Bogor, 15 April 2013. The issuance of business permits from East Kutai Regent to palm oil and coal mining companies and recommendation letter for HTI concession have caused deforestation and degradation of customary forests and the source of livelihood of Long Bentuq communities as well.
The facts showed that the eviction of land and forests in the Long Bentuq village happened since 2006 done by palm oil companies PT. Hamparan Perkasa Mandiri (PT. HPM), PT. Kaltim Agro Mandiri (PT. KAM), PT. SuburAbadiWanaAgung (PT. SAWA) and PT. Gemilang Sejahtera Abadi (PT. GSA). Since their first arrival, local communities didn’t agree about their intention to operate in their land. The refusal from communities ignored by the companies and East Kutai government. The companies-especially the palm oil companies-still went on with the land-clearing and displacing the communities’ land.
Since 2009, Long Bentuq communities along with local NGO Perkumpulan Nurani Perempuan have reported the violation of law done by PT. Hamparan Perkasa Mandiri and PT. Gemilang Sejahtera Abadi to East Kutai Regent. The report is based on the incidents such as eviction of customary land, cemetery and cacao plantation. Communities have asked the East Kutai government to stop the destruction of natural resources in Long Bentuq customary land. In 2011, communities once again have reporting HTI company PT. Permata Borneo Abadi and expressed that they refuse the company in their land. Action from communities continued by reporting the eviction of their customary land done by PT Gemilang Sejahtera Abadi and PT Kaltim Agro Mandiri in 2012. Despite communities’ actions and efforts to save their customary forests in the past 5 years, the East Kutai Regent never gives positive feedback or showed any intention to solve the problems.
IcnasiusHanyang, activist from PerkumpulanNuraniPerempuan said, “It’s been dozens of times that the Long Bentuq communities expressed their refusal to the permits issued by East Kutai Regent but to date they never get any solution of the problems from local government.” The Long Bentuq communities have to face psychological pressure because they are considered unsupportive to East Kutai development program. “Local government is busy to attract new investors. It is without any doubt will escalate the destruction of indigenous peoples’ source of livelihood,” continued Hanyang.
The overlapping permits between companies just worsening the conflicts. Unfinished with one problem with palm oil company, the communities have to deal with HTI and coal mining companies. Based on the investigation and analysis from Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), there’s an indication of violation in terms of license issuance of several companies by the East Kutai government. “Muhamad Kosar, campaigner FWI said,”We suspect there are illegal permit issuance in Long Bentuq area. We found overlapping permits between coal mining with HTI companies in some sectors, they actively operate in same location.”
The Long Bentuq communities have to survive and save the forests including its biodiversity such as hornbill, peacock and orangutan. They do anything to save the forests, including proposing community-based forest management in 2009. From the first proposal (40,000 hectares) only 880 hectares approved by the government. Strangely, the location approved is outside of the location proposed by the Long Bentuq communities. The communities refuse the decree issued by the Ministry of Forestry.
The dispute about Long Bentuq communities’ land is an example of many tenure conflicts that failed to be solved by the government. The practices of palm oil companies not only causing conflicts between communities and companies but also trigger horizontal conflict among communities. From a research conducted by Nurani Perempuan and FWI, there’s a conflict between Dayak Modang and Dayak Kenyah tribe in Busang sub-district, East Kutai Regency. The conflict was triggered by the coming of palm oil company in the area.
This condition showed how weak natural resources management in Indonesia, which implicates on the bad permits system and often failed to recognize indigenous peoples’ rights. “The national and local government have to do real actions to fix permits and licensing system with audit overlapping permits and revoke licenses of the companies that have conflicts with comunnities,” said Muhamad Kosar.
- Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI) is a network of independent forest monitoring, consists of organizations and individuals with commitment towards fair and sustainable forests and natural resources management. This organization based in Bogor. More information about FWI can be accessed through website www.fwi.or.id.
- Perkumpulan Nurani Perempuan is an organization thatfights to actualize equitable social order with holding on to values such as social justice, gender equality, human rights and local wisdom.
- In 2009,Long Bentuq village proposed 40,000 hectares of community-based forests scheme. After the document of this proposal lost twice in Regent’s office, in 2011 the Regent finally gave his recommendation letter for 11.648,90 hectare area. InNovember 2012,a decree issued by Ministry of Forestry mention only 880 hectare area but the location is outside from the proposed area. It is located in Long Pok village. The communities firmly refuse that decree. The permits issued by East Kutai Regent are overlapping, between coal mining company PT KNC (part of Nusantara Energy Group)with Churcill and Ridlatama Group. Because of that, British company Churcill Mining Plc sued the Government of Indonesia with amount of US$2 billion in the international arbitration court for mining permit revocation by East Kutai Regent, Ir. H. Isran Noor, M.Si. Churcill Mining have East Kutai Coal Project with 75% stock share and the rest owned by PT Ridlatama Group.
- In April 12, 2013FWIreleased an investigation report in the Long Bentuq village titled SAVE THE LAST CUSTOMARY FORESTS which can be downloaded at: Pertahankan Hutan Adat Yang Tersisa (pdf – 3,1 Mb)
- This Press Release could be downloaded at: Press Release (pdf – 200 kb)