Forest Peoples Programme and Indonesian partner organisations co-hosted an international workshop on community-based monitoring information systems and forest peoples’ rights in Pekanbaru, Indonesia.
Organisations who fight for forest peoples’ rights in the face of deforestation were asked to evaluate the impacts of the growing harm affecting forest communities and offer insights into the cases in which they work.
The account offered by East Kalimantan-based NGO Nurani Perempuan highlighted the continuing crisis facing indigenous peoples and the vulnerability of their situation. The story of the indigenous community of Long Isun in its struggle to prevent the illegal land grabbing from logging company PT KBT spurred participants to issue a call to action - the Pekanbaru Declaration.
The case detailed how a Forest Stewardship Council-certified logging company had illegally entered the community's ancestral land and begun operations without the consent of the community. When community representatives attempted to address the situation, they were criminalised. One community member, Theodorus Tekwan, was jailed for three months without charge.
The following declaration outlines the community’s wishes to take back control of the activities that occur on their customary land and for governments, certification and human rights bodies to heed their concerns and address gross human rights violations immediately.
We the undersigned representatives of indigenous peoples, local communities and civil society organisations from Indonesia and around the world have travelled to Pekanbaru to highlight the impact of timber, palm oil and other agricultural commodity supply chains on our communities, lands and forests.
We have information in a letter from Long Isun community; and research and report to the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) that violation has occurred and is done by PT Kemakmuran Berkah Timber (PT KBT), a subsidiary Roda Mas Group. The investigation found that PT KBT is actively logging primary forest in the area called the 'Heart of Borneo'. And this against the will of indigenous peoples in Long Isun village.
We urge the Government of Indonesia, of the Province of East Kalimantan and the District of Mahakam Hulu, as well as KomNas HAM and the Forest Stewardship Council to take urgent action to redress violations committed by PT Kemakmuran Berkah Timber (PT KBT), Roda Mas Group, which is actively logging primary forests in the Heart of Borneo against the will of the indigenous people.
Giving first-hand testimonies at Forest Peoples Programme partners’ meeting between 7 and 8 February, we have heard evidence and messages:
- Expressing grave concern regarding the serious negative impacts of PT KBT operations on human rights of the indigenous peoples of Long Isun, Long Pahangai sub-district, Mahakam Hulu district, East Kalimantan. These operations have led to violations of: the community’s rights to their lands and territory; rights to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC); rights to traditional livelihoods and; to food.
- Expressing alarm at the continued activities of PT KBT on the customary land of the community of Long Isun without their consent. PT KBT has never reached an agreement with the self-chosen community representatives through due FPIC processes and continues to operate despite repeated rejections by the community of the company’s presence and activities.
We communicate our deep concern at the criminalization of community member Theodorus Tekwan Yeq, falsely accused of trespassing on his community’s customary lands, and the continued intimidation of community leaders who attempt to defend their customary land.
- Noting with concern the delayed response by the above in addressing these grave human rights violations and request that these be corrected immediately.
- Welcoming the Government of Indonesia’s renewed commitment to agrarian reform, indigenous peoples’ rights, social forestry, conflict resolution and a moratorium on coal and palm oil concessions. We trust this will lead to greater efforts to now implement these policies on the ground and guarantee the protection of human rights, land rights and traditional livelihoods.
We call on the Government of Indonesia, the private sector, certification bodies, investors, financial institutions and the wider public to heed our concerns and take urgent action to resolve this case.
We hereby make the following specific calls to action:
- The SK Bupati Kutai Barat Decree No.136.143/K.917/2011 dated 4 November 2011 be revoked.
- The indigenous peoples of Long Isun have their customary boundaries restored in accordance to the 1966 map agreed between the indigenous communities of the Upper Mahakam.
- The customary land of the village of Long Isun be removed from all company concessions.
- The indigenous peoples of Long Isun manage their own lands and forests.
- This case puts the Forest Stewardship Council’s credibility into question, we therefore call on the Forest Stewardship Council to resolve this case with urgency.
We ask the State to solve transmigration land cases, without jeopardizing transmigrants’ rights or affected indigenous groups. Furthermore, involving transmigrants organization, indigenous peoples and/or local communities representatives will be vital in transmigrants’ settlement planning.
AMAN (Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantara), Jakarta
AsM Law Office, Batam
Yayasan Betang Borneo (YBB), Palangkaraya
Hutan Kita Institute (HAKI), Palembang
Hutan Rakyat Institute (HaRi), Medan
JMGR (Jaringan Masyarakat Gambut Riau), Pekanbaru
KSPPM (Kelompok Studi dan Pengembangan Prakarsa Masyarakat), Parapat
KPA (Konsorsium Pembaruan Agraria), Jakarta
Link-AR Borneo, Pontianak
Malacca Center, Batam - Andiko
Nagari Kapa Community, Pasaman Barat
Yayasan Petak Danum (YPD), Palangkaraya
Perkumpulan Nurani Perempuan (PNP), Samarinda
Yayasan PUSAKA, Jakarta
Sawit Watch, Bogor
SKP – Keuskupan Agung Merauke (Archdiocese of Merauke), Merauke
Sorong Customary Community (Masyarakat Adat Sorong), Sorong
WALHI (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia) Jambi, Jambi
WALHI (Wahana Lingkungan Hidup Indonesia) Kalimantan Barat, Pontianak
Yerisiam Community (Masyarakat Yerisiam), Nabire
Forest Peoples Programme, UK
Rainforest Action Network, USA
DGPA, Democratic Republic of Congo