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Jakarta Post

‘How can we give them up?’: Sabuai people bring fight to protect sacred forests

  • Belseran Christ

    The Jakarta Post

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Maluku   /   Sat, January 16, 2021   /  12:21 pm
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Indigenous Sabuai people block heavy equipment to prevent what they claim is illegal logging on their customary land and forest on Seram Island, Maluku, in February 2020.(Courtesy of/Kaleb Yamarua)

It has been almost a year since 21-year-old Khaleb Yamarua, a resident of Sabuai village in Maluku’s Eastern Seram regency, was arrested for a vandalism charge after trying to protect his village’s heritage forest. Yet, he was still able to grimly recall the details of that day as if it only happened yesterday. On Feb. 18, 2020, at around 10 a.m. Eastern Indonesian Time, police officers stormed his village and proceeded to round him and dozens of other residents up, following a report filed by CV Sumber Berkat Makmur, a logging firm, accusing them of malicious destruction of property. A day before the police questioned them in relation to the company’s damaged equipment, the indigenous Sabuai people staged a protest to stop the loggers from felling trees on a site they claimed was part of their tribal land. Read also: Indigenous groups combine rituals, proto...