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People of Woboyu Traumatised by Gunshots

People of Woboyu Traumatised by Gunshots / Continuing Opposition to Plantations

On 29th September, Romanus Mbaraka, the Bupati or Regency Leader of Merauke, travelled to Kampung Wambi in Okaba District, to try to convince local people that plantation development did not necessarily have to be a bad thing. Hundreds of people from surrounding villages came to hear him speak. A local journalist with tabloidjubi.com also travelled to the event, and took the opportunity to speak to administrative and customary leaders from neighbouring villages about the fear caused by a shooting incident two months previously, and also about the ongoing opposition to all investment plans.

The People of Woboyu Traumatised by Gunshots

The people of Kampung Woboyu until now still feel traumatised by two gunshots which were fired into the air by someone believed to be a member of the security forces.

The shooting incident occurred in July.Nikodemus Kahol, the customary chief in Woboyu told tabloidjubi.com that the two shots were fired at around 11pm at night. At the time, the villagers were very scared and traumatised and feelings of fear still linger until the present day.

When asked why the shooting might have occurred, Kahol claimed that at the time there was a delegation from a company that was collecting data about the people, claiming that they would provide aid. However the people were not certain what the company meant when they talked about aid. The company was not collecting data about all of the people in the area, only some of them.

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That caused a commotion amongst the people, Kahol continued, and so two shots were fired into the air. “To tell the truth we were shocked and started to panic when we heard the shots. People went to hide in their houses”, he said.

Questionned separately, Suprayogi, the chief of police for Okaba district, said that he would visit the village in the near future. “We will go there to find out whether there really were shots fired, as we have been told by local people,” he said.

The People of Okaba, Ngguti and Tubang oppose investment.

In general, people in villages around Okaba Ngguti and Tubang districts oppose plans for investment in in the area. This opposition is in consideration of the fact that forest habitat will be lost.

That was the message of Kampung Wambi’s village head, Kristoforus Basik-Basik when taboidjubi.com spoke to him. In his opinion, in this wide carpet of forest is a diverse ecosystem, starting with tree kangaroos, wild pigs, deer and other animals.

Therefore if the forest is destroyed, the ecosystem it supports will also be lost.

“We have unanimous agreement to oppose any company, wherever they might come from, that comes and wants to invest. The reason is because the people are bound to suffer a great loss if the forest is cut down. I’ll repeat that once more, we do not want our forest habitat destroyed just like that”, he said.

The Customary Chief of Wambi, Wilhelmus Kaize added that the ancestors have reminded us that the land cannot be surrenderred to anyone, and that includes investors. It is better to continue to safeguard it and take care of it. Because a lot of wildlife can be found there.

Merauke’s Bupati (Regency Leader), Romanus Mbaraka said that if the people refuse to accept the presence of corporate investors, then the government should never force the issue. “We will grow in our own way. However, these corporate investors are part of national government policy. I hope that village leaders can help the people to understand correctly. So they do not misinterpret the situation”, he requested.


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