Semua Izin di Tanah Awyu’ (Revoke All Permits Over Auyu Land).

Media Contacts:
Asep Komarudin, Greenpeace Indonesia, +62-813-1072-8770
Tigor Hutapea, Bentala Rakyat Heritage Foundation, +62 812-8729-6684
Igor O’Neill, Greenpeace Indonesia, [email protected] +61-414-288-424
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