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Sentani Airport, Papua, Indonesia

Communal landowners from four villages whose land was taken for Sentani Airport disrupted airport operations on several occasions, blocking the runway and taxiway. This action helped secure compensation and recognition of their customary land rights.


Residents whose land was taken for Sentani Airport blockaded the runway and taxiway on several occasions, helping them to secure compensation and recognition of their customary land rights. Scores of residents from three tribal groups - Fele, Sokoy and Kalem - closed the airport down on 28th August 2009, by placing bars on the runway, causing flights to be suspended for about two hours. They demanded compensation for communally owned land that was used to build the airport and said they would repeat the action if the issue were not resolved. Protesters only left the runway after being dispersed by the Jayapura Police and after leaving the runway they blocked access to the airport traffic control tower. The head of the airport denied their claim, saying the land was a government asset handed over to the airport, stated that the Papua Transportation Agency had compensated the landowners, but stated there was no ownership certificate as, following independence, it was surrendered by the Dutch colonial administration. Papua Governor Barnabas Suebu issued a decree asking the Jayapura Regency administering to address the tribes’ compensation demand.[1]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Sentani Airport, Papua, Indonesia
State or province:Papua Province
Location of conflict:Jayapura
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land
Project Details and Actors
Project details

Sentani Airport, originally built by the Japanese during the Second World War, is the largest airport in the Papua Province, situated to the west of Jayapura, capital city of Papua province, close to the northern coast, near the shore of Lake Sentani and near the border with Papua New Guinea. In 2016 Sentani Airport acquired land to enable lengthening of the runway from 2,500 to 3,000 metres to accommodate larger Airbus planes.[6] Sentani Airport is owned by the Government of Indonesia and operated by the Ministry of Transportation. State-owned airport management firm PT Angkasa Pura I will take over management of the airport in 2018.[9]

Project area:121 hectares
Type of populationRural
Affected Population: four villages
Start of the conflict:1956
Company names or state enterprises:PT Angkasa Pura from Indonesia
Relevant government actors:Government of Indonesia
Ministry of Transportation
Papua Provincial Council
Papua Transportation Agency
Jayapura Regency
Jayapura Police
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stageMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups mobilizing:Indigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of mobilization:Blockades
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Potential: Global warming
Health ImpactsPotential: Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsHealth problems caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place
Potential: Loss of livelihood, Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights
Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Under negotiation
Verification of customary land rights
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:Payment of compensation for part of the land taken for the airport and recognition of customary land rights could be considered a partial and belated environmental justice victory for villagers impacted by the project.
Sources & Materials

[1] Papuans shut down airport, seek compensation, The Jakarta Post, 29 August 2009
[click to view]

[2] 4 Papuan Tribes Threaten to Shut Down Sentani Airport, TEMPO, 20 October 2013
[click to view]

[3] Islands in focus: Papuans block airport over land dispute, The Jakarta Post, 27 June 2015
[click to view]

[4] Blokade Bandara Sentani Dibuka, Aparat TNI/Polri Dihujani Anak Panah, SINDONEWS.COM, 30 December 2015
[click to view]

[5] Bandara Sentani di Blokade Warga,, 8 January 2016
[click to view]

[6] Sentani Airport agrees to pay Rp 156b for customary land, The Jakarta Post, 27 May 2016
[click to view]

[7] Dewan Adat Sentani tetapkan dokumen verifikasi tanah adat,, 18 June 2018
[click to view]

[8] Pembebasan Lahan Bandara Sentani Tak Kunjung Selesai, Pemilik Lapor Presiden, INDOPOS, 8 January 2018
[click to view]

[9] Jayapura Sentani Airport, Centre for Aviation (CAPA)
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Landholders blockade Sentani Airport runway, 30th December 2015
[click to view]

Meta information
Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3697
Legal notice / Aviso legal
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