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Destruction of customary forests in Papua constitutes ecocide, INFID says

Tempo - June 5, 2024

Novali Panji Nugroho, Jakarta – Executive Director of the International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development or INFID, Iwan Misthohizzaman, stated that clearing customary forests in Papua by abusing state permits is an act of ecocide and a violation of human rights.

"Ecocide must be seen as a systematic, aggressive, massive, and planned form of attack on the environment," said Iwan in a written statement on Wednesday, June 5, 2024. Ecocide, he said, potentially destroys the environment's capacity to support the living.

He said there are at least three elements of ecocide seen from today's climate change. First, exploitation of the environment leads to the extermination of nature. Second, the extermination is related to the erasure of people's right to life. Third, the exploitation of natural resources leads to threats to human life, now and in the future.

In the case of Papua, Iwan said "the three elements of ecocide were met" since forests in Papua are a source of livelihood and civilization for indigenous peoples. The customary forest destruction in Papua also reflects the government's failure and irresponsible business practices which defy sustainable development goals. "So everything becomes overlapping, weak, and corrupted," he said.

The Indigenous communities in Papua will experience immense loss of their living space if the palm oil companies' operational permits are not revoked. Therefore, INFID urges the Supreme Court not to be part of the ecocide actors in the case of Papuan forests. The organization also asked the government to revoke the corporation's permit and return the customary forest to Papua's Indigenous communities.

Meanwhile, INFID Human Rights and Democracy Program Officer Ari Wibowo believed the case of Papuan customary forest exploitation is part of human rights enforcement in Indonesia. He said this case is contrary to the three pillars of the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, namely protection of human rights by the state, respect for human rights by corporations, and reparation for human rights victims.

Awyu Tribe in South Papua and the Moi Tribe in Southwest Papua are currently fighting against corporations that are set to destroy their forests. The operations of PT IAL and PT SAS have the potential to cause deforestation which will release 25 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere and worsen the impact of the climate crisis.

Therefore, INFID urges President Jokowi and all relevant institutions to commit to fulfilling the human rights of the Indigenous Awyu and Moi ethnic communities.

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1876382/destruction-of-customary-forests-in-papua-constitutes-ecocide-infid-say