JAKARTA — Indigenous people in Indonesia’s easternmost Papua province are protesting against a company that’s preparing to raze their ancestral forest for a plantation megaproject plagued by allegations of irregularities and wrongdoing.
Members of the Auyu tribe are demanding the government freeze the operations of PT Indo Asiana Lestari (IAL), whose 39,190-hectare (96,840-acre) concession forms one chunk of the larger Tanah Merah project that has been fought over by competing groups of investors over the past decade.
If developed in full, the Tanah Merah project would result in the clearance of 280,000 hectares (692,000 acres) of the third-largest stretch of rainforest on the planet, to be replaced with several contiguous oil palm estates run by various companies — some of which are owned by unknown investors hiding behind anonymously held firms in the Middle East.
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