The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is calling for supporters world-wide to demand an end to the intimidation of an indigenous community in East Kalimantan and the destruction of its customary forests by plantation firms.
Two companies are clearing forests and farmland belonging to the Dayak Benuaq of Muara Tae, in Indonesian Borneo, while the community is being intimidated by armed police says the EIA.
Bulldozers are now just metres away from a camp set up by the community to protect what remains of their forests.
Faith Doherty, EIA Forests Campaign Leader, said: “This is fundamentally a human rights abuse that has to stop now. Our friends in Muara Tae are being brutally oppressed, with state backing and in legally questionable circumstances.
“We must send a message to these companies that people across the world know what’s happening and that it will not be tolerated. The Dayak Benuaq can’t be left to face this form of oppression alone.”
EIA is publishing contact details for managers and executives at the companies involved; supporters in Indonesia and beyond are asked to urge them to stop operating and to respect the rights of the Dayak Benuaq.
Clearing in Muara Tae’s adat, or customary, land by the companies PT Munte Waniq Jaya Perkasa and PT Borneo Surya Mining Jaya began in 2011 and 2010, respectively. Neither company has the consent of the community.
After a blockade by the community last October when the dispute threatened to spill over into violence, the companies stopped clearing. But the temporary reprieve ended in July and clearing has begun again in earnest in the past two weeks.
The rights of the Dayak Benuaq of Muara Tae, who have lived in and used the forests sustainably for centuries, have not been recognised by the local regency government. Their resources have been steadily eroded by logging companies and vast mining concessions.
The clearing by PT Munte and PT Borneo now threatens what remains of their forests and traditional livelihoods.
By Sandra DÃaz [CC-BY-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons