• Indigenous peoples in Indonesia

    Indigenous peoples in Indonesia

    Indonesia is home to an estimated number of 50-70 million indigenous peoples. Indonesia has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Still, the government does not fully accept the concept of indigenous peoples.
    Indigenous peoples in Indonesia are increasingly experiencing criminalisation and violence, often related to investments in indigenous territories.
  • Peoples

    Indonesia is home to an estimated number of 50-70 million indigenous peoples.
  • Rights

    Indonesia has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but the government does not fully accept the concept of indigenous peoples
  • Challenges

    Indigenous peoples in Indonesia are increasingly experiencing criminalisation and violence, often related to investments in indigenous territories.

Indonesia

Indonesia is home to an estimated number of 50-70 million indigenous peoples. Indonesia has adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, but the government does not fully accept the concept of indigenous peoples. Indigenous peoples in Indonesia are increasingly experiencing criminalisation and violence, often related to investments in indigenous territories. 

Rights of indigenous peoples in Indonesia 

The third amendment to the Indonesian Constitution recognises indigenous peoples’ rights in Article 18b-2. In more recent legislation, there is implicit recognition of some rights of peoples referred to as "masyarakat adat" or "masyarakat hukum adat", including Act No. 5/1960 on Basic Agrarian Regulation, Act No. 39/1999 on Human Rights, and MPR Decree No X/2001 on Agrarian Reform.

Act No. 27/2007 on Management of Coastal and Small Islands and Act No. 32/2010 on Environment clearly use the term Masyarakat Adat and use the working definition of AMAN. The Constitutional Court affirmed the Constitutional Rights of Indigenous Peoples to their land and territories in May 2013, including their collective rights over customary forest.

While Indonesia is a signatory to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), government officials argue that the concept of indigenous peoples is not applicable as almost all Indonesians (with the exception of the ethnic Chinese) are indigenous and thus entitled to the same rights. Consequently, the government has rejected calls for specific needs from groups identifying themselves as indigenous. On 10 August 2015, the Ministry of Environment and Forestry agreed to be the trustee 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. The government recognises 1,128 ethnic groups.

The Ministry of Social Affairs identifies some indigenous communities as "komunitas adat terpencil" (geographically-isolated indigenous communities). However, many more peoples self-identify or are considered by others as indigenous.

Recent government Acts and Decrees use the term masyarakat adat to refer to indigenous peoples. The national indigenous peoples’ organisation, Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), estimates that the number of indigenous peoples in Indonesia lies between 50 and 70 million people.

Main challenges of Indonesia's indigenous peoples

Violence and criminalisation of indigenous peoples continue. Almost no meaningful efforts have been made to systematically stop the acts of violence against indigenous peoples. Moreover, the handling of cases of violence and criminalisation of indigenous peoples became more complicated in 2016, especially with the emergence of new types of conflict related to infrastructure and dams, and the more obvious military intervention in such violence and criminalisation. 

In previous years, cases of violence and criminalisation of indigenous peoples took place predominantly in the plantation sector, forest-related industry and mining but, in 2016, the cases were more varied. Some were related to dam construction, as was the case a few decades ago. 2016 was also marked by a return of military force, which became more active in safeguarding the smooth running of investments in indigenous territories. 

Spaces for conflict resolution scarcely improved the situation of indigenous peoples. Various complaints to state agencies failed to get a due response. Even the courts could do little to bring hope to indigenous peoples.

Mapping indigenous territories

As of the end of November 2016, the Indigenous Territory Registration Body (BRWA) had registered as many as 703 maps of indigenous territories covering a total area of 8.3 million hectares.

Despite many discussions, however, there has been no significant policy response from the ministries and agencies receiving the maps of indigenous territories. The Geospatial Information Agency (BIG), meanwhile, will produce the indigenous territories map as one of their thematic maps, as a component in support of Joko Widodo and Jusuf Kalla’s government agenda of achieving the One Map Policy pursuant to Presidential Decree No. 9 of 2015.

 

Indonesia: Indigenous peoples get back their rights over customary forests

Constitutional Court has accepted the Judicial Review of some parts of Act No. 41/1999 on Forestry (Undang-Undang Kehutanan or UUK) submitted by the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), Thursday (16/5). Although the Court didn’t agree on all requested reviews, AMAN warmly welcomes the decision announced in Plenary Hall of Constitutional Court. This ruling means that the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago are legal subjects and customary forests are not State forests. Hence Indigenous Peoples will get back their rights over their customary forests seized by the State through UUK.

Big victory for indigenous peoples in Indonesia

Yesterday (May 16), at 14-16pm, The Constitutional Court of Indonesia came out with a Decision on the Judicial Review on Forestry Law No.41/1999, filed by AMAN last year. The Constitutional Court has decided that "Customary Forest is forest in the ancestral domain/indigenous peoples territory". This is to replace the article in the Forestry Law, saying : "customary forest is STATE FOREST in indigenous territory" This means a lot for indigenous peoples and the goverment.

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Indonesian House works on indigenous peoples bill

"Violations of the rights of indigenous people continue to occur, although they played a key role in protecting the country during the colonial era, hundreds years ago," lawmaker Ignatius Mulyono, chairman of the House legislative committee, said in Jakarta yesterday (November 19). The committee has studied 15 laws or regulations applicable to indigenous people, including Article 18 of the 1945 Constitution and Law No. 5/1960 on agrarian issues.

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IWGIA - International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs - is a global human rights organisation dedicated to promoting, protecting and defending indigenous peoples’ rights. Read more.

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