State fails to protect land rights, activists say
Indigenous people are most at risk
Father Peter C. Aman said many indigenous Indonesians face marginalization
Human rights activists from the Inter-Franciscans for Justice, Peace and Integrated Creation claim the government has failed to recognize the rights of indigenous people. Evidence found by the group in Flores, Kalimantan, Papua and Sumatra islands showed that many indigenous people face marginalization and often become the victims in land dispute cases, said its director Franciscan Father Peter C. Aman. “They were powerless when facing plantation companies working together with, particularly, the local governments," Aman told a seminar in Jakarta. "They were forced to give up their ancestral lands, which were then turned into plantations and extractive industrial areas like mining operations." The constitution demands that the state recognize and respect traditional communities along with their traditional customary rights as long as these remain in existence and are in accordance with the societal development and the principles of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia, and shall be regulated by law. "There is a wide gap between what it is written and its implementation,” Aman said. However, Sri Maharani Dwi Putri from the Center for Research and Development of the National Land Agency insisted that the central government has tried to protect indigenous people through the law. “We, of course, try to respect all people along with the development process,” she said. She blamed land dispute cases on the lack of regional regulations that would ensure indigenous people’s rights.