In 2013 AMAN has handled 143 cases of violence against indigenous peoples.
Jakarta 27 January 2014 – Violent conflict in indigenous territories in the form of seizures of land, territory and natural resources, will continue to increase this year if the government is not serious in following up on the Constitutional Court Decision No.35/PUU-X/2012, which saw the Court historically rule that indigenous forests are no longer state forests.
The struggle for indigenous peoples rights was outlined in the Press Conference, ‘AMAN 2013, a year in review: historical milestones and futures steps’. Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of AMAN, Sandra Moniaga, Commissioner at the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM), Noer Fauzi Rachman, Executive Director of the Sajogyo Institute, Danang Widoyoko, Coordinator at Corruption Watch Indonesia and Achmad Sodiki, former judge of the Constitutional Court, were all speakers at the press conference.
During 2013, AMAN handled 143 cases of violent conflict against indigenous peoples. However it is estimated the number of conflicts is more likely to be 3 times that, as violent conflicts are often not reported or well documented. In fact, six months after the enactment of the Law on Prevention and Eradication of Forest Degradation (UU P3H) which was passed on 6 August 2013, three months after the Constitutional Court decision, 11 indigenous people were arrested and 378 family heads in South Kalimantan and Bengkulu were evicted using UU P3H. This year the number of conflicts is set to remain high, or even increase, because of the government’s continued inability to follow up on the Constitutional Court Decision No. 35.
Abdon Nababan said that the eight months since the announcement of the Constitutional Court decision in May 2013, has simply shown that the Minister for Forestry will not honour President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s commitment. ‘According to his promise, the President must intervene personally: he must issue a Presidential Instruction about indigenous territories and repealed all regulations and decisions by the Forestry Minister that hinder the implementation of the Constitutional Court decision,’ Abdon said. ‘There is still time for the President to show he is true leader who will be remembered for his services to indigenous peoples of the archipelago.’
According to Sandra Moniaga, Komnas HAM views the Constitutional Court decision as a national correction on a policy that is not based on the respect for human rights and that has been used as a legal basis for the government to consider the territories of indigenous communities as part of the state forest.
‘Komnas HAM argues that the Constitutional Court decision should be placed as an entry point for undertaking recovery/restitution of customary rights over indigenous territories, including indigenous forests,’ she said.
According to Noer Fauzi Rachman, the President must establish a special taskforce responsible for registering the claims of indigenous peoples over indigenous territories as well as directing and coordinating the Ministry of Forestry, the Geospatial Information agency, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Social Affairs and other related agencies.
‘The most important thing is to rectify the policies, rules and institutional practices that deny indigenous peoples as owners of indigenous territories as well as create ‘wilayah adat’ (indigenous territories) as a separate type of agrarian right, held by a separate legal subject called ‘masyarakat hukum adat (traditional-law society),’ he said.
For indigenous peoples and also Indonesia, the Constitutional Court decision is an historical milestone because it means recognition of the human rights of indigenous peoples over their territories. The Constitutional Court decision is in line with the Rio +20 declaration on environment and development, which recognises that indigenous customary law has a vital role to play in environmental management and development because of its traditional knowledge and practices. Therefore in 2014, this historical milestone must be reinforced to guarantee the human rights of indigenous peoples, including the enactment of the draft law on the recognition and protection of the rights of indigenous peoples.
Translator: Jacqueline Pham