My original mind, where are you?
Caged to reflect

Maisin people fight against illegal land grab in Collingwood Bay

Collingwood BayLESTER SERI | PNG Exposed

MY people - the Maisin people - along with our neighbouring communities in Collingwood Bay have been fighting to protect our customary lands from illegal land grabs for logging and palm oil development for nearly three decades.

In 2002 we won a four year court battle against the government for illegally leasing our land for logging and palm oil projects without the consent of the customary landowners.

Yet, in 2012 this same land area was leased again to suspect middlemen landowner companies and ultimately sold to Malaysian palm oil company Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad (KLK).

When I and several other landowners heard that our lands had been leased without our consent again, we took our case to court once more.

In May of this year, the National Court of Papua New Guinea declared the two leases claimed by KLK illegal again and ordered them to be cancelled. While this court victory was important, KLK has not yet left Collingwood Bay and our struggle continues.

The people and the forests of Collingwood Bay need your support now more than ever. Please stand with us now and tell KLK to leave Collingwood Bay immediately!

KLK was forced to give up two leases on customary lands through the court case, but the company still claims a third lease in Collingwood Bay called Lot 5.

Collingwood Bay - a grand treeIn recent communications, KLK has stated that it has no intentions to leave Lot 5, despite the fact that it is within Maisin customary lands and holds primary forest and small patches of ‘kunai grass’ that our people use annually for game hunting.

As a member of the RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) and through its own voluntary commitments, KLK has also pledged not to clear primary forests, high conservation value forests, or high carbon stock forests, so there is absolutely no way KLK can develop palm oil on Lot 5.

Therefore, there is absolutely no reason for them still to be here, yet they are.

Join me in telling KLK it’s time to pack its bags and leave Collingwood Bay for good.

Our people have been fighting companies like KLK for too long, and we are fed up with their attempts to undermine our local economies and culture and rob us of our rich natural resources.

Our paramount chiefs have said no to these forms of development, and they have said no to palm oil development in Collingwood Bay.

The forests and cultures of the Collingwood Bay people are at stake if KLK proceeds. We urgently need your voice to send this message to KLK loud and clear: No palm oil development and no KLK in Collingwood Bay.

* Lester Seri is a Maisin landowner in Collingwood Bay. He is a coordinator for Oro Communities Environmental Advocacy Network (OCEAN) Inc., which campaigns against illegal land, logging and oil palm issues. He is a graduate of University of Papua New Guinea and was a public servant with the Department of Environment and Conservation for 17 years before becoming executive director of Conservation Melanesia Inc, an environmental NGO.


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Georgina Fororo

Hi Lester - Posting the article on here has been a good move.

I just hope more people will sign the petition that RAN has created to help fight your plea to get the loggers out, even better leave.

I've tweeted the petition asking Twitter followers to retweet it. Get your Facebook and Twitter followers to support you by signing the petition. Spread the word!

Lindsay F Bond

Roads ahead may have turns, twists and maybe tolls.

At best, people seeking something less crooked are in need of resource to map the plot of any deviance.

At worse, is a need of courage to constrain trespassers, but on the spot, at the treasured grounds, and peacefully.

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