Waiting for the Promise of Heaven

Honorable Mention for Photo Contest on Climate Change Stories
Foto & Teks:
Muhammad Zaenuddin
Monday, 17 January 2022

Forest clearance often triggers disputes between indigenous communities and companies. Land conflicts also accompany every oil palm plantation development, although not always.

Currently, the indigenous Moi people in Segun, Gisim, and Waimon Districts-the most remote districts in Sorong Regency, West Papua-are under threat of conflict.

The Moi tribe is one of the most populous tribes in Sorong Regency. They are confronted with plans to open oil palm plantations.

The company often came to this indigenous community. Until one day, Rp.150 million was poured into each clan as compensation for clearing 14 thousand hectares of forest. “With a note that we can plant on our land, NOT sell it,” said Barnabas Malalu (47) in Waimon District. Barnabas acts as a representative of the Malalu clan.

But several years since signing the contract, they have not found a bright spot. “Where is the road that was promised to be built? Where is the lighting? It’s as if everything was just forgotten, just promises of heaven. We feel played,” he said.

Most people have now begun to realize the rottenness of development propaganda, supposedly for the sake of creating jobs for indigenous people.

Paulus Sapisa, Chairman of the Moi Tribal Council, representing several threatened families said, “If the palm oil industry continues to arrive with stakes of hundreds and even thousands of hectares targeting our land, it is a subtle murder of us indigenous people,” he continued, “Ask residents in West Gisim District, how much customary land have they handed over to the company? And did it all benefit them?”

“The forest for us is like a biological mother who gives birth and breastfeeds, as in the Moi language called ‘Tam Sini’ which means the one who feeds and drinks. While the thing that describes the state of indigenous peoples without forests is like ‘Werbu Wobolok’, which means he has a spine but it has been broken.”

*Honorable Mention for Photo Contest on Climate Change Stories
Text Editor: My Climate Team

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