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Jakarta Post

Jokowi reminded of promise to indigenous communities

  • Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, November 11, 2015   /  09:58 pm
Jokowi reminded of promise to indigenous communities (The Jakarta Post)

(The Jakarta Post)

The Alliance of Indigenous People (AMAN) has reminded President Joko '€œJokowi'€ Widodo of the importance of his promise to establish a Presidential task force to protect the rights of indigenous communities.

AMAN secretary-general Abdon Nababan said on Wednesday that Jokowi had promised to establish the task force in August, but after three months, AMAN was yet to see any action taken by the President.

'€œI'€™ve asked the President but he said he was preoccupied with the haze. Now that the rain has slowed the forest fires, he should fulfill his promise,'€ Abdon told thejakartapost.com after a press conference.

AMAN represents a network of around 2,253 indigenous groups across Indonesia who mostly live in or around forests.

Abdon said the task force would be of great importance as indigenous people throughout the country were now in need of concrete actions from the government to strengthen their legal protections, particularly their rights to customary lands.

Abdon said the taskforce would be in line with Nawa Cita, the Jokowi administration'€™s nine development goals, but he understood that the President faced many obstacles in achieving the goals.

Indonesian forests, Abdon said, had become political tools both for government and corporations '€“ a phenomena that had been ongoing since the late 1960s when production forest concessions were made to support corporations.

The situation was worsened by the Basic Forestry Law No. 5/1967, which considered all forests in Indonesia as state forests. The law revoked the Basic Agrarian Law No. 5/1960 that recognized indigenous people'€™s rights to their land.

Recently, in 2013, the Constitutional Court ruled that the legal definition of customary land should be amended from '€œstate forest in the traditional community'€™s area'€ to '€œforest in the customary community'€™s area'€.

Forests, Abdon notes, are relatively easy to exploit, and much easier than gold, copper or oil that need costly and complicated exploration and extraction.

'€œGovernments, after the reform era, have made attempts to restore the rights of indigenous people. However, problems that involve numerous corporations in traditional areas have piled up and hampered the process,'€ Abdon said.

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