Advocacy Team to Save Papua’s Indigenous Forests – Press Release

Jakarta, 9 May 2023 – Brandishing shields, bows, and legal dossiers, Auyu environmental warriors today took the fight for their traditional land from the forests of South Papua into a Jakarta courtroom. The Auyu women and men donned traditional body paint and bird of paradise headdresses before officially intervening in legal proceedings taken by two palm oil companies in the Jakarta State Administrative Court. 

The companies, PT Megakarya Jaya Raya and PT Kartika Cipta Pratama, had earlier begun cases to appeal a decision by Indonesia’s Minister of Environment and Forestry regarding Indigenous forestland unilaterally released by the state to the plantation companies in Boven Digoel district, part of the region known internationally as West Papua.

“Our goal in intervening in this trial is to emphasize that Papua is not an empty land. Even though the Indonesian state has not recognised Papuan Indigenous land rights, we have come all the way to Jakarta to intervene on the side of the minister to protect our forestland from companies that want to destroy it. The lawsuits of the two companies will have an impact on the lives of the Auyu tribe, we must become involved to defend our rights,” said Hendrikus ‘Franky’ Woro, an environmentalist and leader of the Auyu People. 

“The Auyu People are totally dependent on land – our forests, rivers, swamps and other natural resources. These are our sources of livelihood, food and medicine, as well as our socio-cultural identity. The forest is an ‘eternal bank account’ for Indigenous Peoples,” said Franky.

PT Megakarya Jaya Raya and PT Kartika Cipta Pratama, located in one contiguous block in the new province of South Papua, are connected to the multi-billion dollar Hayel Saeed Anam Group.[1] A total of 8,828 hectares of Indigenous forestland has already been cleared by the holder of the two concessions. Yet 65,415 hectares of pristine rainforest remains to fight for, six times the area of the city of Paris, and vital for regulation of Earth’s climate.[2] 

“These two companies are part of the long running ‘Tanah Merah’ affair, and were at the center of a murky permit fraud scandal,” said Greenpeace Indonesia’s Sekar Banjaran Aji, a member of the Advocacy Team to Save Papua’s Forests. “Their new lawsuit suggests there has been some degree of action to implement a 2022 decree issued by Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya revoking forest release permits. However, it is entirely untransparent – the rights and interests of Indigenous Papuans, including land rights and the rights to information and participation are being ignored,” Sekar said. 

“The Minister for Forestry and Environment must provide public access to information and recognise Indigenous landowners’s rights and traditional knowledge in forest area management. Ignoring this is a rights violation,” said Pusaka Foundation’s Tigor Gemdita Hutapea, also a member of the Advocacy Team to Save Papua’s Forests.

Apart from their intervention in the Jakarta State Administrative Court, representatives of the Auyu Indigenous people also filed a complaint with the National Commission on Human Rights in Jakarta today, and two months ago began legal action demanding revocation of a permit issued over their land to another palm oil company, PT Indo Asiana Lestari.

Advocacy Team to Save Papua’s Indigenous Forests

Association of Defenders of Indonesian Indigenous Peoples (PPMAN), Pusaka Foundation, Greenpeace Indonesia, Satya Bumi, LBH Papua, Walhi Papua, Walhi National Executive, PILNet Indonesia, Institute for Community Studies and Advocacy (Elsam), HuMa Indonesia.

Photos and notes:

Photos of today’s activities are available. Note that Auyu is also written in Indonesian as ‘Awyu’. 

[1] See evidence presented in a complaint lodged with the RSPO.

[2] See ‘Licence to Clear’ p.32 and forest cover/deforestation maps in the Nusantara Atlas.

[3] File photos and video footage of deforestation in PT Megakarya Jaya Raya’s concession.

[4] The PTUN Jakarta case tracking information site shows that PT Megakarya Jaya Raya registered its lawsuit on March 10, 2023 with the case number 82/G/2023/PTUN.JKT. Meanwhile, PT Kartika Cipta Pratama registered its lawsuit on March 15, 2023 with case number 82/G/2023/PTUN.JKT.


Igor O’Neill, Greenpeace Indonesia, [email protected] +61-414-288-424

Tigor Gemdita Hutapea, Pusaka Foundation +62 812-8729-6684

Sekar Banjaran Aji, Greenpeace Indonesia +62 812-8776-9880