Sentani, Jubi – Ondofolo and khoselo (tribal chiefs) of Nendali Village, East Sentani District wanted to push for the topic of loss of customary rights in Papua to become a strategic issue discussed in the VI Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (KMAN).
This was conveyed by Nendali's ondofolo Yanpiet Ebha Wally and khoselo Rukhu Neai Walinea in Nendali Village on Sunday, September 18, 2022.
"We indigenous people are always disadvantaged. Our customary rights are lost for development purposes. Indigenous people are never respected, and our dignity is trampled on. About 320 hectares of land are used by the government and the private sector without any compensation to indigenous peoples as customary rights owners," Ebha Wally explained.
According to him, the KMAN VI was the right opportunity to convey to the government the land rights of indigenous peoples that had been ignored.
"The transfer of customary rights is tantamount to eliminating the existence of indigenous peoples. Where should we indigenous people stand if our lands were taken?" said Ebha Wally.
On the other hand, one of the khoselos of Enabhu tribe in Nendali, Erick Wally, said that land as part of mother earth had always been the pride of indigenous peoples who had existed long before the state.
"We ask all parties to respect and recognize our existence," said Erick.
Similar sentiments were heard from the Namblong District in the Grime Nawa Valley. Chair of the Namblong Tribal Council Matheus Sawa reported that the acts of land grabbing experienced by the Namblong indigenous people also need attention from all parties, and need to be discussed at the KMAN VI as well.
"There are thousands of hectares of our land that have been claimed by investors for the benefit of oil palm plantations," said Matheus. (*)