Indigenous Peoples

Down to Earth No. 48, February 2001


The recent increase in tension in West Papua, punctuated by the murder of political prisoners and the arrest of independence leaders, has not stopped the transnational companies continuing with plans to exploit the territory's natural resources.

The giant Tangguh gas fields in off the north western coast, contain an estimated 20 trillion cubic feet of gas. The British American merger BP/Amoco (BP) plans to start production in 2005 and is seeking sales contracts in China.

Down to Earth No. 48 February 2001


For the Muluy Dayak community in East Kalimantan, small-scale gold mining is part of their traditional way of life. adat (customary law) governs their gold-panning activities, practised using simple equipment made from materials collected in the surrounding forests. But this integral part of Muluy livelihood is now under threat. Mining company surveyors have recently shown interest in the community's gold mining area.

Down to Earth No. 47, November 2000


The past months have seen unprecedented direct action by local people and mine workers protesting against injustice at Rio Tinto's PT KEM and Kaltim Prima mines.

In April and May this year, Rio Tinto's Kelian gold mine was forced to shut down after negotiations with local community representatives were broken off. Hundreds of Dayak villagers blockaded access to the mine, preventing supplies of lime (used to treat acid waste) and diesel fuel oil getting through to the mine site on the Kelian river.

Down to Earth No. 47, November 2000


There has been further conflict at indigenous mining lands inside the PT Indo Muro Kencana gold concession operated by Australia's Aurora Gold in Central Kalimantan.

Families from the local Dayak Siang, Murung and Bekumpai communities were hauled out of their beds and forced onto trucks by heavily armed mobile brigade police forces early on June 7th. Their possessions were thrown on the ground, their homes were then torn down and fifteen people were arrested.

Down to Earth No. 46, August 2000

In the run-up to the January 2001 starting date for decentralisation, there are already many signs that regional autonomy will be used for very different purposes. Local governments are using decentralisation to impose taxes on businesses operating in their areas. NGOs and community groups are making demands that conflict directly with the limits set on autonomy in the laws.

Down to Earth No. 45, May 2000

Indigenous communities whose forests have been plundered by logging companies are demanding compensation for the damage. Deprived of the protection they enjoyed under former President Suharto, the companies are having to take them seriously.

Down to Earth No. 45, May 2000

Heavily armed police arrested eleven villagers on March 14th at Aurora Gold's Serjuan mine site in Central Kalimantan. According to an Indonesian NGO report, the villagers - including three children aged between 10 and 12 years - were taken at gun-point into company vehicles and driven to the company's camp. Nine of them, including the children, were then transferred to the North Barito police headquarters at Muara Teweh.