AMAN's aims and organisation

Down to Earth Special Issue, October 1999

The Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) was created on March 21st, 1999 as a result of the Indigenous People's Congress. The formation of AMAN is a significant step forward in indigenous peoples' struggle for the recognition of their rights in Indonesia. The term 'archipelago' rather than 'Indonesia' in AMAN's title reflects indigenous peoples' desire for greater autonomy and self-determination, particularly – but by no means exclusively - in West Papua and Aceh.

AMAN's members are all indigenous peoples: defined as communities which have ancestral lands in certain geographic locations and their own value systems, ideologies, economies, politics, cultures and societies in their respective homelands. Every AMAN member has the right to choose or to become a representative on the Board of the National Alliance.


AMAN's mission statement

In whatever we do, AMAN will work in a way which is true to the fundamental values of our outlook. We will not do anything which will undermine the basis of indigenous peoples' lives, unity or values which promote democracy and human rights.

AMAN statutes SK No.1/1999


This Board plays a central role in the Aliance. It is the main decision-making body and is answerable to all AMAN members through regional meetings and the national congress. It is made up of 54 representatives – a man and a woman from each province of Indonesia. The exception is West Papua which has four representatives in view of its size. East Timor is not included. Three people – representing the western, central and eastern regions of the archipelago – were chosen by Congress delegates to head the Board and act as a management committee. M Basrin (from West Kalimantan) is the current chair, with M Nasir Datuk (West Sumatra) and Den Upa-Rombelayuk (South Sulawesi) as his deputies. The full Board will meet at least once a year with more frequent meetings between its three leaders.

In addition, there is an executive secretary, assisted by a small secretariat, who is responsible for carrying out the Board's decisions on an everyday basis. The 1999 Congress decided that, at least for the initial period, this secretariat should be based in Jakarta in order to be close to the Indonesian parliament, government departments and other important policy and decision-makers. The first appointee, H. Arifin, from the Baduy community in West Java, resigned from his position as AMAN's executive secretary in August. So the Board has appointed an NGO activist, Abdon Nababan from Telapak, to this post as an interim measure. The eventual aim is that each province will have an AMAN secretariat in order to foster strong local organisations. On the fourth day of the Congress, delegates divided into four 'commissions' to work on the mission statement, organisational structure, external relations and work plans of the newly formed Alliance.

AMAN's outlook

We regard nature and ourselves holistically. This understanding encompasses conservation and usages which do not have negative impacts now or in the future.

AMAN statutes SK No.1/1999


Through AMAN, indigenous peoples will come together for discussions at provincial level every year. Some such meetings have already taken place (see DTE 43). Regional meetings will be held every two years and these will feed into the National Congress to be held every three years although, under exceptional conditions, this timetable can be changed.

The organisation will be funded through a combination of membership fees and donations from other parties, but AMAN will only accept funding from sources which are completely free from any political or commercial strings.

Congress declaration

We hereby declare March 17th as a day of awakening for the indigenous peoples of the archipelago and declare that:

  1. Our customary laws and belief systems (adat) are supreme and form the very basis of indigenous peoples' lives.
  2. The Adat systems of the archipelego are complex and diverse; there is no place for uniform state policies.
  3. Long before the Indonesian nation was created, indigenous peoples developed their own social systems based on their own needs and understandings. Hence the state must respect our sovereignty.
  4. Indigenous peoples are human beings just as other peoples are. We therefore also have the right to a decent life in accordance with our own social values. Hence all activities of the state which violate universal human rights and our own standards of justice must be stopped immediately.
  5. From our common experiences of hardship and suffering, indigenous peoples of the archipelago must stand shoulder to shoulder if we are to realise a better future and the recognition of our rights.

Deklarasi AMAN SK No.2/1999

"Forest peoples are skilled hunters. We know where to find our prey, how the animals live and which arrows to use for a deer, a monkey or a bird. Advocacy is just the same. We must learn the habits of our quarry – be it local officials, government ministers or an international company. We must study their particular habits and weaknesses. And we must choose the right weapons for the right target."

Edtami Masayagan, National Confederation of Indigenous Peoples of the Philippines.


AMAN's Address

AMAN (Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara) are currently looking for a base in Jakarta. Meanwhile they can be contacted through either:

M. Basrin (Head of AMAN's Co-ordinating Team),
Jl. Budi Utomo,
Komplek Bumi Khatulistiwa
Blok A. No. 5
Pontianak 781241
Kalimantan Barat, Indonesia
Tel/fax: 84641


Abdon Nababan (Acting Executive Secretary)
Jl Sempur Kaler No.16
Bogor 16154
West Java
tel: +62 251 382805
fax:+62 251 351069