Jakarta, Ekuatorial — Indigenous people’s alliance in Indonesia calls for national reconciliation between the government and indigenous peoples after long abandonment by the state, said Abdon Nababan, secretary general of Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), in Jakarta, on Tuesday (10/3).
“[The government] needs to start national reconciliation immediately. If not, I am afraid that Indonesia will not survive. Why? Because, they have been neglected [by the state] for too long and it can be used as ‘ammunition’ for separatist movements across the country,” said Nababan adding the call will be the main theme for AMAN’s National Meeting in Sorong, Papua, March 15-19.
Furthermore, he said that indigenous peoples have been suffering from discrimination, criminalization, and no public access because no legal acknowledgment from the state.
He cited 75 percent of customary forests had been given permits for extractive industries ruling out their access to the forest. Most of those permits, he said, were obtained through not proper procedures.
“Customary law territories are not included in the country’s maps. Though mandated by the law, there’s still no administration process [to register] their territories,” he said. “As a result, indigenous peoples are considered does not exist when those permits were issued.”
In addition, indigenous peoples are also prone to being criminalized.
“They try to report on illegal logging but ended up behind bars or worst, got killed for defending their homes,” he said adding that most of indigenous peoples were unable to obtain legal documents, such as KTP [official identification card] because they did not acknowledge official religions of Indonesia.
He went on criticizing the government recognized indigenous peoples just to get more funding from the state budget.
“There are lots [of money] in the name of indigenous peoples from 14 ministries at the state budget, such as customary village program at ministry of tourism or indigenous peoples’ housing and development from ministry of social affairs,” he said. “However, when conflicts occurred in those customary villages, these ministries do not want to take responsibility.”
Jaleswari Pramodhawardhani, special staff of cabinet secretary office, said that the current government took indigenous people issues seriously as it will affecting the country’s development.
One of the development priorities, she said, was infrastructure which would need massive land acquisition from Aceh to Papua provinces.
“If it [indigenous people] does not become president’s focus then it will turn into massive conflicts,” she said.
Besides national reconciliation, Nababan added that Sorong’s National Meeting will also review its cooperation with ministries, including ministry of environment and forestry and national land agency. Also, to evaluate on government’s commitment in pushing forward recognition and acknowledgement of indigenous people which had been promised by then presidential candidate, Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo. Fidelis E. Satriastanti.