Jakarta. Activists from the non-governmental organization Greenpeace Indonesia staged a protest in front of the Environment and Forestry Ministry building in Central Jakarta last Friday, demanding the government to return the customary forests in Papua to the indigenous people.
The protest was based on a Greenpeace International report titled "License to Clear" and published on April 6, 2021, which revealed allegations of systematic violations on plantation and forest release permits in Papua between 2011 and 2019.
The report also revealed that peatland and forest protection initiatives introduced by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's administration, including the Forest Moratorium and the Oil Palm Moratorium, failed to produce the reforms promised.
The measures "are hamstrung by poor implementation and a lack of enforceability," Greenpeace International said in a statement.
Also, land clearing in Papua would lead to a massive carbon release that should undo Indonesia's progress in tackling climate change, the organization said.
"It will be nearly impossible for Indonesia to meet its commitments in the Paris Agreement if the estimated 71.2 million tonnes of forest carbon stored in the plantation concession lands targeted for clearing in Papua Province are released," Greenpeace International said.
The protesters demanded the government to take corrective action immediately and return the forest to the indigenous people.
The protesters staged a theatrical protest, bringing burning trees, forest fires, and chainsaw replicas. They carry posters that express the rights of the Papuan peoples that reads "Save Papuan Indigenous Peoples," "Stop Licensing Destruction of Papua's Forest," and convey a hashtag "#SayaBersamaHutanPapua."