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Jakarta Post

Acknowledgment of indigenous rights only ‘symbolic,’ commissioner says

  • Moses Ompusunggu

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, December 21, 2017   /   10:28 am
Acknowledgment of indigenous rights only ‘symbolic,’ commissioner says A 'symbolic' event: Gold-decorated chariot Ki Jaga Raksa carries the Red-and-White national flag and the Indonesian independence proclamation's text from the National Monument to the State Palace for the 72nd Independence Day celebration in Jakarta on Aug.17. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)

The government has only acknowledged Indonesia's indigenous cultural diversity through "symbolic" activities while at the same, it has failed to fully protect indigenous communities across the country, a rights advocate said on Wednesday.

National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) commissioner Sandrayati Moniaga said one of the ‘symbolic’ activities staged by the current administration was Indonesia’s 72nd Independence Day celebration held at the State Palace in Jakarta on Aug.17, during which President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, his Cabinet ministers and all participants wore traditional attire from the archipelago.

However, when it comes to its responsibilities to provide administrative and legal acknowledgment of indigenous people in Indonesia, the government’s efforts have been "minimal," Sandrayati said.

“Criminalization has become a logical consequence of the state’s attitude toward indigenous people, in which it has not yet acknowledged their presence and their rights, especially their land," Sandrayati told a press conference held by the Alliance of Indigenous People of the Archipelago (AMAN).

Komnas HAM last year launched an national investigation into the condition of indigenous people living in forests in Indonesia. The investigation revealed the numerous human rights violations they had suffered from a long time.

Sandrayati said indigenous communities had long been denied access to their own customary boundaries, creating long-standing economic and social problems as a result of their lack of freedom to harness natural resources.

She said the problems stemmed from the designation of customary forests as state land by the Suharto administration in the 70s to 80s, paving the way for the massive expansion of forestry, mining and plantation businesses.  (ebf)