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Jakarta Post

2017 not ‘a friendly year’ for RI indigenous people: Alliance

  • Moses Ompusunggu

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, December 20, 2017   /   09:49 pm
2017 not ‘a friendly year’ for RI indigenous people: Alliance Upholding people's rights: Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar conveys her speech during the opening of the 5th Congress of Indigenous People’s Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) in Tanjung Gusta, Deli Serdang regency, North Sumatra, in March. (JP/Apriadi Gunawan)

Indigenous communities in Indonesia have faced rampant rights violations throughout 2017, a rights group said on Wednesday.

Alliance of Indigenous People of the Archipelago (AMAN) secretary-general Rukka Sombolinggi said indigenous leaders fighting to defend their land had been criminalized this year while the government was slow to acknowledge custodial forests.

Rukka further said there had been a decline in trust of indigenous people toward the government of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who had pledged to improve their livelihoods and defend their rights during his presidential campaign in 2014.

“We were enthusiastic in 2014 and remained that way until 2015. We were a bit disappointed in 2016 and finally we lost our spirit in 2017,” Rukka told a press conference.

She said 2017 was filled with violence against indigenous people, who found themselves in a difficult position as they defended their land. 

Rukka further said AMAN was disappointed by the lack of progress in the acknowledgement of custodial forests by the government, although various rights groups had submitted a map of customary boundaries that covered 8.2 million hectares across the country. 

Jokowi acknowledged in 2016 the forests belonging to nine indigenous communities that covered 13,122-ha while this year, his administration had acknowledged only 3,092-ha of forests. (ebf)