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BP under pressure over LNG investment in Indonesian ‘colony’ of West Papua

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LNG Tangguh di Teluk Bintuni – IST

Jayapura, Jubi – Last year BP announced a massive new investment in a Liquefied Natural Gas facility in the Indonesian province of West Papua, which it claimed would create 10,000 new jobs. But supporters of West Papuan independence say it legitimizes Indonesian occupation.

BP has a checkered past when it comes to oil and gas exploration and now it is being accused of putting its foot in it again with an investment in Indonesia.

In 2016, a US judge approved an estimated US$20 billion settlement by BP Oil over the catastrophic 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill of hundreds of millions of gallons of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico.

And in 2006, BP agreed an out of-court settlement with a group of Colombian farmers who had demanded US$28 million in compensation. They claimed the Ocensa pipeline in Colombia was a health risk and claimed paramilitary groups had threatened them for opposing the pipeline, although it was never alleged the paramilitaries were linked to BP.

Now the British company is embroiled in a new dispute in West Papua, a territory which became part of Indonesia in controversial circumstances in 1969.

Connor Woodman, a researcher with the Politics of Papua Project at the University of Warwick, told Sputnik that Indonesia took over the former Dutch colony after a bogus referendum.

“It was called the Act of Free Choice, although West Papuans call it the Act of No Choice. The Indonesian military handpicked 1,026 West Papuans who were bribed, cajoled and threatened into voting unanimously for what was Dutch New Guinea to join Indonesia,” Mr. Woodman told Sputnik.

In the intervening decades tens of thousands of Indonesian peasants from other parts of the archipelago were encouraged to settle in West Papua and they may now outnumber the indigenous population.

Indonesia has been accused of widespread human rights abuses in the territory, which forms the western half of the island of New Guinea. The eastern half is the independent state of Papua New Guinea, whose people are kinfolk of the West Papuans.

“There is a paucity of information about the situation on the ground. But 100,000 Papuans have died. There is rampant torture. NGOs and the media are banned and it is even illegal to fly the West Papuan flag,” Mr. Woodman told Sputnik.

The territory sits on vast and largely unexploited mineral resources, which explains why Indonesia is so keen not to give it up.

The Grasberg mine, operated by Freeport, is the world’s largest gold mine and the third largest copper mine in the world.

It is into this tumult that BP has stepped.

In 2016, BP announced they had decided to invest in the Tangguh Expansion Project, which will lead to the exploitation of 14.4 trillion cubic feet of LNG.

Most will be sold to the Indonesian electricity company PT PLN but some will also be supplied to the Kansai Electric Power Company from Japan.

“West Papua has become what Naomi Klein calls a ‘sacrifice zone’, a subset of humanity categorized as less than fully human, their poisoning in the name of progress somehow acceptable,” Mr. Woodman said.

“BP has been pretty successful at monopolizing the narrative on Tangguh. They have set up an independent advisory panel. It is questionable how independent it is but there is no doubt their record is better than Freeport.

“They did not want to repeat the PR disaster they had in Colombia so they have been careful about their security arrangements, although they are still collaborating with the Indonesian military,” said Mr. Woodman.

“LNG is less damaging than open cast mining so you won’t find the same level of concern from environmentalists.”

He said many West Papuans have been moved off their land and there are jealousies between those villages who BP have compensated and those they have not.

“But the fundamental problem with it is that it further ties the Indonesian regime into its control of West Papua. Having BP in there does lend legitimacy to Indonesian sovereignty and that is the number one issue for West Papuans,” Mr. Woodman told Sputnik.

The United Liberation Movement for West Papua has been demanding a fresh referendum on self-determination but so far, apart from Vanuatu and a handful of other tiny Pacific nations, no other government has supported the idea.

BP points out that it has committed to ensuring 85 percent of the skilled workforce at Tangguh are Papuan by 2029.

The firm’s Regional President Asia Pacific, Christina Verchere, said last year: “This final investment decision marks the culmination of many years of hard work by BP, our partners and the Indonesian government.”(*)

 

Source : sputniknews.com

Editor    : Zely Ariane

Economy

Ambaidiru, The coffee pioneer in Papua

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Yonas Nusi showing Ambaidiru coffee – Jubi / Hengky Yeimo

Tabloid, Jubi – Saturday, 6 April 2018, legislator Yonas Nusi, who represents Saireri elected area, tells Jubi about the coffee plantations in Ambaidiru, Yapen Islands District.

He said Ambaidiru coffee plantations have existed since the Dutch era in 1959. “Missionaries –known as Zending—from the Netherlands first introduced coffee to the local people. In 1977, the Aimbaidiru community and village cooperatives continued to grow and maintain the plantations, and it lasted until the 2000s,” he said.

Aimbadiru coffee was first introduced to the local community by Zending Bink in 1924. It started widely planted in 1938. So it can be said that Ambaidiru coffee plantation is a pioneer in the development of coffee plantation in Papua.

Ambaidiru is a village located in Kosiwo Sub-district of the Ambai Islands in the south of Yapen Island. With 301.367 m2, it is approximately 4914 inhabitants live in this village. During the Dutch era, Ambaidiru was a centre for the production of robusta coffee, vanilla and vegetables.

“Coffee has a long story in Papua. People should have adequate knowledge to produce a product that can fulfil the market demand,” he said.

Moreover, he said that coffee should get attention as a high value and potential commodity for the Yapen Islands. Therefore the local government must support the local people by providing skills and management training on coffee production. So the Mayor of the Yapen Islands should able to listen to people’s aspiration, because of the source of community income affect the efforts of a community. “I support the provincial government’s efforts, particularly in Yapen Islands, to promote the potential of indigenous people in every sector, principally the economic sector.

However, another important is he asked are there among the Ambaidiru young people studying agricultural and plantation? He hopes they can finish their study and return to their village to manage the coffee plantation professionally.

A youth from Yapen Islands Markus Yoseph Imbiri said there are several problems concerning the cultivation of coffee in Ambaidiru Village, namely the low maintenance. “Ambaidiru coffee suffers the problem of increasing the number of coffee production because the trees have planted since the Dutch era,” said Imbiri.

Imbiri, who is also the Chairman of IT Volunteers, said several steps have done to grow the coffee. “People ask the government to provide more seeds to scale up the plantation,” he said.

Imbiri admitted that the government already established some agencies to support the local people. Some NGOs and cooperative named Coffee Agency are also there to help. “Some institutions are still active, but some are not. But the government support to revitalise the coffee plantations is very important,” he added. (*)

 

Reporter: Hengki Yeimo

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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Papua’s endemic wood tree threatened for cooking fuel

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Illustration – Pixabay.com

Jayapura, Jubi– The population of xanthostemon novoguineensis, the endemic wood tree of Papua that locally known as ‘sowang’, nowadays has been threatened because of logging activities for cooking fuel.

“The endemic wood tree that grows in Jayapura City is continuing to extinct because of people,” said the Coordinator of the Port Numbay Greend Forum (FPPNG), Freedy Wanda to Jubi recently.

Further, he said even though an awareness campaign on the importance of sowang woods protection has done, it is not useful because indigenous people of Port Numbay are still not paying attention.

Although FPPNG has replanted some young trees, Wanda expects the Plantation and Nursery Agency could prepare as many seeds as possible.

Meanwhile, the village chief of Enggros, Orgenes Meraudje said local people are now facing difficulties with the fact that sowang woods are started to run out because people previously use it for home building.

“As now sowang woods are running out, people commonly use concretes for building their houses,” said Meraudje.

In the past, according to him, villagers had a traditional management of using sowang woods wisely; people should do a particular ritual before cutting trees, and the remarkably old trees would cut for housing. He further said houses made from the sowang woods could last for five to ten years because they are resistant to seawater and not easily broken or collapse.

Sowang wood tree mostly grows around the areas of the Mount Cycloop and Pasir Enam in Jayapura City. Unfortunately, it begins to extinct because of the needs of the household for cooking.

Sowang woods are usually for charcoals, and today because of the economic factor, those charcoals are sold to some restaurants in Jayapura City. Its well-known quality of resistance in burning process becomes the main reason why many restaurant managers prefer it for cooking fuel.

A woodcutter, Agus said he cut the sowang trees for producing charcoals. “I cut and burn it; then the charcoals are ready to sell,” he said. However, getting the sowang trees is considerably hard because they begin to extinct. So he must walk through to a very remote mountainous area. “Moving it down is also not easy because we have to go through a very poor pathway,” he said. (*)

 

Reporter: David Sobolim

Editor: Pipit Maizier

 

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Oil Palm Plantation Seizes Indigenous’ Rights to Land and Education

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Illustration of oil palm plantation in Papua – Jubi

Jayapura, Jubi – A Papuan legislator Maria Elizabet Kaize said the oil palm investments, especially in the southern region of Papua, have seized the indigenous peoples’ lands and corrupted the education of young Papuans.

Maria Kaize, a native woman from Anim Ha customary area, said oil palm plantations give a negative impact on the indigenous children’s education in the district of Merauke, Boven Digoel and surrounding areas because the school-age Papuans prefer to follow their parents than going to school.

“It is true that the awareness among the school-aged Papuan children, especially in southern areas, for schooling needs to be improved. Many of them prefer to follow their parents in the forest,” Maria Kaize answered some questions from Jubi on Thursday (19/04/2018).

She took Bio area of Boven Digoel District as an example. In this area, many school-aged children join their parents as palm oil workers. Her sister, who is a local teacher, told her about this information.  She further said that the similar thing also happened Genyem and Lereh, Jayapura District, when the oil palm companies just operated in those areas.

“According to a teacher from Genyem whom I met some time ago, they went to the oil palm plantation for looking the children. Maybe this method can be used in some districts in the southern Papua. However, it needs support from the government, customary and church leaders as well as the community,” she said.

When meeting with Hilal Elver, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, a local leader from Keerom, Servius Servo said the transition of community land to oil palm plantation harmed the local people because it rated very cheap.  In fact, in some cases, they changed it with sugar and salt.

“Besides for oil palm plantations, community and sago forests mostly used for road construction and government infrastructure,” Servius said. (*)

Reporter: Arjuna Pademme

Editor: Pipit Maizier

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