Destruction of community plantations in Timika highlights lack legal protection

Long-standing tensions in Timika have escalated, resulting in the significant destruction of local community plantations. The conflict began in 2017 and has reached alarming levels in 2024 with repeated incidents of violence, destruction, and threats. The person behind these actions is an individual known by the initials YG.

Timeline of Events:

May 17, 2017: YG initially occupied the location of SD Negeri 9 Timika and constructed a house, marking the beginning of his controversial presence in the area.

January 14-19, 2024: YG and his associates brought in heavy equipment and armed themselves with bows, arrows, and other sharp tools. It is suspected that they received funds from second and third parties. This led to the destruction of various community plantations. Banana trees, cassava, sweet potatoes, pineapples, peanuts, papaya, soursop, and vegetable plantations were cleared. The community members faced threats with sharp tools.

March 28, 2024: YG and his associates, using heavy equipment and armed with weapons, threatened the community, leading to the destruction of plantations owned by Mrs Debora Yobee and Mr Stepanus Gobai (sweet potatoes, cassava, bananas).

April 3, 2024: At 5:00 pm, YG and his group again entered and destroyed further plantations using machetes while threatening community members.

April 14, 2024: Backed by a third party, identified as a group from the Kei Tribe, YG conducted further clearing and destruction of Rev. Daniel Makai’s garden. This involved the theft of bananas and the cutting down of rambutan and mango trees using machetes, alongside threatening community members.

May 14, 2024: At around 5:00 pm, YG, accompanied by members of the Kei Tribe, sprayed an unknown substance on vegetable and sweet potato plants, adding to the ongoing destruction.

June 15, 2024: At 1:00 pm , YG and the Kei Tribe people destroyed further community gardens., carrying bows, arrows, spears, machetes, and catapult arrows, threatening the community.

Legal challenges:

Efforts to address these incidents through legal channels have been met with significant challenges. Numerous police reports filed by the community regarding the destruction of their plantations were not acted upon, with authorities directing these cases to be settled outside of the law rather than criminal prosecution. The lack of responsiveness by authorities has left the victims without justice or recourse. The perpetrators also threatened a member of the Mimika Regional House of Representatives (DPRD) with arrows and bows, leading to a police report. This was the only case that received a response. Yet, no action was taken against the perpetrators.

The ongoing violence and destruction of plantations in Timika highlight the urgent need for effective legal intervention and protection for West Papuan communities facing land grabbing and intimidation. The lack of action by authorities continues to exacerbate the tension and insecurity faced by indigenous communities.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Timika (-4.546827258993056, 136.88668120041748)
administrative region: Indonesia, Papua Tengah Province, Mimika Regency, Timika town
total number of victims: dozens
period of incident: 17.05.2017 – 15.06.2024
perpetrator: police
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: indigenous peoples, cultural rights, right to food
Sources:
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
dozensunknown unknown unknownindigenousright to food