31 Aug 2016

Papuan plea to Widodo to save forests

8:26 pm on 31 August 2016

A priest in Indonesia's Papua regoin has appealed to President Joko Widodo to halt the destruction of pristine forests by a palm oil developer.

The Catholic UCA news service reports Father Anselmus Amo saying the forest in Papua's Muting area, about 200 kilometres from Merauke, is being snatched from tribal people who depend on it for their survival.

NASA image of smoke and fires in Indonesia's Papua province and neighbouring Papua New Guinea. Actively burning areas are outlined in red. September 2015.

The south eastern region of Papua province has seen significant forest clearance and fires from destroyed forest and peatlands in the past year. Photo: NASA

Tribal leaders say they are being intimidated by the military to hand their land over to the palm company - PT Agroprima Cipta Persada.

The priest who heads the Diocesan Justice and Peace Commission said he had petitioned the president because he was the last hope for the people.

He said petitions sent to the local government, military, and police have been ignored.

Father Amo told the website that the issue has caused widespread anxiety and tension between people, the company, local government and law enforcers.

He said he has also approached the National Commission on Human Rights.