Conflict over land between palm oil company and indigenous land owner results in police violence

The NGO Pusaka has reported that the illegal expansion of a oil palm plantation owned by the company PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM) of the ANJ Group has resulted in multiple cases of intimidation and violence against indigenous land owners of Puragi village, Metamani sub-district, South Sorong Regency of Papua Barat Province. The indigenous land owners erected "customary land blockades" after the company had cleared forest areas beyond the boundaries of their concession area since September 2017. The company has not carried out its obligation to hold a meeting with the community to reach an agreement about the status of the land, and compensation for any ways they have been disadvantaged or lost sources of livelihood, including forest products and food sources. The company has ignored customary laws as well as community demands and continues to clear and destroy the forest.

 

 

According to Pusaka, at least three customary landowners who protested against the company's violations have been intimidated by members of the police mobile brigade (Brimob) in early October 2017. Members of the Brimob unit are constantly guarding the PPM operations and facilities. On 23 October 2017, Yan Ever Mengge, also known as Bowake, put in place a customary law blockade after PT Permata Putera Mandiri (PPM) did not keep the promise to compensate his clan for land and timber, which had been cleared by the company the previous day. Thereupon, three Brimob officers chased Bowake with their vehicle. Driving at top speed, the car pursued Bowake, trying to run him down, but he was able to jump to the side of the road to avoid it. The officers opened the left-hand door of the car violently, slamming it into Bowake's body.

Three Brimob officers jumped out of the car and surrounded Bowake, striking him and torturing him until he fell to the ground. They used their rifle butts to strike him to his neck, back, waist and knees. The officers also kicked him with jackboots in his stomach, sides and chest, while one Brimob officer stated, 'We're going to kill you here, today'. The Brimob guards also threatened that they would bury him alive. Bowake sustained sever bruises on the body, the head, his arms and legs. He was unable to walk, so the Brimob officers lifted him into the car and drove him to the company's camp. The Brimob officers continued to kick him at the camp until Bowake collapsed. He was looked after there for several days. A company worker brought Bowake to the hospital in Teminabuan because he continued to suffer a severe pain in his back and backbone, his injuries didn't heal and he repeatedly vomited blood.

Bowake's family demanded the payment of a penalty under customary law for the beatings and tortures carried out by the three police officers, which would come to 150 million Rupiah. The calculation of the penalty was based on 50 million Rupiah for each of the three perpetrators, but the company bargained the sum down to 50 million Rupiah. The company produced an official note that it would pay the costs of treatment and a 50 million Rupiah penalty for the beating. However,  the family did not receive any payment from PT Permata Putera Mandiri, leaving them without money to pay for Bowake's medical treatment.