Human rights

Down to Earth No 51 November 2001


The new president, Megawati Soekarnoputri, and her ministers face many tough challenges in coming months.

As the newly elected Megawati Soekarnoputri - Indonesia's first woman president - chose her new cabinet, there was intense speculation as to what kind of government she would form. The resulting "Gotong Royong" 32-member cabinet was hailed by the mainstream media as a good combination of professionals and experienced politicians.

Down to Earth No 51 November 2001


WALHI, Indonesia's leading environmental organisation, has scored a landmark victory in its court case against copper and gold miners PT Freeport Indonesia, operators of the huge Grasberg mine in West Papua. Meanwhile, militarisation is being intensified at the mine, as the Indonesian security forces pledge to protect it from alleged threats from "separatist groups".

On August 28th the South Jakarta District Court declared Freeport guilty of violating Indonesian environmental law (No. 23, 1997).

Down to Earth No 51 November 2001

Stop Exxon Mobil! Free Kautsar!

The Aceh Community Democratic Resistance Front (FPDRA) is circulating a petition to free an Acehnese activist detained for speaking out against the US-based oil and gas multinational, Exxon Mobil. The petition also calls for a halt to Exxon's operations in Aceh.

Kautsar was arrested on July 11th by the local Aceh police force when he was on his way to a demonstration organised by a coalition of 13 organizations known as KARA (Aceh Community Action Coalition).

Released for publication on September 20, 2001

* Refuting the unsustainable claims of the mining industry
* Opposing current models of "engagement"
* Demanding full recognition of community rights

We - twenty four representatives of communities and groups affected by mining from Asia-Pacific, Africa, India, South and North America - met in London from May 18-23rd 2001, to compare the impacts of mining on the lives of communities and ecosystems and to share strategies on how to confront the industry.

Down to Earth No 50 August 2001


Protected areas such as Siberut are increasingly vulnerable to exploitation - legal and illegal - due to Indonesia's prolonged economic crisis, coupled with regional autonomy and the devolution of revenue gathering.

The island of Siberut has been designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1981 due to its rich forests, unique wildlife and the traditional lifestyle and beliefs of the indigenous people.

Down to Earth No. 50, August 2001


Communities in Kalimantan are trying to secure fair compensation for lands and resources from two oil palm plantation companies funded by CDC, the British private investment agency. Although some moves towards negotiations have been made, CDC still fails to acknowledge that the projects' policies on land acquisition and community relations have led to social conflict, deforestation and, for some communities, increased poverty.

Down to Earth No 50 August 2001

Violations of community rights are still continuing as companies and regional governments try to maximise income from the country's mineral resources. At the same time, mining companies are complaining about the "legal vacuum" hampering their operations in Indonesia.

Large-scale mining in Indonesia is in 'legal limbo', as the protesting companies see it, because their contracts, signed during the Suharto era, are being nibbled away by the demands of local governments newly empowered by regional autonomy.