Papua Church tackles palm oil problems

Papua Church tackles palm oil problems

Union of Catholoc Asian News

Karawang, March 8, 2010


Five dioceses in Papua are campaigning against the effects of palm oil plantations on the environment in Timika, in the easternmost province.
Activists will present their case at a public meeting on June 6 and at a national rally in December to mark Human Rights Day.
Crosier Father Serafin Dany Sanusi, executive secretary of the bishops’ Commission for Justice and Peace, will also help organize meetings at the House of Representatives and with the central government.
The goal is “to let people know that palm oil plantations have created serious problems and to ask the government to return the forests,” Father Sanusi said.
 People in hinterland areas, including in
Papua, use bamboo rafts to cross a river.
The Church there is tackling environmental problems.


“I am not anti-oil palm,” he said. However, such plantations “have destroyed the forests. Papuans are gatherers whose livelihoods depend on the forests, not palm oil.”

The commission and several Church organizations organized an advocacy training program in late February.

Twenty-four participants from the five dioceses later agreed to follow up the training program with focus group discussions.

Such discussions “aim to collect data on environmental destruction in their dioceses,” the priest told UCA News.

That will be used to make the case in further protests.

The Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation (JPIC), Missionaries of the Sacred Heart of Indonesia and the secretariats for justice and peace of Merauke archdiocese and Timika, Jayapura, Agats-Asmat, and Sorong-Manokwari dioceses all helped with the advocacy training.

Father Sanusi said training program was necessary and designed to “recover Papuans’ living rights and dignity.”

The diocesan representatives have issued recommendations suggesting how to recover Papuans’ living rights and guidelines on reversing policies on the plantations.

The recommendations said issues regarding the environment, politics, education, health and dialogue between Papua and Jakarta remain problematic. They said that the central government must make dialogue a priority.