Call for action on SABL by 10,000 customary landowners

About 10,000 post cards signed by concerned customary landowners across the country were delivered today to the Lands Department Office calling for action on the Special Agriculture Business Lease land grab.

The signed post cards petitioning the Government were presented by representatives from SABL affected areas organised by community advocacy group ACT NOW.

Paul Pavol from Mu village in Pomio, East New Britain Province led the group to deliver their grievances calling on the Prime Minister Peter O’Neill and the Government to cancel the leases and stop SABL.

In June 2013, the SABL Commission of Inquiry revealed how government officers have facilitated the theft of over 50,000 square kilometres of land from customary landholders.

So far, promises by the Prime Minister to cancel the leases, stop illegal logging and return the land to its rightful owners, as the Commission recommended, have not been fulfilled.

Campaign coordinator Eddie Tanago says the Government needs to stop protecting the foreign companies and overseas loggers who have stolen the land.

Tanago said not one lease has been revoked by the government and in the meantime logs worth hundreds of millions of dollars have been shipped overseas from illegal logging operations.   

Pavol explained that they’ve been mistreated on their own land with permanent damage done to the environment.

He said his people, similar to others throughout the country, have been fighting alone for years to get back their land and they’re still struggling through the courts to try and defend their birth rights.

On behalf of the people in the SABL affected areas, Pavol called on the Government to stop making empty promises and look into their grievances to cancel all leases and stop SABL.

Quintina Naime