Clearing of sago trees in Sorong to make way for palm oil plantations

The Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning/National Land Agency (BPN) and the government of Sorong Regency, Southwest Papua (Papua Barat Daya) Province, are being urged to review the permits and impose strict sanctions on PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera (IKSJ) following recent trespassing on customary land.

This demand was made by the Klagilit clan after discovering that PT IKSJ had entered their customary territory without free, prior, and informed consent (FPIC). Mr Ambrosius Klagilit, a young lawyer from the Moi tribe representing the Klagilit clan, reported that in December 2023, the clan was alarmed by the activities of PT IKSJ, which began clearing sago trees in their traditional area.

In December 2023, the Klagilit clan became aware of the clearing taking place in a sago grove known as Mageme. A clan member halted the destruction activities on 28 December 2023, after discovering yellow ribbons marking the area for clearance, which were subsequently removed by the clan.

To confirm the extent of the trespassing, several Klagilit clan representatives used GPS to measure the affected area on 30 December 2023. They found that approximately 300 metres in length and 10 metres in width of their customary forest and sago grove had been cleared by the company.

The clearing resulted in the loss of about 1,000 sago trees and other economically valuable trees, causing an estimated 2,5 billion IDR (around 142,750 EUR) in damages. These sago trees are a staple food for Papuans, including the Klagilit clan, and were reportedly uprooted to construct a road.

Despite taking legal steps to hold PT IKSJ accountable, the Klagilit clan has yet to receive a response. Complaints were filed with the Ministry of Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning/National Land Agency on 11 February 2024, the National Human Rights Commission on 7 February 2024, the National Land Agency of Sorong Regency and the Regional People’s Representative Council of Sorong Regency. However, no follow-up has been received.

The Klagilit clan states that PT IKSJ obtained the Right to Use Business (HGU) without informing the clan, violating customary and FPIC rights. Indonesian law, e.g Article 12(1) of Law No 39/2914, requires business actors to deliberate and obtain community approval before proceeding with such activities.

The Klagilit clan is calling for an evaluation of PT IKSJ’s permits and the imposition of strict sanctions for the unauthorised displacement of land and forest. They emphasise the need for BPN and the Sorong Regency Government to scrutinise the company’s activities and ensure accountability.

One anonymous clan member expressed their determination to protect their customary lands and prevent further encroachment, highlighting the destruction caused by companies and the need to preserve their forests for future generations.

Investigations revealed that PT IKSJ and PT IKS are subsidiaries of PT Ciliandry Anky Abadi (CAA), a private Indonesian company acquired from the Indonesian Plywood Company (KALIA) Group, owned by the Sutanto family. CAA also owns PT Inti Kebun Lestari (IKL) in the region.

Mr Ciliandry Fangiono, listed by Forbes Magazine as one of Indonesia’s wealthiest individuals and CEO of First Resources, owns shares in PT CAA and its subsidiaries. Although First Resources maintains a relationship with PT CAA, it has distanced itself from the latter.

According to a report by Chain Reaction Research, PT CAA was among the top 10 companies responsible for deforestation in 2020. PT CAA owns palm oil mills PT Tirta Madura and PT Borneo Ketapang Indah, which supply major companies such as Avon, Friesland Campina, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, and L’Oreal.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Sorong (-0.851540337739888, 131.32653662039215
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Barat Daya Province, Sorong Regency
total number of victims: dozens
period of incident: 15.06.2024
perpetrator: company
perpetrator details: PT Inti Kebun Sejahtera (IKSJ)
Issues: indigenous peoples, cultural rights, right to food
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
dozensunknown unknown unknownindigenouscultural rights