PAPUA NEW GUINEA RAINFOREST: Madang Police Issue Violent Warning to Logging Opposition
By Earth’s Newsdesk and Asples PNG, projects of EcoInternet
CONTACT: Dr. Glen Barry, firstname.lastname@example.org
With logging stopped by court order, violence breaks out in Ramu logging area in Papua New Guinea. Two youths in custody for stealing from loggers shot as a warning to the community. With local opposition to Rimbunan Hijau and continued industrial logging growing, foreign logger turns to further bribery and intimidation.
(MADANG, PAPUA NEW GUINEA) – Logging has been stopped for nearly two weeks at the Ramu Block 1 concession held by Rimbunan Hijau (RH) of Malaysia in Madang, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Facing a court order, a plethora of other court proceedings, and rising local landowner discontent, RH has responded by calling on the police to send a warning to logging opposition, and widely making cash bribes to be allowed to resume logging.
Last week, drunken youth became angry with company employees and ill-advisedly robbed a tool shed. First thing the next morning two youth leaders were caught by officers (who were allegedly visibly intoxicated). While restrained and in police custody, the youths were shot at point blank range in the leg, and let go. The youths are recovering in the hospital, and information is being gathered for legal proceedings.
“Logging companies bribing police to send a warning to opposition is not ethical or just development. Violence has come to Madang Province, as various Asian logging, mining and fishing industries fall over themselves to harvest these resources immediately and incautiously,” notes EcoInternet’s President, Dr. Glen Barry. “Clearly PNG’s resource allocation processes have become corrupted and Madang’s three big development projects -; RH logging, tuna canneries, and Ramu mine -; must be stopped and thoroughly investigated.”
“Asples PNG” -; a new PNG campaign NGO advocating for landowner rights and ecological sustainability — calls upon the PNG parliament to suspend these projects, and take such actions as necessary to investigate who is being bribed and corrupted, to allow projects to go ahead on Madang’s clan owned land without prior and informed consent. There is a higher law than the Forest Authority, it is to protect the land that took care of your ancestors (graun i bin lukautim tumbuna bilong yumi).
A local landowner protest group has organized a petition signed by 70% of local clan leaders asking that Rimbunan Hijau immediately withdraw and have the timber permit terminated. They note the corruption in the tendering process, failed infrastructure promises, human rights violations and violence against landowners, and shocking rates of logging and environmental damage. Landowners also seek to lodge the legal papers required to officially withdraw from the Forest Management Area agreement, but are short of finance and seeking assistance to do so.
Madang Province is a remote coastal paradise containing rich, large and intact rainforests with low population densities. This lowland, relatively accessible source of ancient timbers is much sought after by the timber industry. Madang is also being inundated with huge tuna cannery and mining operations. Local indigenous peoples are extremely discouraged that their resources are being given out by the central government without their prior and informed consent. Expect further protest until this is remedied.
Dr. Glen Barry is a leading global spokesperson on behalf of environmental sustainability policy.