“Monkey”, “pig”, “dog” – these words were shouted at a group of West Papuan students, who had been arrested and later released due to lack of evidence. They were accused of burning the Indonesian flag. This is the latest development in a more than 60-year struggle for the independence of West Papua. Massive protests are currently taking place in West Papua, and news of victims on both sides has reached the media. A local indigenous organisation condemns the racist remarks and general stigmatisation of indigenous peoples in West Papua.
Indonesia is the home of an estimated 50 to 70 million indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples in Indonesia increasingly suffer from criminalization and violence, often related to investments in indigenous territories.
The third amendment to the Indonesian Constitution recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples in Article 18b-2. In the most recent legislation, there is an implicit recognition of some rights of the peoples known as Masyarakat adat or Masyarakat hukum adat, which include Law No. 5/1960 on Basic Agrarian Regulation, Law No. 39/1999 on Human Rights and the Decree of MPR No X / 2001 on Agrarian Reform.
Law No. 27/2007 on the management of coastal and small islands and Law No. 32/2010 on the environment clearly use the term Masyarakat Adat and use the practical definition of AMAN. The Constitutional Court confirmed the constitutional rights of indigenous peoples over their lands and territories in May 2013, including their collective rights over traditional forests.
Although Indonesia is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), government officials argue that the concept of indigenous peoples is not applicable, since almost all Indonesians (with the exception of the Chinese) ) are indigenous and have the right to the same rights As a result, the government has rejected calls for the specific needs of groups that identify themselves as indigenous.
On August 10, 2015, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry agreed to be the administrator of 6.8 million hectares of indigenous maps for inclusion in the One Map initiative.
Indigenous peoples in Indonesia
Indonesia has a population of approximately 250 million people, and the government recognizes 1,128 ethnic groups. Recent laws and government decrees use the term Masyarakat adat to refer to indigenous peoples. The national organization of indigenous peoples, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), estimates that the number of indigenous peoples in Indonesia is between 50 and 70 million people.
The Ministry of Social Affairs identifies some indigenous communities as komunitas adat terpencil (geographically isolated indigenous communities). However, many more people identify themselves or are considered by others as indigenous.
Main challenges for indigenous peoples in Indonesia
Violence and criminalization of indigenous peoples continue. There has been no significant effort to systematically stop acts of violence against indigenous peoples. In addition, the management of cases of violence and criminalization of indigenous peoples became more complicated in 2016, especially with the appearance of new types of conflicts related to infrastructure and dams, and the most obvious military intervention in such violence and criminalization.
Since 1999, the Government plans to build a reservoir for irrigation in the district of Ngada, a territory of the Rendu Indians. After the Ngada district expanded to some new districts, the site for this reservoir development plan was included in the administration area of a new district, the Nagekeo district. Since the beginning of this plan, the indigenous peoples of Rendu and other communities directly affected by the project have carried out different studies to demonstrate their possible negative effects.
However, on November 8, 2016, the Police and Public Order Enforces oversaw the drilling tools imported by the local Nagekeo government. The community suffered a blockade. However, they could not hold it, and the drill was finally placed at the location of the survey. The drill was guarded by enforcers of public order and police officers. The next day, people were surprised by the news from the Head of the Unit of National Unity and Politics of the Nagekeo District, saying that the drill rig had been set on fire.
On September 6, 2017, President Joko Widodo signed Presidential Regulation No. 88 of 2017 on Land Tenure Settlements in Forest Areas. The Presidential Regulation states that the Government will carry out land tenure settlements in forest areas controlled and used by the community.
This presidential regulation leaves a series of questions, among others, about limiting the resolution of land conflicts in forest areas, while the resolution of land conflicts in areas will be carried out by relocating the community (resettlement) unless can demonstrate that they have inhabited the area well before its inauguration as a forest area.
The solidarity statement in favour of recognising the Cek Bocek community as an indigenous people made by the participants at Asia Peoples Pact’s IPHRD Exchange held November 2018 in Indonesia.
West Papua covers the western part of the island of New Guinea and comprises the two Indonesian provinces of Papua and West Papua (Papua Barat).
According to AIPP the government of Indonesia has said it will revoke business permits it has given to companies operating in customary forests after the Constitutional Court annulled its ownership of customary forests.