Second AMAN Congress demands recognition of indigenous rights in Indonesia

Down to Earth No 59  November 2003

The Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) held its second congress in Lombok in September. The five-day Congress was attended by around 500 indigenous delegates from across Indonesia and West Papua plus several hundred members of local indigenous groups and supporting NGOs, academics and representatives of government agencies. The themes discussed included recognition of land and resource rights, respect for indigenous beliefs and practices and adat self-governance. Congress participants also elected new regional co-ordinators, a new AMAN Board and a new Executive Secretary. The Congress's Resolution is translated below.


Resolution, Second Congress of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago

We, all participants of the Second Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago which took place 19-25 September in the village of Tanjung, North Lombok, are aware that in the more than four years since the Alliance of the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) was founded, there have been changes in various State policies related to the situation of indigenous peoples and their fundamental rights.

We recall the strengthening of the State's acknowledgement of indigenous peoples' rights in various legal instruments, including the Second Amendment of the 1945 Constitution, and several MPR decrees as national political agreements as well as in various laws such as Law No.22/1999 on Regional Governance Law No.39/1999 on Basic Human Rights and Law No.21/2001 on Special Autonomy in Papua.

We are also aware that there is a new hope in new legislation on General Elections for broadening the political participation of indigenous peoples in the future, and support from the Law on the National Education System which opens wider access for indigenous peoples to obtain educational services from the State.

Without reducing our gratitude for and appreciation of these various changes, Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago are still facing various forms of compulsion, subjugation and exploitation. State control of the majority of land and natural resources in indigenous areas continues. Various indigenous groups have still been forcibly evicted from their ancestral lands for various development projects. The government still continues to give investors new concessions (Hak Guna Usaha) and Mining Permits (KP) in indigenous areas, without giving notice or holding proper negotiations as required under the adat law of local indigenous communities.

We highlight the existence of forest concession (HPH) holders who are still free to run logging operations in adat forest areas without any legal action against them by the government.

We also note the failure of Regional Autonomy to restore the original autonomy of villages in accordance with local adat. Regional Autonomy only extends as far as the District/Mayorality level and serves the political and economic interests of regional elites. The existence of institutions in the Indonesian Armed Forces' territorial control system such as the BABINSA [military officials attached to village administrations] and KORAMIL [subdistrict level military command], which have been a source of intimidation and violence towards indigenous peoples, continues in indigenous areas. Moreover, recently, the Police Force, especially BRIMOB [the police mobile brigade] have become a new source of violence against indigenous peoples in various parts of the Archipelago. The violation of basic human rights and fundamental rights of indigenous peoples by various forces and factions in power is still going on throughout the Archipelago.

We have a long way to go to realise our goal of restoring sovereignty to the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago to decide their own destiny as has been handed down through the generations as ancestral and traditional rights.

We, the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, inherit the right to regulate and manage our lives and organise customary ceremonies according to our cultural identity, noble values and indigenous knowledge which is contained within our respective customary systems.

We, the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, inherit the right to safeguard peace, law and order and the balance of co-existence between indigenous peoples and between indigenous peoples and the natural world, as well as between indigenous peoples and other peoples, according to our respective legal systems and customary institutions.

We, the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, inherit the right to direct, manage and benefit from the land and all the other natural wealth in indigenous areas, in accordance with our respective traditional knowledge systems.

To uphold these basic rights, we the Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, who share the same destiny and the same trials and tribulations, have agreed to reconfirm the decisions of the First Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago in Jakarta, in 1999, to continue to struggle together in one organisation, the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN).

With reference to this position, we as members of AMAN, declare the following. We:

  1. Urge the Government and DPR RI [national parliament] immediately to implement MPR Decree IX/2001 on Agrarian Renewal and Natural Resources Management to review and cancel all sectoral laws that do not recognise or respect indigenous peoples' rights, including Law No.41/1999 on Forestry and Law No.11/1967 on Mining and replace them with a new law on Natural Resource Management which is holistic, cross-sectoral and protects the rights of indigenous peoples.
  2. Demand that the Government cancels all Mining Permits, logging and plantation concessions (HPH, HGU, HPHTI, IHPHH, IPK) and other licences to exploit natural resources which were handed out by the government in indigenous areas without the agreement of local indigenous peoples.
  3. Urge the Government and DPR RI immediately to draft a special law to recognise and protect indigenous peoples' rights as has been mandated in Article 18B paragraph (2) of the Second Amendment of the 1945 Constitution.
  4. Urge the Government and DPR RI immediately to carry out revisions to Law No. 22, 1999 on Regional Governance so that it accords with the aspirations of indigenous peoples and immediately to apply indigenous village autonomy in a complete and thorough way, in accordance with the existing customary systems of the respective indigenous communities.
  5. Urge the Government and DPR RI to ratify International Labour Organisation (ILO) Convention No.169 concerning Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Countries.
  6. Urge the Government to prevent all forms of violence in the Archipelago.
  7. Urge the Government to eliminate permanent military institutions in indigenous areas and restore the authority of customary institutions to safeguard law and order, peaceful co-existence and the security of indigenous communities according to locally valid customary laws and justice systems.
  8. Urge the Government of the Republic of Indonesia immediately to issue a Government Regulation on the establishment of the Papuan People's Assembly (MRP) by properly implementing Law No. 21/2001 on Special Autonomy in West Papua and holding a national dialogue which involves indigenous peoples in Papua.
  9. Urge the Government and DPR RI to investigate and review the national legal and justice systems so that they guarantee the existence of the diverse customary laws and justice systems of the Archipelago.
  10. Urge the Government immediately to include local content on indigenous customary life, language, local wisdom and customary law in the school education curriculum, with the full involvement of indigenous peoples, both in the designing of the curriculum and in teaching it.
  11. Urge the Government immediately to prepare educational materials which are suited to remote areas, to allocate teaching staff fairly and to increase the funds for education in the national and regional budgets.
  12. Demand that the Government guarantees the involvement of indigenous peoples in all policy-making and policy-implementation processes and programmes which affect the lives of indigenous peoples.

Along with the points above, we call on all indigenous peoples, especially those which have joined forces in AMAN to carry out the following:

  1. Completely eliminate the uniform village governance system (as imposed under Law No.5/1979) and replace it with diverse customary systems based on local traditional ones.
  2. Prevent all forms of destruction of nature, legal or illegal, in our respective indigenous areas which have clearly threatened the lives of indigenous peoples, and carry out rehabilitation of degraded forest lands, by involving local indigenous communities.
  3. Safeguard law and order and security in our respective indigenous areas and resolve social conflicts, both between indigenous groups as well as with other communities.
  4. Strengthen the institutional organisation of AMAN at the community, association and regional levels.
  5. Use the right to vote conscientiously and ensure that AMAN stays unaffiliated to any political party in the 2004 elections.
  6. Consolidate ourselves in our own areas in order to strengthen indigenous peoples' political participation in accordance with the future directions and guidance by AMAN's Board.
  7. Consolidate ourselves in our own areas in order to restore the functions of customary law and justice.

(Translated by DTE from the Indonesian: Resolusi Kongres Masyarakat Adat Nusantara)


International Advocacy Workshop

Workshops on a variety of topics relevant to indigenous peoples in Indonesia were held during the two days before the full Congress began. The workshop on International Advocacy and Indigenous Peoples, co-sponsored by DTE and INFID, attracted over 100 participants.

Some of these had considerable experience of advocacy at international level, representing communities whose adat lands have been given away by central government to mining and plantation companies backed by foreign investors – for example Rio Tinto, Newmont and CDC. Others had presented testimonies at international gatherings including the UN's Working Group on Indigenous Populations in Geneva; the WSSD in Johannesburg last year and the Preparatory Conference in Bali; meetings of the World Bank's Extractive Industries Review; and the World Parks Congress.

The main purpose of the 3 hour workshop was to explore the opportunities and limitations of indigenous advocacy at the international level. It got off to a lively start with a role play about the relationships between indigenous communities, companies, foreign investors, government and national and international NGOs. The facilitators, Donatus K Marut and Toto Rahardjo of the Yogya-based policy analysis group INSIST, then explained about the interplay between global and national politics and economics and their impacts on indigenous peoples. They also drew attention to ways in which United Nations bodies and international conventions were relevant to the indigenous movement in Indonesia.

Among those who contributed to the discussion, was Ruth Sidchogan-Batani of the Tebtebba Foundation, Philippines – the only Congress participant representing the indigenous movement overseas. Ms Sidchogan-Batani was very positive about the progress which AMAN as an national indigenous organisation had made during its first 4 years against a challenging economic and political background. She encouraged indigenous people to draw strength and learn lessons from the experiences of the indigenous movement in the Philippines both nationally and internationally. She also explained the importance of understanding what international instruments exist and how these can be used as levers to change national and local legislation to acknowledge indigenous rights. Her comments and advice – although delivered by an interpreter - were well received!

The workshop divided into smaller discussion groups where participants explored these themes further and drew up recommendations for the Congress. One of these was that international advocacy should be a major focus of AMAN's activities during the next three year period.