Indonesia: West Papua communities protest against ANJ Group & subsidiary, allege land grabs, lack of consultation - company responds

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Item
7 September 2015

ANJ Group response to awasMIFEE rejoinder

Author: Austindo Nusantara Jaya (ANJ) Group

While we had been aware of the AwasMIFEE article since its publication, we had chosen not to respond to it because we felt that whatever we said would not be received with an open mind. AwasMIFEE has not vouched facts related to its publication and has never tried to contact us to validate the related facts.

When BHRRC carried their article and asked us for a rejoinder, however, we agreed to your request. This was because we did our due diligence on your organization and are convinced that you believe in wanting to arrive at the truth, in fair play and an in an open-minded approach to the usually emotive issue of sustainability.

We therefore provided our response to BHRRC, which included substantiation of the facts. We think you will agree that a careful reading of AwasMIFEE’s rejoinder will show that they have not refuted a single claim of ours with factual evidence, but rather with trying to pass off intent as fact, with straw man arguments and with transitive logic.

While mindful of the need for openness and transparency, we feel that we have adequately addressed the allegations against us and do not wish to engage in further unconstructive polemics. We would expect to be held responsible by BHRCC to substantiate any accusation or allegation, should we make it against others. We hope BHRRC will hold AwasMIFEE to this standard as well and put a stop in distributing one-sided allegations.

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NGO rejoinder
7 September 2015

awasMIFEE rejoinder

Author: awasMIFEE

...[T]he important issue here is that a land dispute exists, and that land dispute has resulted in two people in prison after being arrested on a demonstration. That such a dispute should emerge so soon after forest clearance begins shows that there was a problem with the Free Prior Informed Consent. Either it was not conducted properly, or it has failed.

[....]

In their response, ANJ haven't given a detailed description of what action the PT PPM took as part of the FPIC process, and their only information related to FPIC given in documentation supplied to the RSPO as part of the New Planting Procedure were the dates of 'land acquisition' between April and July 2013 (just a few months after ANJ bought the PT PPM and it became an RSPO member) and  signatures of indigenous leaders. If the company believes it has engaged in a proper FPIC process, it really should provide further documentation of how it interprets FPIC and further details about the process it engaged in for the PT PPM concession, it would greatly help to understand the context of this case. 

[...]

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Company response
1 September 2015

Austindo Nusantara Jaya (ANJ) Group response

Author: Austindo Nusantara Jaya (ANJ) Group

[....] Soren was quoted as saying that their protest was a result of “the people demanding that PT PPM offer a solution to the problems of land grabbing, the destruction of forests and sago groves, illegal logging and an unfair level of compensation and indications of illegal exploration of oil and gas.”

These allegations are factually incorrect, beginning with “the people” doing the demanding. The protestors, to our knowledge, are residents of Sorong, about 340 km from where we have our plantation and where the Iwaro tribe live. On May 18, Boas Wilemanas, the former Chief of the Iwaro Tribe in the city was quoted by a Papuan newspaper, Radar Sorong, as saying that in tribal law Soren did not have the right to make any claims on behalf of the Iwaro tribe because he has no blood ties with the tribe. (Please see a clipping of the newspaper article attached)

Soren accused PT PPM of land grabbing and an unfair level of compensation. This is unfounded as PT PPM adhered strictly to the Free Prior Informed Consent protocol as required by the RSPO to ensure that local communities are not taken advantaged of by prospective purchasers of their land. 

He also alleged that we had destroyed forests. This is again incorrect as any land clearance activities had to conform to the RSPO’s New Planting Procedures that includes us conducting a legally required Environmental Impact Assessment and a High Conservation Value assessment. These documents were posted for public scrutiny on the RSPO website before we are certified to proceed with land clearance.

On the allegation of illegal logging, we have logging permits from the Government. We have paid all related fees and followed all procedures required by Government. On the allegation of illegal explorations of oil and gas, we are a palm oil plantation, not an oil and gas company, and therefore harbor no intentions to drill for oil. We suggest that you ask the writer of the Awas Mifee article for substantiation to this allegation.

Among the editorialized allegations are that “the company refused to meet with the demonstrators”. This is also factually incorrect.

PT PPM representatives met with the protestors before and after the demonstrations several times with goodwill and an intent to listen and to understand whatever grievances they may have. (Please find below the chronology with attached photos and related documents to help you verify that these meetings took place.)

This gesture was not reciprocated and on 15 May 2015, the protestors became destructive, pulling down the fence to the PT PPM office, scouring the walls of the office and spraying a cement mix on the door of the office. From what we observed, that was when the Police restored order and broke up the demonstration. To help you understand the situation, please find a videoclip of the demonstration. [...]

Timeline of events

Photo documentation and newspaper clip

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Article
31 August 2015

West Papua communities protest against ANJ Group's subsidiary PPM, allege land grabs, lack of consultation

Author: Awas Mifee (Indonesia)

"Trial starts for two people arrested on demonstration at PT Permata Putera Mandiri’s offfice", 24 July 2015

On 15th May..., dozens of students and others from the Iwaro ethnic group from Metamani and Inanwatan in South Sorong Regency, staged a protest action...blocking the offices of oil palm company PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM)...[in] Sorong City, West Papua Province. 

According to...one of the participants on the action, “the people were demanding that PT PPM offer a solution to the problems of land grabbing, the destruction of the forest and sago groves, illegal logging and an unfair level of compensation, and indications that illegal exploration for oil and gas were also taking place”. 

The company refused to meet with the demonstrators, and then police...broke up the action and arrested dozens of participants. After questioning, several detainees were released little by little, until eventually only two people were being held...On 14th July...Obed Korie and Odie Aitago attended the first session of their court process...

Justice appears to be very distant for the victims of PT PPM: the company has not met their demands, and now on the contrary the victims of development are criminalised by the government. PT PPM is a subsidiary company of PT Austindo Nusantara Jaya (ANJ) Group...The company obtained the land for their plantations through mechanisms based on Indonesian state law, ignoring local customary law mechanisms.

This...contravenes the provisions of the 2001 law concerning special autonomy for Papua, which state that if any party requires access to customary land, a meeting of indigenous people must take place to reach a consensus decision before any permits to operate or land title may be granted....The process of land acquisition takes place furtively and without transparency, with police and military involvement, and without the community having the opportunity to understand or find out what the wider impacts of forest clearance might be. [refers to PT ANJ Agri Papua, PT Pusaka Agro Sejahtera, Xinfeng, Xinyou Plantation, Wodi Kaifa]

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