22 May 2020

Papuan dies after complaining about oil palm company

4:06 pm on 22 May 2020

A West Papuan man has died shortly after allegedly being hit by a police officer while making a complaint against a palm oil company.

Deforestation in Indonesian-ruled West Papua.

Forest clearance for oil palm plantation in Indonesian-administered Papua province. Photo: Mighty Earth

Indonesian media say the man claimed the company knocked down his banana plantation in the southeast of Papua province.

Marius Betera, from Asiki village in Boven Digoel regency, visited the company, PT Tunas Sawa Erma to complain about not being notified prior to the felling of his trees near the company's plantation.

The Jakarta Post reports the company called a police officer to attend to the man who it alleged carried a machete.

According to witness accounts collated by the Merauke Archdiocese's Secretariat of Justice and Peace and the Pusaka Foundation, the officer arrived and struck Mr Betera on the neck and head, then kicked him in the stomach.

Mr Betera left the company's offices and went to a health clinic where he collapsed and died.

Boven Digoel police say they have arrested the police officer who allegedly attacked Marius and asked the family of the victim to file an official report.

The attack occurred at the office of a subsiuduary of Korindo Group, a Korean-Indonesian logging and palm oil conglomerate with a long record of deforestation in the region.

The employee and its security staffers also reportedly witnessed the violence.

Marius Betera was understood to be a former palm oil plantation employee.