Jayapura, Jubi – Students and indigenous advocates protested at the Southwest Papua Forestry Office in Jayapura's Kilo 7 on Monday (13/11/2023), pleading to the Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry to revoke the licenses issued to PT Mancaraya Agro Mandiri and PT Hutan Hijau Papua Barat for forest exploitation.
The spokesperson and action coordinator, Yordan Malamuk, articulated the collective sentiment of 27 indigenous sub-tribes and clans whose custodial rights extend over these lands.
Malamuk staunchly urged the head of the environment and forestry office in Southwest Papua to uphold their aspirations and repel the intrusion of these companies into their ancestral domains.
"As custodians of these lands, we emphatically reject and oppose any operational endeavors by PT Mancaraya Agro Mandiri and PT Hutan Hijau Papua Barat within our ancestral territories," said Malamuk.
Malamuk highlighted the staggering scope of land encompassed by PT Mancaraya Agro Mandiri (97,529 hectares) and PT Hutan Hijau Papua Barat (92,158 hectares) within the customary territories of the Moi Tribe, spanning Sorong Regency, Maybrat Regency, and South Sorong Regency in Southwest Papua Province.
The primary concern resonated around the imminent impact on sacred ancestral sites and vital ecological habitats, prompting an ardent defense of the remaining customary lands and forests for the betterment of present and future generations.
Esau Klagilit, the Chairperson of the Papua Indigenous Youth of the Archipelago, echoed the urgency of the situation, appealing to the environmental office to swiftly align with the aspirations voiced by indigenous youth. Klagilit underscored the profound threat posed by these companies to the indigenous community inhabiting the Salkam area and urged the immediate intervention of local government to direct the community's concerns to the central government.
The collective outcry during the demonstration voiced numerous apprehensions, flagging the presence of PT Hutan Hijau West Papua within the community's customary territory as a dire menace to societal harmony. Concerns extended to the predicted loss of forests, biodiversity, and habitats, foundational to the sustenance and cultural fabric of indigenous peoples.
Moreover, there was palpable anxiety about the potential repercussions of these corporations' activities, namely deforestation in indigenous territories leading to global warming and the erosion of environmental integrity, irreparably damaging the cherished and sacred cultural values deeply interwoven with customary forests. (*)