The Forest Scribe

Walhi, Company, at Odds Over Jambi Conflict Status

illustration of farmer represent by WALHI Jambi

The Jambi Chapter of Friends of the Earth Indonesia (WALHI) and Asia Pulp & Paper (APP) Sinar Mas have remained at odds over whether a social conflict involving a timber company and a local community there had been resolved.

The conflict between APP Sinar Mas’s subsidiary, PT Wirakarya Sakti (WKS), has occurred since 2007 and mediation between the two parties has been carried out several times. The last time the two parties met was at the Tebo Regional Police Station on April 15, 2020.

“The company misinterpreted the results of the discussion at the police station and spread it to the media is a form of public fraud,” said Fran Dodi KPA Jambi Region

APP Sinar Mas, in a press release (13/5), said that the mediation process had reached three agreements. Including that the parties have accepted the mediated results and the problem has been resolved. An APP Sinar Mas executive said that the company still stands with the press release until now.

He even added that some members of the local community also requested that they wanted to be part of the company’s contractor harvesting team. They also took part in the Fire Care Community patrol supported by the company.

“PT WKS has implemented the principles of sustainability including FPIC (Free Prior and Informed Consent) in accordance with applicable regulations and does not violate the law. We also always prioritize dialogue and communication in resolving conflicts with the community,” One of the Sinar Mas APP team members added in a written message to the Scribe team.

WALHI said that the mediation process on April 15 was only a gathering and socialization regarding the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic between the community and the new police chief. However, the community felt cornered when they attended and realized that PT WKS was also present.

“Because of the Covid 19 pandemic situation, on 15 April 2020 the Tebo District Police invited the residents to attend and meet with the Tebo Police District Chief with the purpose of socialization. However, the meeting was also attended by the company PT. WKS and several other community groups in conflict with the company,” said Martimis, a resident of Lubuk Mandarsah Village.

One of the Sinar Mas APP team members, told The Forest Scribe that the mediation process discussed matters related to the conflict. This was also supported by Tebo Police District Chief, Adjunct Senior Commissioner Abdul Hafidz, who confirmed that he had invited PT WKS, administrators of the Sekato Jaya farmer group, farmer group representative and Walhi Jambi to attend the meeting.

In its press release published in May, APP Sinar Mas also said that all parties, including community representatives, had acknowledged that the area affected by the spraying by the company’s drones, was outside of the agreed boundaries. The farmer group representatives were also said to admit that only 10 to 15 staples of one month old oil palm plantations were affected by the drone activity.

“Based on the explanation of the parties present, the area of ​​concern is the area of ​​PT WKS that had just been harvested. In that area, farmers named Samin and Iwan planted 10 to 15 oil palm stems. Based on our monitoring, this problem has been resolved and the two parties will communicate more intensely,” said Tebo Police District Chief, Adjunct Senior Commissioner Abdul Hafidz.

This is also supported by evidence of an agreement signed by both parties stating that both the company and the farmer group agreed not to disturb each other’s land, evaluations regarding the use of drones, and also both parties have the rights to report conflicts, if there are no settlement of affairs after coordinating with one another.

Meanwhile, another Lubuk Mandarsah resident, Andriyan stated in a press conference held by Walhi Jambi that “acts of violence and intimidation often occur against the community, the seriousness of the company to resolve social conflicts in the field is just not there.”.

Previously, WALHI Jambi together with 90 NGO coalitions also sent open letters to investors and buyers of APP Sinar Mas in the global market, condemning the actions taken by PT WKS and asking them to stop business with APP Sinar Mas.

More news from Didiet Nugraha.
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