A civil society group on Wednesday (11/10) urged the government to revoke a presidential decree on the resettlement schemes in forest areas. (Reuters Photo/Bruno Kelly)

Indigenous Communities Face Expulsion From Traditional Lands


OCTOBER 12, 2017

Jakarta. A civil society group on Wednesday (11/10) urged the government to revoke a presidential decree on the resettlement schemes in forest areas, which was issued about a month ago.

The forest areas in the decree signed by President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo on Sept. 6 are classified as conservation forests, protected forests and production forests.

Muhammad Arman, head of legal and advocacy division of the Indigenous Peoples Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN), said the resettlement program under the decree could threaten and potentially criminalize indigenous communities that for years have been living in the areas.

"[Indigenous communities that live on] 1.6 million hectares of conservation forests are in threat of resettlement," Arman told reporters.

The lands constitute 20 percent of 8,2 million hectares registered by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry and the Ministry of Spatial Planning as indigenous.

Association for Community and Ecology-Based Law Reform (Perkumpulan HuMa) researcher Erwin Dwi Kristianto said in a statement that the decree "creates uncertainty" and damages social forestry and communal rights.

While the decree, of which implementation started on Sept. 11, obliges local governments to provide legal protection for the communities living in the forest areas, it also permits their resettlement.