In Brief... DTE 59 - November 2003

Down to Earth No 59  November 2003

Further blow to draft NRM bill

A coalition of civil society groups protested over Nabiel Makarim's controversial remarks in September, which were dismissive about the existing draft for a new natural resources management (NRM) bill. The Minister of Environment had proposed that the whole draft bill, should be rewritten because it gave too much authority to indigenous communities.

Makarim said some local people had shown they were not able to manage natural resources sustainably.

The remark sparked anger among civil society groups as it undermined the public consultation process which the drafting of the bill and the struggle of indigenous communities for recognition and participation in any legal process affecting their livelihood. NGOs and academics had been involved in drafting and discussing the bill for over 18 months with environment ministry staff.

Furthermore, Makarim was seen as advancing the interest of investors over the public interest when he suggested later that week that the water resource bill should be progress to the national parliament for deliberation, without having to wait for the completion of natural resources management bill.

Makarim's statements show that the sectoral approach prevails among bureaucrats, in contrast to the 'holistic' approach of the draft NRM bill, remains prevalent among bureaucrats (for more on the NRM bill see DTE 57).

Environmental and anti-debt groups claim there is a link between Makarim's comment and the disbursement of a US$300 million World Bank loan under the Water Resources Sector Adjustment Loan (WATSAL) (see DTE IFIs Factsheet 28 for further info on WATSAL).

(Sources: Media Indonesia, 29 Sep; Jakarta Post, 7 Oct; Press Statement of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance (AMAN), the Coalition for Peasants' Rights, the People's Coalition for Rights over Water, and the Civil Society Coalition for Participatory Policy, 6 Oct)


Bulukumba protest

In response to an appeal from the Indonesian NGO ELSAM, DTE has joined other organisations in writing to President Megawati about the killing by police of three farmers in Bulukumba, South Sulawesi in July this year - see DTE 58.

DTE's letter said:

"We deplore the violence used by the police against farmers who were protesting against the occupation of their land by PT Lonsum. Three local people have been shot dead by the police and several seriously wounded. Five homes have been burnt. 36 farmers have been detained in prison; five of them have given prison sentences of several months. We also deplore the way that the Mobile police Brigade (Brimob) is apparently only used to protect the interests of companies like PT Lonsum rather than protecting the interests of local communities.

"We are also very concerned that in October 2003, the South Sulawesi Police Chief called a local NGO activist in for questioning on the grounds that she has insulted the Indonesian police force. As Executive Director of WALHI South Sulawesi, Indah Fatinaware, signed a statement protesting about the shootings and arrests of Bulukumba farmers. If reform in Indonesia is to have any meaning, the Indonesian criminal code should not be used to threaten or criminalise people who criticise the police force for excessive violence. Indonesia's police force should be prepared to accept such criticism and to use it to improve the way that it operates.

"Rather than criminalise poor farmers who are trying to protect their livelihoods or NGO activists who defend human rights as laid down in Indonesian law No 39/1999, we respectfully ask you, as the Indonesian President to:

  • Protect the human rights of all Indonesian citizens, including peasant farmers and human rights defenders;
  • Ensure that the Indonesian Police Force, at all levels, does not abuse its power as the country's law enforcement agency;
  • Instruct the South Sulawesi police force to stop any further acts of intimidation or aggression against those involved in the Bulukumba case;
  • Instruct the governor of South Sulawesi and the South Sulawesi assembly (DPRD) to take appropriate action to resolve the dispute between the Bulukumba farmers and PT LonSum;
  • Order an investigation of the Bulukumba case by the National Commission for Human Rights;
  • Review Indonesia's Agrarian Law No 5/1960 in line with TAP MPR IX/2001 in order that local communities' rights to the sustainable, equitable use of land and natural resources are protected.