Stories of Merauke, West Papua

From Engage Media

Alex Mahuze is a Malind tribesman and a sago farmer in Merauke. His clan has for generations lived in harmony with nature. The arrival of the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) program has forced him to earn money through other means, which ironically harms the environment. He lost his lands and his culture is threatened, but Alex fights on. * Sago, or Metroxylon sagu is a species of palm in the genus Metroxylon. It tolerates a wide variety of soils and may reach 30 meters in height. Several other species of the genus metroxylon, particularly metroxylon salomonense and metroxylon amicarum, are also used as sources of sago through Melanesia and Micronesia. In addition to its use as a food source, the leaves and spathe of the sago palm are used for construction materials and for thatching roofs, and the fibre can be made into rope. * Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate – MIFEE – was announced on 18 February 2010 by the former Bupati of Merauke, J.G Gebze and officially launched on 11 August 2010 by the Minister of Agriculture, Siswono Yodohusodo on behalf of the Indonesian President. The project involves 36 investors, 13 of whom are already operating in the area. MIFEE covers an area of 1.6 million hectares and plans to bring into the area a work force of four million people. Malind Anim is the indigenous people of Merauke, south of Papua. The tribe has customs and practices which are very ecological. At present, the Malind Anim people are facing cultural destruction as a result to the Indonesian government's support for the 36 multinational companies that plan to take away customary lands, clear forests, destroy sacred places, and make their sources of lives disappear. In August, a group of Malind Anim tribespeople danced and expressed their feeling in the town centre.