Sunday, March 11, 2012

West Papuan Community Ecological Struggles.

On the sidelines of the Papuan People's struggle for self-determination, at a local level Papuan communities continue to resist the logging and mining industries that are destroying their forests. Here are two stories of recent community resistance from areas close to the Papuan capital Jayapura, translated from the Alliance for Democracy in Papua website

Seeing their forest destroyed, Arso Villagers Burn Five Logging Camps.

Annoyed by hearing the sound of chainsaws almost every day, and in addition the reports of villagers who regularly enter the forest telling of finding loggers' camps there, around 20 people from Arso, both young and old, agreed to check the forest for themselves.

This area of forest is commonly called the 'Golden Triangle', and is divided between the territory of three villages, Arso, Workwana and Wambes.

As they had guessed they would, once inside the forest they found two sites used by loggers, which had been connected with a track made from offcuts of wood which the loggers would use, dragging the wood from behind a vehicle.

At the first site there was only one camp. At this camp they confiscated two chainsaws and took statements from three loggers who were at the location. They then forced the loggers to leave.

The group continued to the next location. Possibly because the loggers had received information from their friends at the first site, there was only one person left, and they didn't find any chainsaws.

As their emotions rose some people almost hit out at the logger, but were held back by others. At this second location, four camps were found, complete with televisions, speakers, supplies of food and clothing and so on. Two vehicles used for dragging wood were also found. In their emotional state, the people destroyed and burned the camps and everything they found there, along with the camp at the first location. The two vehicles were also burnt.

According to statements from the loggers, they had been given permission by the customary chief of kampung Workwana, although the Arso villagers felt that they had been cutting trees far inside the Arso territory.

Several people interviewed in kampung Arso on Tuesday 6th March explained that they were still angry “It's so sad to look at that forest, they even cut very small ironwood trees.” said Wenderlinus Tuamis, a youth who had participated that day.

Meanwhile, according to Franky Borotian, they had been allowing the logging to continue because previously a villager from Workwana had asked to use wood to build her house “a sister had asked for permission to build a house, but then it turned out someone used that permission for business purposes”, he said.

The problem has been passed over to the Customary Council (Dewan Adat). Villagers asked the Customary Council to use their wisdom to resolve the situation so that conflicts between the people would not emerge. Especially since the Golden Triangle had become the area which people rely on for food, as other areas have been taken over by two big oil palm plantations, state-owned PTPN II and PT Tandan Sawita Papua (Part of Peter Sondakh's Rajawali Group)


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