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
NameSentani Airport, Papua, Indonesia
ProvincePapua Province
Accuracy of LocationHIGH local level
Source of Conflict
Type of Conflict (1st level)Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of Conflict (2nd level)Land acquisition conflicts
Ports and airport projects
Specific CommoditiesLand
Project Details and Actors
Project DetailsSentani 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 (in hectares)121 hectares
Type of PopulationRural
Potential Affected Population four villages
Start Date1956
Company Names or State EnterprisesPT Angkasa Pura from Indonesia
Relevant government actorsGovernment of Indonesia

Ministry of Transportation

Papua Provincial Council

Papua Transportation Agency

Jayapura Regency

Jayapura Police
The Conflict and the Mobilization
Intensity of Conflict (at highest level)HIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
When did the mobilization beginMobilization for reparations once impacts have been felt
Groups MobilizingIndigenous groups or traditional communities
Forms of MobilizationBlockades
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
OtherHealth problems caused by pollutants emitted by aircraft
Socio-economic 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
Pathways for conflict outcome / responseCompensation
Under negotiation
Verification of customary land rights
Do you consider this as a success?Not Sure
Why? Explain briefly.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 and Materials

[1] Papuans shut down airport, seek compensation, The Jakarta Post, 29 August 2009
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[2] 4 Papuan Tribes Threaten to Shut Down Sentani Airport, TEMPO, 20 October 2013
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[3] Islands in focus: Papuans block airport over land dispute, The Jakarta Post, 27 June 2015
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[4] Blokade Bandara Sentani Dibuka, Aparat TNI/Polri Dihujani Anak Panah, SINDONEWS.COM, 30 December 2015
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[5] Bandara Sentani di Blokade Warga,, 8 January 2016
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[6] Sentani Airport agrees to pay Rp 156b for customary land, The Jakarta Post, 27 May 2016
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[7] Dewan Adat Sentani tetapkan dokumen verifikasi tanah adat,, 18 June 2018
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[8] Pembebasan Lahan Bandara Sentani Tak Kunjung Selesai, Pemilik Lapor Presiden, INDOPOS, 8 January 2018
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[9] Jayapura Sentani Airport, Centre for Aviation (CAPA)
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Media Links

Landholders blockade Sentani Airport runway, 30th December 2015
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Other Documents

Sentani Airport runway blockade 30th December 2015 - residents demanding recognition of customary land rights blockaded the runway. Source: ANTARANEWS
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Sentani Airport blockade 6th January 2016 Landholders demanding compensation blockade the runway. Source:
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Sentani Airport taxiway blockade, May 2016 Members of four tribes blocked a taxiway with banana trees. Source: Edy Siswanto/Okezone
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Meta Information
ContributorRose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: [email protected]
Last update30/08/2018