Landowners in PNG denied traditional way of life by land lease
Landowners in Pomio, Papua New Guinea, still denied access to their aldn and traditional way of life as fraudulent land lease remains in place.
A landowner in Papua New Guinea's East New Britain province says his people are still denied access to their land held in a lease found by a commission of inquiry to have been fraudulently obtained.
The lease in Pomio, held by a subsidiary of Malaysian logging company Rimbunan Hijau, was one of the Special Agriculture Business Leases which civil society groups claim are merely fronts for unsustainable logging projects.
Almost eight months after the inquiry report was tabled in parliament the government is still reviewing the commission's recommendations which include that the SABLs all be cancelled.
Landowners from the Pomio area like Nobert Pames say failure to cancel the lease means their way of life is destroyed.
Pomio landowner Nobert Pames spoke to Johnny Blades.
NOBERT PAMES: Most of us today, we live on gardening. We work on the land to live. We've found out that we don't have any more right to go and do any more gardening or hunting, all the forest's been cleared. And if we go in and start to do that, the company will get the police on us...
JOHNNY BLADES: The local police?
NP: The local police. So we felt that our right over the land has gone. We have no land use or right to do anything over the land. We feel that our identity... we live in our own way like using the forest and land in our own ways. But what happened today, we feel our identity is gone, our culture has been changing, there's the influence of drunken people with the royalty money from the logs. Social problems arising.
JB: Can you explain how the SABL problem has given rise to that sort of stuff?
NP: Because of no proper awareness or consultation with the landowners. This SABL has been confusing most people in the communities, especially landowners. I can say it's a confusing type of development where we don't see our rights in our lands. And we feel like we're being spectators on the development on our own land. We the landowners haven't given any authority or consent over our land but some other individual people did this by forging names and thinking that the land has gone through proper process. And right now, we see that the development is clear-felling all the trees. We don't have any areas where we can make gardens and all this. So if we come in to stop the development or the developer, then they will get police on us. In fact we have set up some roadblocks trying to stop them but they will send the police to come and arrest us.
JB: If you try and access your own land?
JB: So the police work for the loggers?
NP: The police are here to protect law within the country but what is happening now is that police have been used as private security or a private force for Rimbunan Hijau, that's how we look at it.
To embed this content on your own webpage, cut and paste the following: