Statement by Pak Rajes, Pargamanan-Bintang Community Leader, from Change.org Indonesia:
For decades, forest has been the source of life for Pargamanan-Bintang Maria Indigenous Community in Parlilitan District, Humbang Hasundutan Regency, North Sumatera.
By utilizing the sap of the benzoin tree, we can earn our livelihood, collect offerings for the church, and send our children to universities and even abroad.
Sadly, that only happened in the past!
Now, we are even facing difficulties to meet our basic needs for food.
For Batak people, the land is an identity. ‘Marga’ (clan) is ‘Huta’ (village) and ‘Huta' is ‘Marga'.
That's why, me as 'Raja Huta’ (head of villagers) in Pargamanan Bintang Maria, I am angry and sad to see our life now.
Not only that, our village is now frequently flooded. This is because 40% of our benzoin forest that belongs to Pargamanan Bintang Maria community was taken over by company named PT. Toba Pulp Lestari (TPL).
PT. TPL cleared our benzoin forest and turn it into eucalyptus plantation, as a main material for pulp, paper and viscose fiber, materials that we use for paper and clothes.
PT. TPL destroys our forest, the source of our clean water, rainwater catchment, and medicine. Not only that, the ecosystem destruction also affecting our benzoin forest quality and quantity.
In the past, to get 5 kilograms of benzoin resin, you only needed to tap from 3 benzoin 3 trees. But now, we have tap dozens of trees, but still we cannot get expected result.
Yet from this benzoin forest, we depend our live.
For decades, we have been fighting for our customary forest, from the crimes of PT. TPL. If we remain silent, our forests will die, as well as our lives.
Therefore, we ask Ministry of Environment and Forestry (MoEF) Indonesia to acknowledge Pargamanan Bintang Maria customary forest immediately.
In order to protect our benzoin forest that belongs to Indigenous Peoples of Pargamanan-Bintang Maria from destruction, and save our lives.
Please help us by signing and share this petition. We don't want to be Batak people lost their land. Because it means if we lost our identity, we lost our clan.
Greetings from the frontline struggle,
The Indigenous Peoples of Pargamanan Bintang Maria