INDONESIA: Police are still at the Konawe Islands Regency and residents are frightened

(Hong Kong, March 25, 2022)

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from local network about police are still at the Konawe Islands Regency.

After Gema Kreasi Perdana Company grabbed the land of residents who objected to mine on Tuesday (1/03) and last Thursday, (3/03), the Konawe Islands Regency Government through its Deputy Regent Mr. Andi Muhammad Lutfi made an open statement through a short video containing: [1] The situation in Konawe Islands (read: Roko-Roko Raya) is safe and conducive, [2] The existence of Gema Kreasi Perdana Company is legal, basically a Mining Business Permit and Spatial Regional Planning for Konkep Regency.

Claim the Situation is Safe and Conducive

The statement by the Deputy Regent of Konkep Mr. Andi Muhammad Lutfi that the situation at the location is safe and conducive tends to be manipulative and contains dishonesty elements.

First, after the land grabbing on March 1st and 3rd, residents who object to mining in Roko-Roko Raya are actually still concerned and frightened of the police officers who are still pacing and staying at the Gema Kreasi Perdana Company basecamp. The residents’ fears are also related to some of the residents who object to mine which they have been reported to the police by the company since 2019.

Second, the presence of police officers at the Gema Kreasi Perdana Company basecamp, along with the potential resistance of residents who had previously been reported to the police and involved in ambushes on March 1st and 2nd, have made residents reluctant to return home until now. The consequence is that residents no longer focus on managing their farms as the main source of their economy.

Third, on Friday, March 4th, the day after the land grabbing which caused a number of women passed out, police officers came to the woman farmer’s residence who involved in the ambush. The police, in an intimidating way, asked about who ordered the female farmers to take off their clothes during the ambush, and they were threatened with being reported under the pornography law.

So the claim of the Deputy Regent of Konkep is not true, tends to make it up. Instead of providing correct information, the Deputy Regent of Konkep was even involved in negotiating to a number of residents who objected to mining which, aiming to open the opportunity for Gema Kreasi Perdana Company to enter.

“The claim for the existence of Gema Kreasi Perdana Company is legal, has a Mining Business Permit and is based on the Konkep Regency Spatial and Regional Plan (RTRW)”
The Deputy Regent of Konkep, Mr. Andi Muhammad Lutfi also claimed that the existence of Gema Kreasi Perdana Company was legal. Mr. Andi refers to the mining business permit and the Konawe Islands RTRW Number 22 of 2021.

Mining Permit Gema Kreasi Perdana Company

First, Konawe Islands or Wawonii Island is a small island, the area is only 708.32km2. The existence of the Gema Kreasi Perdana Company Mining Business Permit, including a number of other mining companies on Wawonii Island actually contradicts the mandate of Law Number 1 of 2014 concerning Amendments to Law Number 27 of 2007 concerning Management of Coastal Areas and Small Islands, where the use of small islands is not prioritized for the mining activities.

Second, referring to the document of Regional Regulation Number 9 of 2018 concerning Zoning Plans for Coastal Areas and Small Islands of Southeast Sulawesi Province for 2018-2038, Wawonii Island is not allocated for mining areas. In this Regional Regulation, Wawonii Island and its surrounding waters are allocated for Public Utilization Areas, namely Capture Fisheries Activities.

Third, the mining permit for Gema Kreasi Perdana Company and all mining companies in Konkep was actually issued when Konkep Regency was still the administrative area of Konawe Regency. The residents did not discovering the whole process of issuing the mining permit, all took place in a closed room, allegedly full of corruption. The basic aspect of the people’s veto right to say no or refuse is ignored, all for the benefit of mining corporations and a handful of local political elites who are in power.

Fourth, the Special Terminal (Tersus) owned by Gema Kreasi Perdana Company which was built in Sukarela Jaya Village, Southeast Wawonii District, is also not regulated in the Southeast Sulawesi Regional Regulation Number 9 of 2018-2038 concerning the Zoning Plan for Coastal Zone and Small Islands (RZWP3K). The Head of Sub-Directorate for Small and Outer Islands of the Director General of Marine Spatial Management (PRL) of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Mr. Ahmad Aris revealed as regulated in Article 12 of Regional Regulation Number 9 of 2018 where the location is allocated for the General Utilization Area of the Capture Fisheries Zone (KPU-PT).

Regional Spatial Plan (RTRW) Konawe Islands

As is known, Konawe Islands Regency, although it has established since 2013, the Regional Spatial Plan (RTRW) is still being held in the Ministry of Agrarian and Spatial Planning (ATR/BPN). So for the sake of direction in utilizing space, the Konawe Islands Regency still refers to the Konawe RTRW, as the main district before it was divided. In the RTRW of Konawe Regency, there is no allocation of space for mines in the Konawe Islands.

However, after in an uncertain condition for a long time, the Regional Spatial Plan (RTRW) Konkep which had been held up at the Ministry of ATR/BPN in Jakarta, was suddenly discussed through a Coordination Meeting to Discuss Substance Approval for RTRW Konawe Islands Regency at the BPN Regional Office of Southeast Sulawesi Province on March 23th, 2021. Shortly after, the RTRW Regional Regulation was legalized, with the issuance of Regional Regulation Number 2 of 2021 concerning Spatial Planning and the Konawe Islands Regency. In this regional regulation, surprisingly there was an allocation of space for mining.
As with the mining permit issuance process, the discussion process, academic studies and the Strategic Environmental Studies (KLHS) of the Konkep RTRW which was legalized, was not opened to the public, did not involve the community, and were even suspected of being infiltrated by the interests of mining companies.

This allegation is getting stronger, considering that after the RTRW Regional Regulation was legalized, the Konkep Regency Government and Gema Kreasi Perdana Company signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on September 30, 2021. Through this MoU, Gema Kreasi Perdana Company is able to carry out business activities on Wawonii Island.

Thus, the entire claims of the Konawe Islands Regency Government through the Deputy Regent Mr. Andi Muhammad Lutfi through the video that has been widely circulated, did not depart from the actual situation and reality. The government tends to cover up and try to manipulate information.

The statement made by the Deputy Regent of Konkep appears to be an attempt to provide the opportunity for the operation of Gema Kreasi Perdana Company, a subsidiary of the Harita Group. Meanwhile, the residents who objected to the mining lived in fear due to the torrent of threats and intimidation, were left to fend for themselves. This further strengthens the allegation that the Regent and Deputy Regent of Konkep often serve the interests of mining corporations rather than work to ensure legal guarantees for residents and their living spaces which continue to be threatened.