The road ahead: making it happen for indigenous peoples

Indigenous representatives at KMAN IV (Photo:DTE)

DTE 91-92, May 2012

An overview of some of the outcomes of KMAN IV: AMAN’s people, plans and demands for the future.

Leader and Council

Abdon Nababan was re-elected as AMAN’s leader for the next five years. He promised to try to lead AMAN with intelligence, wisdom and humility.

The number of council members chosen by the alliance’s seven regions was slimmed down from 42 people to two per region, totalling 14 (one man and one woman per region). The council members include Aleta Baun new leader of Perempuan Adat, who is representative for Bali-Nusa Tenggara region. The host region of Maluku chose Hein Namotemo as their representative and he was also chosen as leader of the AMAN Council. Hein Namotemo is already the local district head (Bupati) under the government system and is expected to run for governor of North Maluku province in future. Other people who served on previous councils include Alex Sanggenafa (Papua), Ariana (Kalimantan), Jajang Kurniawan (Java) and Isjaya Kaladen (Sulawesi).

AMAN’s workplan for the next five years was outlined as follows under four headings:

  1. Socio-cultural: develop and document all customary culture using digital and non-digital methods so it can be sustained by future generations; and draw up a strategy to promote indigenous culture to the wider world.
  2. Economy: increase the economic potential of communities based on eco-regions and develop community economies based on adat cultural values.
  3. Organisational strengthening: by developing indigenous advocacy, information and communication systems, capacity-building for leaders, rights protection, business set-up, networks and knowledge sharing between indigenous peoples.
  4. Politics: organise political education for indigenous peoples, push for full recognition of customary justice. In the short term, continue advocacy efforts related to the parts of the Draft Village Law (RUU Desa) relevant to indigenous peoples. Also, continue to oversee RUU PPMA’s route through parliament, and further develop relations between indigenous peoples organisations and other CSOs.[1]

Declaration and Resolution

The Tobelo Declaration, issued on April 24th calls upon all indigenous peoples of the archipelago to:

  1. Restore and strengthen customary consultations as a mechanism for high-level decision-making and binding all community members together.
  2. Restore and strengthen mutual assistance (gotong royong) to achieve economic self-sufficiency among indigenous peoples.
  3. Safeguard and use indigenous languages and customary symbols in daily life.
  4. Implement adat law and observe the decisions of adat justice.
  5. Refrain from buying or selling indigenous lands.
  6. Maintain the integrity of customary territory from all forms of takeover and control by any external party.[2]

The Congress Resolution document reaffirms the rights of indigenous peoples from across the archipelago to organise and manage their own affairs, including practising their own religions and holding customary rituals in line with their cultural identity; to be free from fear of all forms of violence and repression; and to manage and benefit from the lands and natural resources which are an inseparable part of indigenous life and identity. It reaffirms their rights under the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and as recognised in Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution. The commitment of Indonesia’s parliament, as expressed by Speaker of the national parliament Marzuki Alie at the KMAN IV opening ceremony to pass the RUU PPMA in 2012, was welcomed, as were the efforts at the Constitutional Court to review all laws conflicting with the Constitution, starting with Forestry Law 41/1999.

The Resolution then acknowledges that indigenous peoples still face enormous challenges: development is still oriented towards the exploitation of natural resources, affecting the existence, identity and resilience of traditional community life. The majority of indigenous land and resources is still under state control and some indigenous communities continue to be forcibly evicted from their ancestral land. “Indigenous peoples are forced out and colonised by a system which wipes out their fundamental rights and causes poverty and food insecurity.” Regional autonomy and special autonomy policies have been implemented only in a half-hearted way. Therefore, AMAN urges the government to hasten the process of passing RUU PPMA into law, to return lands and territories and revoke leases over adat land given by the state without a fair negotiating process with indigenous communities and take immediate and concrete action to resolve conflicts over indigenous land and resources.[3]

KMAN IV recommendations

The Congress issued a total of 52 recommendations covering land, territories and resources; Free Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC); climate change, food crisis, energy and REDD+; the Social Affairs ministry; the Home Affairs ministry; political participation for indigenous peoples; state laws and policies; strengthening the creative economy based on culture; and internal issues. A selection of these is summarised below.

On land and resources, the recommendations called for formal recognition by the Indonesian government for indigenous territories and the establishment of an agency to register these territories, using the Ancestral Domain Registration Agency, set up by AMAN, as a reference. AMAN wants indigenous systems to be accommodated in the Draft Village Law now being debated by parliament; for a Presidential decree to recognise the role of indigenous peoples’ local knowledge in environmental protection and management as a means of implementing the 2009 environment Law 32./2009; and for a Presidential instruction to the national land agency (BPN) to withdraw problematic land and building permits in indigenous areas. The Congress also called for a moratorium on new mining concessions and withdrawal of mining licences from projects that don’t have the consent of the indigenous community.

The Congress recommended that all government policies and actions affecting indigenous communities must be done in accordance with FPIC principles, and that FPIC as a right for indigenous men and women must be recognised at all levels of government.

Drawing a distinction between food security and food sovereignty, the Congress said all productive indigenous land, agricultural and marine resources, and sources of water and organic food must be protected.

On energy, the government must identify and promote the use of renewable energy sources that can be accessed and managed by indigenous peoples, including geothermal, micro-hydro, solar, and gas from animal waste.

On climate change, AMAN wants indigenous peoples, as forest-dependent communities, to be involved and prioritised in climate change and REDD+ initiatives. “Forests are Indigenous Peoples’ identity. Forest loss means the loss of indigenous peoples’ identity.” All climate change adaptation and mitigation initiatives must be based on FPIC principles, and all REDD initiatives must guarantee the recognition and protection of indigenous rights, and give maximum benefit to indigenous communities. “We agree and reaffirm that without the guarantee of these rights, Indigenous Peoples reject all form of REDD implementation, as well as other climate change mitigation initiatives.”

The Congress also urged the World Bank, which is currently reviewing all its policies, to ensure that the UNDRIP, including FPIC, is recognised and implemented in World Bank policies, including in policies related to REDD+.

The recommendations call on the Social Affairs Ministry to stop resettlement programmes for indigenous communities as these cause conflict and destroy indigenous culture. AMAN wants the ministry’s programmes targeting “Remote Indigenous Communities” (KAD) to be carried out in accordance with community needs and in line with FPIC principles. Meanwhile, the Home Affairs Ministry should formally recognise indigenous religions and belief systems to prevent continued social and political discrimination.

On political participation, the recommendations include calls for a Ministry for Indigenous Peoples and a Gender Equality law which protects indigenous women, as well as funding through state budgets for indigenous peoples’ organisations. On legal issues: pass the RUU PPMA and withdraw law No 2, 2012 on Land and the development of Public Facilities.[4]

[1] KMAN Press Release 23/Apr/2012

[2] Tobelo Declaration, posted on KMAN IV website 24/Apr/12

[3] Tobelo Resolution, 25/Apr/2012, posted on KMAN IV website

[4] Tobelo Recommendations 25/Apr/2012, posted on KMAN IV website