Jakarta, 10 November 2019 – It is only 67 more days until April 17 2019 election. Going through these days is political suspense for Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia. It is concerning because the momentum indicates strongly that Indigenous Peoples Bill will be neglected once more by the Government, Guardian of this country.

            At the end of November 2013, Indigenous Peoples Bill made it to the National Legislation Program (Prolegnas). In 2014, the Parliament even formed a Special Committee (Pansus) to discuss the bill. The then President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (SBY) appointed Ministry of Forestry as the coordinator of Government delegation in the joint discussion of the Bill with the Parliament. Regrettably, the Ministry showed serious lack of commitment, which resulted in the Bill failing to be signed into law.

After the failure of SBY administration to enact the Bill, it continued being deemed important by the new government regime. In the wake of the 2014 election, Joko Widodo-Jusuf Kalla pledged their political commitment to Indigenous Peoples, which was manifested in their political manifesto, Nawacita. Pushing for Indigenous Peoples Bill enactment was one of six political commitments of Jokowi-JK to Indigenous Peoples.

Despite explicit political commitment on paper, the gap between promise and reality could not have been wider, as the Bill was not included in the 2015 and 2016 Prolegnas. Advocacy to the Parliament continued, leading to Indigenous Peoples Bill being taken up as Parliament Initiative Bill in the Plenary Meeting in February 2018.

In the same month, the Head of Indonesian Parliament (DPR) sent a letter to the President. Following the letter, President Joko Widodo instructed six ministers to prepare DIM (Problem Inventory List) for the Bill. They are Minister of Home Affairs, Minister of Environment and Forestry, Minister of Maritime Affairs and Fishery, Minister of Agraria and Spatial Planning/Head of National Land Agency, Minister of Village, Development of Backward Regions and Transmigration, and Minister of Law and Human Rights.

Timewise, the DIM must have been submitted to the Parliament no later than 60 days after the President received the letter. This means that the six ministries appointed by the President had to work fast. DIM from the executive is crucial because it is a precondition for discussion and enactment of the Bill.

Nonetheless, the Government continued delaying the process without due reason. Until today, the DIM has not been submitted to the Parliament, which is a huge irony because Nawacita clearly mentions Indigenous Peoples Bill as one of six political commitments of President Jokowi-JK administration.

“Coalition to Guard Indigenous Peoples Bill has conducted audiences to the government regarding the DIM. What we get is mere inclarity. It feels like we are being played, had to go back and forth from one Ministry to the other. Our question is simple, where is the DIM currently at and what is the current status? DIM for Indigenous Peoples Bill should be seen as a crucial issue by the Work Cabinet. As President’s helper, the Cabinet should assist President Jokowi-JK in fulfilling Nawacita, especially amidst the 2019 Political Agenda,” stressed Dahniar Andriani, Executive Director of HuMa.

Indigenous Peoples in Indonesia are still caught in turbulent waters and continue falling victims to agrarian and natural resources conflicts. HuMa (2019) records that in 2018, there are at least 326 natural resources and agrarian conflicts in Indonesia, covering an area of 2.1 million hectares with 186,631 victims. At least 176,637 victims are Indigenous Peoples. Meanwhile, KIARA records that in 2018, 5 Indigenous Peoples were criminalized and one even lost their life in coastal areas and small islands.

“Rampant agrarian and maritime conflicts reflect Indonesia’s economic development that has not taken the side of Indigenous Peoples, especially those residing in coastal areas and small islands. Their living space and livelihood sources, especially in coastal areas and small islands, are shrinking fast. The government should view this Bill as an instrument to take their side in resolving conflicts they are faced with,” said Muhamad Afif from KIARA.

Delaying discussion and enactment of Indigenous Peoples Bill clearly impacts on Indigenous Peoples not having legal certainty both for their status as legal subject as well as their embedded rights as Indigenous Peoples. This lack of legal certainty within the frame of Republic of Indonesia is likely to continue after the 2019 election. Based on a study by Madani (2018), both President-Vice President candidates do not have strong vision regarding legal guarantee for Indigenous Peoples. The Vision and missions of Prabowo-Sandi does not mention Indigenous Peoples at all while Jokowi-Ma’ruf only mentions fulfillment of the rights of Indigenous Peoples without mentioning any legal product to support it.

“While the Government views that it is enough to depend fulfillment of the rights of Indigenous Peoples on scattered legislations, we view otherwise. The problems of Indigenous Peoples that no Government has solved are rooted in overlapping laws and policies. Even at Ministerial Regulation level, there are at least 14 beleids regulating Indigenous Peoples. The question is, when Indigenous Peoples face a problem, which Ministry will be held responsible?” said Siti Rakhma Mary, Head of Knowledge Management of YLBHI.

The 1945 Constitution mandates fulfillment of the rights of Indigenous People in the form of a Law. This is an expression of the urgent need to restore the relation of the State and Indigenous Peoples that in the course of history of the nation were torn due to repression and injustice. Even more progressively, the Coalition sees that Indigenous Peoples Bill carries the spirit of Indigenous Peoples that uphold the values of human rights and women rights.

“We are aware that in indigenous communities there is still discrimination and violence against indigenous women. This Bill is one legal policy able to bind Indigenous Peoples in active participation to eliminate discrimination and violence against indigenous women. We also see that in indigenous communities there are collective rights of women that are currently left unprotected in various policies in Indonesia, including CEDAW. Therefore, we believe that Indigenous Peoples Bill is the only policy able to protect collective rights of indigenous women and guarantee their participation in Indonesian development,” said Muntaza, Program and Communication Director of PEREMPUAN AMAN.

Last December, for example, Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN), one important organ in the Coalition, has announced that they are maintaining neutral position in the 2019 election battle. This ‘non-block’ position is a political stance following the failure of Jokowi-JK administration to implement Nawacita and obscurity of Prabowo-Sandi’s vision and mission regarding Indigenous Peoples.

“Indigenous Peoples Bill is not a political trade pawn. Indonesia needs the Bill because it is our Constitution’s mandate. Commitment to this Bill cannot just be made on paper or in political speeches. The Government must show concrete actions now in favor of Indigenous Peoples that for decades have become victims of injustice in policies regarding natural resources in Indonesia,” said Muhammad Arman, Director of Policy Advocacy, Law, and Human Rights of PB AMAN.

Indigenous Peoples Bill has been in limbo for almost a decade. It cannot be denied that there is a discourse to postpone the enactment of the Bill, which is an insult to the men and women who founded this nation. Delaying the enactment of the Bill is tantamount to delaying justice for all Indonesians since the Bill is one progressive step in saving the nation and the motherland.


Contact persons:

  1. Siti Rakhma Mary (YLBHI) Hp: +62 812 284 0995
  2. Muntaza (PEREMPUAN AMAN) Hp: +62 822 1325 6387
  3. Dahniar Andriani (HuMa) Hp: +62 813 4133 3080
  4. Muhammad Arman (PB AMAN) Hp: +62 812 1879 1131
  5. Muhamad Afif (KIARA) Hp: xxxxxxx

The Coalition to Guard Indigenous Peoples Bill is a coalition of civil society organizations and individuals concerned about indigenous peoples, agrarian, environment, indigenous women, and human rights issues. It was formed to guard discussion of Indigenous Peoples in the Parliament so that the Bill is able to recognize, protect, and fulfill the rights of indigenous peoples. The Coalition consists of: Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (AMAN), debtWatch Indonesia, Forum Masyarakat Adat Pesisir Indonesia, HuMa, Jurnal Perempuan, Kalyanamitra, Kemitraan, Kiara, Koalisi Perempuan Indonesia (KPI), Konsorsium Pembaharuan Agraria (KPA), Lakpesdam NU, Madani, Merdesa Institut, Persekutuan Perempuan Adat Nusantara (PEREMPUAN AMAN), Perhimpunan Pembela Masyarakat Adat Nusantara (PPMAN), Rimbawan Muda Indonesia (RMI), Sawit Watch, SatuNama, Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia (Walhi), Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI).


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