Wednesday, July 26, 2017

1) Mote: All ACP-EU representatives agreed to urge the UN to raise human rights abuses in Papua


2) EXPERT: THE TREASON ARTICLE HAS LIMIT CULTURAL EXPRESSION IN PAPUA
3) 25 PAPUA DOCUMENTARIES READY TO COMPETE IN PAPUA FILM FESTIVAL
4) A TNI MEMBER INDICTED BY 156A KUHP FOR BURNING SCRIPTURE
5) DEIYAI ​​PARLIAMENT’S MEMBERS HARDLY SEEN IN OFFICE
—————————————-


A google translate. Be-aware google translate can be a bit erratic/
Original bahasa link at


1) Mote: All ACP-EU representatives agreed to urge the UN to raise human rights abuses in Papua
Tuesday, July 25, 2017 - 16:33

Papua No. 1 News Portal I Jubi,

Jayapura, Jubi - All delegates to the 14th Regional Meeting of the ACP-EU Parliamentary Joint Assembly who was present at Port Vila, Vanuatu on 19-21 July, agreed with Vanuatu's proposal to urge the United Nations to speak about human rights abuses in Papua.

This was said by Octovianus Mote, Secretary General of the United Liberation Movement for West Papua (ULMWP) to the editor Monday (24/7/2017), when confirmed in response to parliamentary representatives at the ACP-EU Regional Meeting on Vanuatu's call to support the rights Self-determination and human rights violations in West Papua.

"Even Papua New Guinea, which politically recognizes Papua as an integral part of Indonesia, also said that human rights violations in Papua can not be allowed to continue, because it has been going on for so long," said Mote.

Mote also explained that all ACP representatives agreeing that human rights abuses in Papua could lead to the destruction of ethnic Papuans if kept abandoned.

"They agree human rights abuses that have been going on for decades since the annexation of Indonesia if left will lead to the destruction of ethnic Papuan or Genocide," he said.

Octovianus Mote was present at the 14th Meeting of the ACP-EU Parliamentary Joint Assembly representing ULMWP at the official invitation of the Vanuatu government. "I was formally invited by Vanuatu who acted as the host."

Although he does not have the right to speak, he was given the opportunity to reveal facts and basic information about human rights violations in Papua.

"In general, the Pacific countries in attendance already know what is happening in Papua so far, so they do not comment on anything other than agree to urge the UN to start talking about Papua," Mote said.

Previously, as reported by Jubi (23/7), at the regional meeting the Vanuatu government also requested that the ACP-EU support the submission of the West Papua resolution at the next ACP-EU parliamentary meeting next October in order for the resolution to be adopted at the meeting of the Council of Ministers of ACP In November 2017. (*)

————————————————-

2) EXPERT: THE TREASON ARTICLE HAS LIMIT CULTURAL EXPRESSION IN PAPUA

Jayapura, Jubi – The Constitutional Court (MK) held a judicial review session of the Criminal Code related to the phrase “makar” (treason) for two applications, namely Number 7 / PUU-XV / 2017 and Number 28 / PUU-XIV / 2017, Monday (July 24). The agenda of the trial of both cases is to hear the expert statement from the Petitioner and the House of Representatives.
I Ngurah Suryawan, a scholar in cultural anthropology as the expert presented by the Petitioner called the Government failed to catch what has really happened in Papua. It is related to the cultural expression that society runs there.
“When they conducted cultural attractions, the treason article is even imposed,” he explained in a session led by Chairman of the Court, Arief Hidayat.

The anthropologist of Papua State University (Unipa) exemplifies some misperceptions in understanding of Papuan culture. For example, when the a man from Dani tribe painting his body with a variety of colors is considered weird, but that is limited to cultural expression. It sometimes invites the apparatus to conduct forced dissolution.
The government, he said, should try to learn more about Papuan culture to avoid misunderstanding. In addition, also to create a synergistic relationship with the people of Papua. For him the approach should be conducted not only politically. Therefore, the urgency to solve the problems in Papua is through culture.
“So do not be penalized. This can kill and curb the cultural expression of Papuan society, ” he asserted.
Himself exemplifies a unique aspect of Papuan culture. For example, the tradition of mop that form a kind of standup comedy today. Its content is to critique the problems of life in a satire and humorous way.
Meanwhile, the Petitioner’s witness Yudi Pratama told his experience when he was a member of Fajar Nusantara Movement (Gafatar). According to him, his social life becomes chaotic since then because of stigma he got from the people. “We have material, psychological, and freedom losses,” he explained.
Yudi told their group was forcibly expelled from Borneo as known as a member of Gafatar. In addition, his friend also got unpleasant events when he has to make a statement letter of ‘decent behaviour’ from the police. “My friend was written involved in a criminal act. In fact, the verdict related Gafatar court at that time has not been decided,” he said.
Meanwhile, other expert Petitioner Made Darma Weda put forward questioned related to the definition of treason which does not yet exist in the Criminal Code. Ideally the plot should be defined in the form of clearer behavior.
This is to distinguish the crime of treason with other criminal acts. “All this time, the reference is to article 87 of the Criminal Code. But there is no definition what treason is,” explained the Graduate Lecturer of Law Program University of Krisnadwipayana.
The House of Representatives Commission III member of Golkar faction Adies Kadir called the effort to overthrow the Government not always manifested in the act of arming or acts of violence. The overthrow may also be carried out by incitement.
“This means that the provision is a preventive measure to protect the country. Treason in the context is widely interpreted,” he said.
Petitioner of the case Number 28 / PUU-XV / 2017 is Hans Wilson Wader, Meki Elosak, Jemi Yermias Kapanai, and Father John Jonga, and Yayasan Satu Keadilan and the Kingmi Church in Papua. They examined Article 104, as well as Articles 106 through Article 110 of the Criminal Code.
According to him, the regulation governing the mockery is used by the Government to criminalize the Petitioners and has impaired the constitutional rights of the Petitioners as citizens.
The case Number 7 / PUU-XV / 2017 was filed by the NGO Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR). They examined Article 87, Article 104, Article 106, Article 107, Article 139a, Article 139b, and Article 140 of the Criminal Code. They see no clear definition of the word ‘Aanslag’ which is defined as makar/treason.
Though ‘makar’ comes from the Arabic word, while ‘aanslag’ more precisely interpreted as an attack. This according to them has obscures the basic meaning of the word aanslag. (*)

——————————————————


3) 25 PAPUA DOCUMENTARIES READY TO COMPETE IN PAPUA FILM FESTIVAL


Jayapura, Jubi – The first Papua Film Festival (FFP) held by Papuan Voices, a Papua filmmaker community, captured 25 documentaries from Papua ready to compete in the competition.
“There are 27 documentary came from various regions in Papua such as Jayapura City, Jayapura Regency, Merauke, Keerom, Biak, Wamena, Sorong, Raja Ampat, Nabire and Mimika, but only 25 qualified to enter the judging stage,” Said Max Binur, Coordinator of Papuan Voices in Monday (July 24).
According to the organizing committee, the stories presented are quite diverse from themes of health, education, economy, politics and security, women, culture, nature, even history.

Here are the titles of films that pass the competition selection based by city.
From Jayapura City represented by Salon Papua; SaPu Cerita (My Story); Untuk Novalinda dan Andrias (For Novalinda and Andrias); Tete Manam (Granpa Manam); and Anak Papua Belajar (Papuan Children Learning).
From Jayapura Regency represented by two films, Danauku Hidupku, Budayaku Hidupku (My lake, my life, my culture my life) and Sang Pendamping (The Companion).
Raja Ampat Regency is represented by Hidup di Hutan Mobak (Life in Mobak Forest) and SASI Konservasi Raja Ampat (SASI, Raja Ampat Conservation).
From the Regency of Mimika represented by two films: Kerasnya Hidup di Surga Kecil (Hard Life in Small Heaven) and Mama Amamapare.
Nabire is represented by one film, Pencurian Sumber Daya Alam dan pelanggaran HAM Papua (Theft of Natural Resources and Human Rights Violations in Papua (Focus of Palm Oil)). Also one film from Keerom Regency Truk Monce (Monce Truck).
Merauke represented by Sota-Etalase NKRI Ujung Timur (Sota, Indonesian showcase in eastern side) ; Selamatkan Wati (Save Wati) and Biarkan Siri Pinang tetan di tanah (Keep Siri-Pinang on the Ground).
From Sorong represented bt Kokoda; Biak through Numfor Island movie and Perjuangan Tanpa Batas (Unlimited Struggle); and Korowai represented by Sekolah Tepi Sungai (School of the Rivers).
Wamena is represented by Maximum Impact; Aku adalah Bapa dan Mama (I am the Father and Mother); Melawan Stigma (Against Stigm)a; Sa butuh kop u cinta (I need your love); and Nagosa (Mother).
The announcement of the ten best films will be conducted on July 30, 2017 after passing the selection by 4 judges: Alia Damaihati, Maria Kaize, Wens Fatubun and Yerri Borang.
The announcement of three best films will be made at the opening of FFP August 7. The winners will be announced at the closing of FFP on 9 August.
The festival will be held at Vertente Sai, Merauke archdiocese complex, Jalan Raya Mandala Kota Merauke 7-9 August 2017.
“The three-day festival will show not only the films in competition but also documentaries of Papuan Voices 1 and 2 produced in 2011-2013, as well as inspirational films from PNG, the Netherlands, UK, Jakarta, Bali, Yogyakarta, Makasar and East Nusa Tenggara. So do not miss for those of you in or around Merauke, ” said Elisabet Asrida, coordinator of FFP event program.
The Papua Film Festival aims to introduce Papua through documentary films to the wider community both in Papua, National and International, in the hope of emerging new perspectives that place Papua as a subject in viewing and determining its own future, as well as contributing to ending injustice in the land of Papua.
The theme taken in the 2017 Papua Film Festival is Bomi Zai Anim-Ha: Common Home of True-Human who nurtures the identity and collective memory of Indigenous Papuans. (*)

—————————————————


4) A TNI MEMBER INDICTED BY 156A KUHP FOR BURNING SCRIPTURE

Jayapura, Jubi – The case of accidental burning of scriptures by one member of TNI when he went to clean and burn garbage in a ‘corvee’ of Korem 172 / PWY, Padang Bulan Abepura, Jayapura City, May 25, began its trial in Military Court III-19 Jayapura, Monday (July 24).
In a hearing led by Chief Justice Colonel F Vanderslot accompanied by Judge Lieutenant Colonel Dwi Yudo Utomo and Major Dendi Sutiyoso, a TNI soldier who became the defendant was charged with Article 156a of the Criminal Code with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
The trial presented 19 witnesses. A total of 18 witnesses were present and one was absent.

Witness ASA when giving testimony before the panel of judges said, his partner was first saw the incident, then he called the witness and SAS was heading to the location.
He claimed to see a holy book that burned along with garbage at that time. He then conveyed it to religious leaders and religious leaders then came to the scene.
While the defendant’s legal counsel, Major Andreas Ledo said the defendant did not know that there was a holy book in the box, on July 25 the hearing continued with the agenda of witness hearing testimony.
Article 156a of the Criminal Code states that anyone who intentionally publicly exposes feelings or acts that are essentially hostile, abusive or defamatory to a religion in Indonesia with the intention to obstruct people for not embrace the religion, is sentenced to a maximum of five years. (*)
—————————————

5) DEIYAI ​​PARLIAMENT’S MEMBERS HARDLY SEEN IN OFFICE
 Jul 26, 2017


Deiyai, Jubi – It is already a week before the office of the Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) of Deiyai ​​Regency is blockaded by the students from the region.
They blocked the office of DPRD during a peaceful protest held by local people on Monday (17/07/2017), to protest the elected parliamentary members should show their side with and defend the people.
The protest action coordinator, Melkias Pakage said the blockade was conducted because the MPs are hardly seen in their office since they were inaugurated in 2014.

“Deiyai Parliament ​​was never in office.  We have not seen their face since they were sworn in. When the plenary session or the hearing of regional budget allocation meeting many of them was also not attended,” said Melkias Pakage to Jubi in Waghete, Monday (July 24).
Pakage said when they conducted a long march from Tomas Adii Waghete field to complain about irregular waste disposal in the city, there was not a single representative in the council office located in Tigidoo.
Disappointed with the situation, Pakage explained they then put on installing billboards and a number of pamphlets containing criticism in the office. In fact, a number of plastics as an illustration of rubbish were also poured out in front of the main door.
In a pamphlet it is written “DPRD of Deiyai ​​Regency must attend the office to oversee and serve the people of Deiyai, because they are the representative of the Deiyai people.”
In another pamphlet it said, “Deiyai people have agreed to no longer vote in 2019 election, because you are not capable of monitoring project development and unable to serve the community.”
Domin Badii, one of the students said it agreed to wait until all 25 members of DPRD arrived and would open the bars together.
“We want all members of Deiyai Parliament ​​present and open the crossbar together. The capital of Deiyai ​​district is not in Nabire, not in Jayapura and not in Jakarta. But, in Waghete,” he said. (*)
————————————-

Monday, July 24, 2017

Boat capsizes in Papua, 13 missing

http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2017/07/24/boat-capsizes-in-papua-13-missing.html

Boat capsizes in Papua, 13 missing
Nethy Darma Somba The Jakarta Post Jayapura | Mon, July 24, 2017 | 06:15 pm
A traditional village in Papua. (Shutterstock/File)

The Jayapura Search and Rescue (SAR) team in Papua are still searching for the 13 people who went missing on the Mamberamo River in the Bintang Mountains in Batani district on Friday.
"Our men are still on the ground, combing along the river but so far none of them has been found," SAR Jayapura head Melkianus Kutta told The Jakarta Post in Jayapura.
The 13 were passengers on a boat carrying a total of 28 people that capsized after it hit logs in the river.
Batani district head Anike Alwolka said the boat was then stuck in the middle of the river until a large wave smashed into it.
"These days the river's stream can quickly escalate because of rain," he told the Post.
Only 15 of the passengers have been found. They were transferred to Jayapura using a Pilatus Porter plane chartered from AMA.
The passengers were residents of Mamblu village in Yahukimo regency who were traveling to Batani to attend a religious ceremony.
"The injured victims are still being treated at the Yowari Hospital,'' Anike said. (bbs)
-------------------------------

Rockin for West Papua


AHRC U/A INDONESIA: Teenage indigenous Papuan brutally assaulted

INDONESIA: Teenage indigenous Papuan brutally assaulted

  
July 24, 2017
ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION - URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-093-2017send-button.gif
24 July 2017
---------------------------------------------------------------------
INDONESIA: Teenage indigenous Papuan brutally assaulted
ISSUES: Fair trial, impunity, torture, remedy, due process of law, rule of law
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Friends,
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from its local partner in Papua about the torture of Albert Nawipa (15), a junior high school student. Nawipa was illegally taken by the police and brought to a police station near Potikelek market in Wamena. The police accused him of attacking a dancing show in Potikelek market. He was tortured by three police officers and subsequently hospitalized. His serious injuries have prevented him from enrolling in the Senior High School in Wamena regent. The police have yet to comprehensively examine the case, and no adequate remedies have been provided to Nawipa....................... 
http://www.humanrights.asia/news/urgent-appeals/AHRC-UAC-093-2017


---------------------------------------------


1) Jokowi recommits govt to development in Papua


2) Another cargo plane skids off runway in Papua
————————————————————-

1) Jokowi recommits govt to development in Papua
37 minutes ago 
Isolated parts of Indonesia's Papua region are to be targetted by accelerated government efforts to improve infrastructure.
Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, has used a high-level meeting to recommit his administration to the development of airports, ports, roads and bridges in remote Papua.
The internal meeting was attended by members of cabinet such as co-ordinating minister for politics, Wiranto, as well as the governor of Papua province, Lukas Enembe.
According to President Jokowi, Papua has the largest area of any Indonesian province, as well as abundant mining, agriculture, forestry and marine resources.
He said this great potential should be properly utilised as much as possible for the prosperity of Papua's people.
The president said that urgent infrastructure development was the way to do this, especially in isolated areas, including the region of Papua around the border with Papua New Guinea.
—————————————————————
2) Another cargo plane skids off runway in Papua
Nethy Darma Somba The Jakarta Post
Jayapura | Sun, July 23, 2017 | 11:25 pm

A small cargo plane skid off the runway at Sinak Airport in Puncak regency, Papua, on Saturday. The pilot Tommy Hendratno and copilot Ihsan Ryzky were reportedly uninjured.
The incident occurred only four days after another cargo jet skidded off the runway at Wamena Airport, also in Papua.
The Enggang Air Grand Caravan single-propeller plane had departed from Nabire with about 1 ton of diesel fuel on board. Around 12:30 p.m. local time the plane landed at Sinak but the crew failed to bring the plane to a halt before the runway's end.
The weather around the airport was reportedly foggy during the time of the incident, as it has been raining every day for the last two weeks.
Sinak Airport head Dani Djoko told The Jakarta Post the crashed airplane had been removed to the apron and the airport was operating normally on Sunday. “National Transportation Safety Committee and Transportation Ministry personnel will arrive at Timika tomorrow to start the investigation,” he said.
Last Tuesday, a Boeing B737-300F operated by PT Tri-MG Intra Asia airline skidded about 100 meters off the Wamena Airport runway before coming to halt in a small ditch. Carrying around 15 tons of building materials and food supplies, the plane had departed from Mozes Kilangin Airport in nearby Mimika regency.
All four crew and a passenger were evacuated from the aircraft and there were no reports of injuries.
Sinak Airport’s skid-off was the fifth aviation incident across Papua in 2017. (kuk/bbs)
-------------------------------

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Port Vila ACP-EU heard that more 1 000 West Papuans killed

Port Vila ACP-EU heard that more 1 000 West Papuans killed
Published: 21 July 2017





West Papuans were never allowed the proper act of self-­determination guaranteed by the inalienable right to self-­determination as expressed in UN human rights Covenants and by the 1962 New York Agreement, a treaty between the Netherlands and Indonesia handing provisional administration of the territory from one country to the other.
 Indonesia arrived in West Papua in 1963 and immediately began violently suppressing all West Papuan aspirations for independence. West Papuans have suffered horrendously under Indonesian rule, including thirty years under the Suharto dictatorship and now nearly twenty under a more democratic, but ultimately colonial, regime. More than a hundred thousand (and perhaps hundreds of thousands) have died because of Indonesia’s annexation. Human rights violations, amounting to ‘crimes against humanity’, continue with impunity.
 
 Indonesian state authorities, Indonesian settlers and Indonesian (as well as foreign) companies have steadily but surely assumed control over every aspect and arena of West Papuan life. Indonesian claims to have developed West Papua’ ignore the fact that development has primarily benefited Indonesians not Papuans.  Ethnically, culturally and politically, West Papua is part of the Melanesian Pacific, not Southeast Asia. Papuans are black-­skinned Melanesians like the people in neighbouring Papua New Guinea, the Solomons Islands, and Vanuatu.  Indonesia and especially its security forces treat West Papuans as sub-­human because of this racial difference. For decades, the Indonesian government has sent tens of millions of Indonesians from more densely populated regions to its outer, more sparsely populated islands, including West Papua..A parallel voluntary migration continues to this day. In the early 1960s, indigenous Papuans constituted 97% of the population. Today, Papuans are almost a minority in the territory and are already outnumbered in the towns and cities, along the coasts and in the major areas of plantation agriculture. Their culture, the very names of their places, their words and rhythms, the skills, traditions and knowledge that have served for millennia, are being discounted, wiped out, leaving them bewildered and unprepared in an alien world.

 Amnesty International has estimated that more than one hundred thousand (or about 10 percent of the population) have been killed by Indonesian security forces. Other estimates of the deaths, are in the several hundred thousands, one quarter or more of the indigenous Papuans.
 On-­going violations of the human rights of indigenous West Papuans, including torture, extra-­judicial execution, forced disappearances and the beating and shooting of peaceful protestors, amounting in some instances to crimes against humanity,’ with estimates ranging up to a half-­million killings during Indonesias 54 year occupation of the territory
 A Yale University report is one of several defining Indonesian rule as genocidal.
 The worst period of killing occurred during the 1970s and 1980s, at the height of the Suharto military dictatorship, when West Papua was officially a “military operations area.” Although an even greater percentage of East Timorese likely died after Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975, the exterminationist violence employed is the same and Indonesian racist attitudes of superiority towards “subhuman” black Papuans is greater still.
 
CALL for ACP-EU Resolution on West Papua
·       ACP-EU Parliamentarians can voice their concern and they can support Papuan rights, including the right to self-­determination by rallying to the call from the 8 Pacific Island Countries for justice and respect for the right to self –determination.
·       They can get regional and global intergovernmental bodies such the African Union, CARICOM and other regional and sub-regional multilateral bodies to pass resolutions and restrict commercial and other relations with Indonesia.
·       As member states of the United Nations ACP –EU countries can insist on an internationally supervised referendum on independence (or at least the re-­listing of West Papua as a non-­self-­governing territory).
·       Support with one voice the proposed resolutions in the upcoming Joint ACP-EU parliament meeting in month of October and also the resolution on West Papua to be adopted at ACP Council of Ministers meeting in November 2017
·       Call on ACP-EU Parliamentarians to urge their respective governments to address the issue of West Papua at the multilateral level and assist Indonesia to resolve this 54 year crisis.
------------------------------

Friday, July 21, 2017

1) Freeport Indonesia mine workers extend strike for fourth month


2) Mongabay Series: Indonesian Forests, Indonesian Palm Oil, Jokowi Commitments
————————————————————————
JULY 22, 2017 / 12:40 AM / 6 HOURS AGO
 1) Freeport Indonesia mine workers extend strike for fourth month
 JAKARTA/TORONTO (Reuters) - An estimated 5,000 workers at the giant Grasberg copper mine operated by Freeport-McMoRan Inc's (FCX.N) Indonesian unit will extend their strike for a fourth month, a union official said on Friday, in an ongoing dispute over layoffs and employment terms. 

The escalating labor issue comes as Freeport, the world's largest publicly traded copper miner, is snarled in a lengthy and costly dispute with Indonesia's government over rights to the Grasberg copper and gold mine. 
Freeport resumed copper concentrate exports from Grasberg, the world's second-largest copper mine, in April after a 15-week outage related to that row, but a permanent solution is yet to be found. 
Copper prices CMCU3 hit a 4-1/2 month peak on Friday, fueled by strong growth in top consumer China, a weak dollar and worries about supply disruptions. 

Freeport is pushing back against revised government rules that require miners to pay new taxes and royalties, divest a 51-percent stake and relinquish arbitration rights. The Arizona-based miner wants an 'investment stability agreement' that replicates the legal and fiscal rights under its existing agreement. 
Freeport Indonesia union industrial relations officer Tri Puspital told Reuters on Friday that the strike was extended because there is still no solution for worker concerns. 

The strike began in May after Freeport laid off some 10 percent of its workforce to cut costs. 
In May, Freeport said that mining and milling rates at Grasberg were affected by the strike, and investors will look for more information when the company reports second-quarter financial results July 25. 
Indonesia said last week it would invite Freeport chief executive Richard Adkerson to Jakarta this month to try to settle a dispute, but a company spokesman would not confirm whether he would attend. 
Freeport shares were down about 1 percent on New York at $12.93 Friday morning. 

Reporting by Wilda Asmarini in Jakarta, Susan Taylor in Toronto and Maytaal Angel in London; Editing by Andrea Ricci

————————————————
2) Mongabay Series: Indonesian Forests, Indonesian Palm Oil, Jokowi Commitments
Mounting outcry over Indonesian palm oil bill as legislators press on
21 July 2017 / Philip Jacobson & Hans Nicholas Jong
Justified as a means of helping small farmers, assailed as a corporate trojan horse.

The bill cements the right of oil palm planters to operate on peat soil, at a time when President Joko Widodo is trying to enforce new peat protections to stop another outbreak of devastating fires and haze. 
The bill has also been criticized for outlining a variety of tax breaks and duty relief schemes for palm oil investors, although those provisions have been dialed back — but not completely eliminated — in the latest draft. 
The bill's main champion in the House of Representatives is the Golkar Party's Firman Soebagyo. He says it will help farmers and protect Indonesian palm oil from foreign intervention. Responding to mounting public criticism, some cabinet members recently asked the House to abandon the bill, but Soebagyo, who is leading the deliberations, says they will continue.

JAKARTA — A new palm oil bill is the latest battleground in the fight over how to regulate Indonesia’s plantation sector in the wake of the 2015 fire and haze crisis, one of the worst environmental disasters in the country’s history.
Legislators pushing the bill say it will help farmers and protect the nation’s palm oil industry from foreign intervention. But critics say it is actually a plum deal for large corporations, as well as a means for vested interests to undermine peatland protection measures President Joko Widodo installed to prevent a repeat of the 2015 fires, which burned an area the size of Vermont, emitted more carbon daily than all of Europe and sickened half a million people.
The Indonesian Palm Oil Association (GAPKI) has expressed its support of the bill. The lobby group’s leaders speak oftenof a conspiracy by Western soybean and rapeseed oil interests to undermine Indonesian palm oil for competitive purposes. The Southeast Asian nation is the world’s largest producer of the commodity, found in everything from chocolate to laundry detergent. 
Firman Soebagyo, a member of House of Representatives Commission IV overseeing agriculture, plantations, fisheries, maritime affairs and food, is leading the deliberation on the bill. He frames it as needed to counter a foreign assault on Indonesian palm oil and ensure that the country’s poorest citizens can prosper. It is the same argument he has used to excoriate sustainability pledges made by the world’s largest refiners and users of palm oil. As a result of public pressure, consumer goods giants like Unilever and processors of the oil such as Wilmar International have promised to purge their supply chains of deforestation, peatland conversion, land grabbing and labor abuses; but while some Indonesian officials support these policies, Soebagyo and others have worked to dismantle them.
“We won’t be lied to by developed countries that propagandize about palm oil harming the environment,” Soebagyo said last year with regard to the bill. “We oppose this negative campaign, because palm oil is our future.”
President Jokowi’s administration responded to a mounting public outcry over the bill last week when State Secretary Pratikno sent a letter to the agriculture minister outlining criticisms of the bill. And then on Monday, at a meeting with the House’s Legislation Board, which is headed by Soebagyo, cabinet members questioned the need for the bill, since it overlaps with existing laws. Soebagyo replied that the ministers had not seen the latest draft of the bill, dated July 13, and that the House would press on.

Perhaps the greatest point of contention is that the bill cements the right of oil palm interests to operate on peat soil. The large-scale drainage of Indonesia’s peat swamp regions by plantation firms is the chief underlying cause of the fires that burn almost every year across the now-dried-out landscapes. These fires are a carbon bomb that makes Indonesia one of the top greenhouse gas emitters. After the 2015 disaster, President Jokowi declared a moratorium on peatland drainage. Industry groups and some government officials have spoken out against this and other measures on the grounds that they hurt investor confidence.

Specifically, green groups point to an article of the bill that says plantations can exist on peat. While the stipulation is vague, critics argue it could be used to undermine attempts to keep plantation firms from expanding further into the nation’s peat zones, at a time when many are pushing for them to be dislodged from peatlands they already control. 
“This is a ‘rubber article’ — its interpretation is so wide, you can easily play around with it,” Greenpeace campaigner Annisa Rahmawati said in an interview. “It could be used to undermine the spirit of Jokowi’s commitment.”
Farmers need to be allowed to plant peat with oil palm, Soebagyo believes. “For peat, the only thing farmers with two or three hectares can really make money off of planting is oil palm,” he said on the sidelines of Monday’s meeting. “If they’re not allowed to do that, how will they live? Are watermelon and pineapple really enough?”
One of the bill’s selling points, according to Soebagyo, is that it obligates companies to form “partnerships” with farmers. In principle this is not new: oil palm firms have long been required to give the local community 20 percent of their land for smallholder cultivation. Companies typically ignore this mandate, with government officials failing to hold them accountable. 
“It’s rubbish,” Rahmawati said of the notion that the bill does anything more for farmers than existing legislation.
“The laws aren’t the problem,” she added. “The problem is the implementation and enforcement of those laws.”

Another point of contention is corporate handouts. Previous drafts of the bill outlined a variety of tax breaks and duty relief schemes for palm oil investors; a coalition of NGOs decried that as “a corporate effort to drain state finances.” While those provisions were dialed back in the latest draft, it still mentions “fiscal incentives” to be provided by the state, suggesting that such measures could be laid out in implementing regulations to be issued by one or more ministries after the bill’s passage.
New draft or not, the bill remains a problem, said Khalisah Khalid, head of campaigns at the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), the country’s largest environmental pressure group and a member of the coalition. “They’re claiming they’re a big industry Indonesia should take pride in, but they’re always asking for privileges while there’s never been an improvement,” she said in an interview. The 2014 Plantation Law “already gives them many privileges.”
Indonesia recently introduced a major subsidy via the Crude Palm Oil Supporting Fund, which, along with an increase in the required rate for blending palm oil with diesel fuel, is meant to prop up domestic demand for the commodity. (The CPO Fund, as it is known, was also justified on the basis of helping small farmers, but last month the Oil Palm Smallholders Union (SPKS) sued its management body, claiming the fund has only been used to benefit large companies.) Of the financial measures offered in the palm oil bill, Gadjah Mada University professor Rimawan Pradiptyo said in February, “Such excessive incentives will trigger the expansion of oil palm plantations, which will affect the sustainability and diversity of our forests.”
Soebagyo replied to concerns about the bill fueling unsustainable land clearing by pointing to an article in the latest draft that obliges the government to draw up a masterplan for the industry. “We don’t have a blueprint and thus there’s no limit on how many hectares [plantations can expand].”
The latest draft says nothing about a floor or ceiling for potential expansion, although such details could be stipulated in implementing regulations. It gives the government five years to create the masterplan.

The backlash against the bill is also about what it does not do. At a time when a huge number of oil palm firms are accused of grabbing indigenous lands, the bill says nothing about the need for companies to obtain free, prior and informed consent of communities before operating in their territory. At a time when reports of forced labor and other abusive practices are cropping up with increasing regularity, the bill says nothing about worker treatment.
In the country’s easternmost region of Tanah Papua, where the industry is quickly expanding into some of Indonesia’s last best forests, civil society groups under the banner of the Papuan Coalition of Palm Oil Victims said lawmakers should be using their time to debate the long-awaited indigenous rights bill instead.
“That’s much more important than this palm oil bill,” said John Gobay, a representative of the Meepago Tribal Council, one of the groups.
 
Banner image: A palm oil mill in Indonesia, where fruit from oil palm trees are processed into crude palm oil to be refined elsewhere into more complex chemicals. Photo by Rhett A. Butler/Mongabay
———————————-.