Students reject port construction on Sumuruman-Mappi customary land

The Wiachar Student Association - IMAWI rejects the government's plan to build a container port on the customary land of the Wiachar tribe in Sumuruman Village, Minyamur District, Mappi Regency, South Papua - JUBI/FOTO IMAWI

Merauke, Jubi – The Wiachar Student Association (IMAWI) of Mappi Regency in South Papua Province rejected the government’s plan to build a container port on the customary land area of the Wiachar tribe in Sumuruman Village, Minyamur District, Mappi.

IMAWI chairman Muhamad Bilal Kamogou in a written statement received by Jubi on Monday, April 10, 2023, said indigenous people in Sumuruman Village firmly do not allow part of their customary land to be built a port.

“Since 2018, the Wiachar indigenous community have rejected the government’s plan by writing to the regent, lawmakers, transportation office, public works office, and Mappi fisheries office. The indigenous people also put up signs and blocked several locations,” Kamogou said.

Rejection again emerged in 2022 after certain parties tried to persuade the local community to give up their customary land for the container port, as well as persuading through a petition, making it seem as if the community willing to release their customary land. This third party’s actions had the potential to cause conflict there.

“A third party coerced and intimidated the Wiachar indigenous people to sign a petition accepting the construction of a container port. The action can trigger conflict there, and there has even been an incident of persecution against one of the residents in relation to this matter,” he said.

Corresponding with the aspirations of the indigenous people, the Wiachar Student Association urged the Acting Governor of South Papua to order the Acting Regent of Mappi to revoke the permit to build a container port in the customary territory of the Wiachar tribe.

“The Mappi Regency Government must respect the customary rights owners of the Wiachar tribe. The local government must immediately coordinate with the police to investigate and process individuals on behalf of customary owners who have made fake customary releases,” he said.

Kamogou also asked the local government and the police to prevent potential conflicts there, given the community’ rejection regarding the planned construction in Sumuruman.

“We also ask all parties, in this case the Papuan indigenous people, students, humanitarian and environmental activists to support the struggle of the Wiachar tribe to defend customary land. We also hope that Komnas HAM and the Papuan People’s Assembly will not remain silent regarding this issue,” Kamogou concluded. (*)

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