RELEASE: Papua New Guinea’s Indigenous Landowners Stripped of Land Rights as Chinese Communist Influence Grows

PNG government amends Environment Act [search] with no debate to remove powers from landowners to challenge in court resource development projects on their customary land. Move reflects increased pressure by foreign developers, particularly Chinese government's mining agency, whose efforts to dump uncapped 100 million tons of mine waste on ocean floor in Madang Province has been thwarted by pressure exerted by successful legal efforts and campaigning.
(Madang, PNG) – Indigenous landowners have been stripped of ancestral and constitutionally-protected land rights [search] by the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG). The fact that 97% of land has been under communal, customary land tenure has long been a source of pride, provided an important social safety net, and protected against resource corruption. Similar efforts pushed by the World Bank in the 1990s were met with national protests and over-turned. Ultimate power to irrevocably issue resource development environmental permits will now reside with the Department of Environment secretary, an office who's current and past occupants have long been known for flagrant corruption.
The government, through the Environment Minister, Benny Allan, made changes to sections of the Environment Act 2000 to prevent landowners and concerned Papua New Guineans from "interfering" with industrial resource development projects destroying oceans and rainforests -; like the Chinese Ramu Nickel Mine in Madang and Exxon-Mobil Liquid Natural Gas project in the Southern Highlands. Without any warning or consultation, on May 27, 2010, the government of PNG introduced emergency legislation that dissolved the Constitutional rights of all landowners in PNG, including the right of Indigenous People to own land, challenge resource projects in court and receive any compensation for environmental damage. The bill was passed without being seen or debated by parliamentarians.

"Chinese communist techniques are corroding Papua New Guinea's democracy. Environment Act amendments reflect increasing Chinese communist control of the PNG government, and Prime Minister Michael Somare's move towards authoritarian rule. The amended act makes communities powerless third parties as their resources are stolen. The most vulnerable in PNG society are being stripped of customary as well as English common law rights, denying democratic freedom. With no means to protect their land, families and culture; this can only lead to more Bougainville type revolutionary conflict, as landowners are pushed over the cliff, become desperate, and have no legal recourse to remedy legitimate grievances." states Dr. Glen Barry, Asples Madang and EcoInternet President.
The Act refers to recent court decisions concerning the Chinese-owned Ramu nickel mine in Madang Province. The mine has been met with a great deal of resistance by local indigenous landowners, local NGOs and EcoInternet because of its submarine tailings disposal plan that would dump more than 100 million tons of tailings waste into Basamuk Bay. A secret report commissioned by the PNG government recently confirmed “mine waste will not lie dormant on the sea floor, as claimed by the Chinese State owned Ramu mine, but will be widely dispersed in the Vitiaz Strait, notably towards Madang and Karkar Island and across Astrolobe Bay.” This is one of the world's last great tuna fisheries.
Sadly, with this new law in place, the largest Chinese mine outside of China is now free to dump into Madang's Basamuk Bay with impunity. They don't even have to worry about getting fined. The Act's amendments come after a petition against ocean waste dumping was presented to the Deputy Prime Minister and Environment Minister in Bongu Village, Madang Province on April 10th. In response, the corrupt regime chose to suppress the rights of landowners who are concerned about their lives and the environment. Without legal means to protect their land and seas from foreign resource invaders, there is already talk in Madang of "taking it up to the next level" and pursuing other means of resistance. It is highly unlikely the mine will ever commence as anger grows.


  1. Is there a mass email to be sent to the PNG government on this issue? I'm ready to press the button.

  2. China has such a swollen population and little land left to provide for their own needs. Thus they have become a roving parasite to conquer other nations' resources. Less developed nations such as PNG and corrupt nations such as Peru are easy pickings! Growth for growth's sake is the route to environmental devastation and abuse of human land rights. The problem will escalate as the planet heads towards 10 billion people!

  3. China thinks they need to mine these minerals ONLY because our wealthy nations have not legislated to prevent waste. We buy then toss to the tip. With Extended Producer Responsibility [deposits and refund] Legislation in the wealthier nations the Chinese would make their products for long life, repair and re-use. Then continual over- mining would cease and indigenous people would not have their ancestral lands threatened

  4. We will keep pushing back, to stop each destructive proposal like this one. We can also address the underlying consumption driver. Like Keelah above, I want to see extended producer responsibility become a reality, so that resources are used sensibly, and the environment can be better protected.
    Thank you Glen, for your courage in leading a charge towards an enlightened future.

  5. Rain forest is one of the natural wealth which is difficult to update because it must be kept continuance.
    I tried to keep those natural resources by planting trees which have a short harvest time, so that forest communities can earn income from these crops and forests remain intact wholeness

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