Indigenous Peoples

Down to Earth Special Issue, October 1999

This Special Issue of Down to Earth reports on the first ever Congress of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago, held in Jakarta in March 1999, and the progress of a new alliance of Indigenous Peoples -AMAN- established at that event. It draws largely on Congress materials and statements from AMAN.

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

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

This position statement was drawn up by Congress delegates at the end of a week of discussions about issues facing indigenous peoples.

Long before Indonesia became a republic, a panoply of indigenous communities was distributed across the archipelago.

Down to Earth Special Issue, October 1999

Logistically and tactically, the Indigenous Peoples' Congress was a tremendous achievement. It generated hope, confidence, new insights and useful connections amongst indigenous peoples facing similar problems right across the archipelago at a time when there are real possibilities for more democracy and equity in Indonesian society. Politically and organisationally, these are early days for Indonesia's indigenous movement.

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.

Down to Earth Special Issue, October 1999

The 1999 Congress was the result of a three year period of planning and organising involving indigenous peoples' groups and local and national NGOs which had supported indigenous communities' fight for their rights over a number of years.

By the mid-1990s there were an increasing number of opportunities for indigenous peoples to express their own views at