Human rights

Down to Earth No. 43, November 1999

East Timor has gained its freedom at a terrible cost. Now a traumatised population must start to rebuild their country. Substantial amounts of overseas aid may be needed, but East Timor's government-in-waiting should keep a cautious distance from some of those who are eager to offer funds.

Down to Earth No 43, November 1999

After many years of peaceful process and unsuccessful negotiations, Dayaks communities in Central Kalimantan have moved back on to their traditional mining sites. This direct action was taken as a last resort to defend rights consistently denied by the Indonesian government and by the mining company which took over their lands.

Down to Earth No 43, November 1999

AMAN, the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, was created as a result of the Indigenous Congress held in Jakarta in March. Since then, this first national indigenous peoples' organisation has begun to make its presence felt in a number of ways.

Regional meetings of AMAN have been held in several places between July and September.

Down to Earth Special Issue, October 1999

Through the Congress and subsequent events, indigenous peoples have presented their demands to government officials, political parties and the National Human Rights Commission. They have done this directly and through demonstrations, press statements and delegations. Such action was impossible in the Suharto years when open discussion of land rights was branded communist or subversive.

Down to Earth Special Issue, October 1999

The Indigenous Peoples' Congress was held only a few weeks after one hundred West Papuan representatives came to Jakarta as part of a long-awaited 'National Dialogue' to discuss the future of their homeland. President Habibie offered nothing. So it was not surprising that the Congress' Papuan contingent was in no mood for compromise. They were united in their message: 'Merdeka' - independence.

Down to Earth Special Issue, October 1999

Although only 20 of the 208 Congress delegates were women, this small contingent made a much greater impact than these numbers suggest. Women from Kalimantan, Sumba, Timor, Sulawesi, North Sumatra and and West Papua who had never met before banded together and challenged other participants to recognise their place in indigenous societies and their values, problems and solutions.

Down to Earth Special Issue, October 1999

At the Congress, delegates drew up work plans for AMAN based on priorities identified in earlier discussions. Their draft programme was presented in a plenary session and the following plan of action agreed. As five sub-groups had worked independently there is some overlap between sections.