PT Sinergi Perkebunan Nusantara (PT SPN), earlier PT Perkebunan Nusantara XIV (PT PNXIV), has been granted nine Hak Guna Usaha (HGU) land use permits (long term commercial leases) in the district Mori Atas which together add up to 18,584 ha. One of those was obtained in 2009 and occupies an area of 1,895 ha, out of which 800-1150 ha (the number of hectares differ depending on sources, see (1) (2) (3). This area includes rice fields, farmland, grazing land, water sources and sacred sites (4).
According to established criteria, communities affected by an HGU permit and subsequent company activities should be informed prior to its implementation. However, PT SPN obtained its HGU permit from the National Land Agency (BPN) without providing the Village Government and the villagers with socialisation or information about the inclusion of their territory in the concession area. Allegedly, the villagers were unaware until the company entered the village with artillery and commenced evictions in 2014 (1) (4) . Since the permit has been issued, signed and published by BPN, the company and the North Morowali District government claim it to have been granted legitimately. The Lee Village Government as well as the villagers have filed complaints to the District Government, refusing to accept the evictions, company activities as well as the granting of the permit itself, with regards to the lack of prior consent-seeking and socialisation. Repeatedly, villagers have visited the BPN office and those of other related agencies (4). A letter of protest was sent to BPN in December of 2014, pledging the removal of Village Lee from the PT SPN HGU (4). Citizens of the village have mobilized against the company and its plantations. In January 2015, around 30 villagers led by the village head managed to stop part of the machinery moving in the territory. After the action, an agreement was reached, and the activity was stopped temporarily, but later resumed (5). In September 2015 meetings were held including the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), local governments, BPN, village heads and farmers, among others. Several requests were made on part of Lee Village: 1) The end of company activities on Lee territory over which villagers have certificate, 2) The formation of a joint team consisting of North Morowali District Government, Heads of Mori Atas and Lee as well as the Morowali police investigator to inspect certificates and measure the farmer's land, 3) A letter sent by the Regent of North Morowali to the BPN requesting a review of the granted HGU (3). Whether these demands on part of the villagers will be met or not is yet to be seen, and the current status of the conflict is unknown.