Saturday, December 28, 2013

David Versus Goliath in the Aru Islands

In December 2013, PT Menara Group is meant to start operations in Aru. That’s according to the Menara Group’s work schedule which has become general knowledge amongst government officials in Maluku Province and Aru Regency, especially Maluku’s caretaker governor Saut Situmorang.

How can that have come about? The officials claim that all the permits are issued according to procedure, there are no problems with the environmental impact assessment, and the people of Aru raise no objections. If there are some people who object, it is only a handful of people, who are not the customary landowners. Can this all be true?

The call to Save Aru has become a global movement. School and university students, academics, researchers, NGO activists, nature lovers, journalists, artists, religious teachers, all sorts of groups from across five continents have echoed the cry to Save Aru. Petitions have taken off, songs have been sung, performances staged, poetry inspired. The fire of resistance continues to grow.

The giant consorsium PT Menara Group plans to develop sugar-cane plantations in the Land of Aru, the land called Jargaria. It has ambitions to take control of around 500 thousand hectares for this purpose. Before planting this vast plantation and building a sugar factory, first of all it would clear-fell the forest, full of top-quality timber such as meranti, linggua, ironwood and so on. This would inevitably be an ecological disaster, as birds of paradise and other wildlife endemic to Aru are cleared from their natural habitat. This is the Menara Group’s plan which is meeting vehement challenges from the Save Aru movement around the world.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Open letter from the Suku Anak Dalam in Jambi Province

To all palm oil consumers around the world, stop draining our tears and our blood!!!

“Some thoughts about the evictions of our homes by PT Asiatic Persada in Jambi Province.”

“Hundreds of people appeared suddenly, they were wearing police or police mobile brigade uniforms, along with others wearing the clothes of PT Asiatic Persada employees. We were shocked and scared, as we realised they had come to destroy our houses. We could only stand by and watch as our homes were demolished by the company's heavy machinery, and we also had to just accept it when they took away some of our possessions.” That is how one of the evicted Suku Anak Dalam described what happened, when we visited them on 11th December 2013 at 17.00.

PT Asiatic Persada has taken action once again, just as it did in 2011, when it also managed to smash up around 80 houses in the Sungai Beruang area. This time, PT Asiatic Persada and state security forces carried out an intense wave of evictions between 7th-11th December around Pinang Tinggi, Padang Salak, Tanah Menang and Terawang. Currently around 146 houses have been razed to the ground, and those 146 families have sought refuge in Jambi City.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Conflict Between Takalar Farmers and PTPN XIV Flares up - Farmer Shot by Police

The conflict between residents of Takalar Regency, South Sulawesi and state-owned plantation company PTPN XIV has flared up once again.

 Unavoidable clashes between the people of North Polongbangkeng Sub-district and Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) on Monday morning (2/12/13) resulted in community member Yunus Daeng Empo receiving a bullet in his right thigh.

When contacted by Mongabay, Zulkarnain, Walhi South Sulawesi's executive director, said that the incident was provoked by PTPN IV's plan to cultivate disputed land which is the subject of an ongoing case in the Supreme Court.
On hearing about this plan, dozens of local people went to the location being guarded by 10-20 members of South Sulawesi Police Mobile Brigade. The situation heated up as PTPN XIV failed to heed the community's protests. Yunus Daeng Empo was trying to stop the company working the land when the police shot him. “The situation became chaotic when Brimob started arresting and shooting people,” Zulkarnain said today.