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HRW urges the Government of Indonesia to protect the rights of indigenous peoples

September 23, 2019


The Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization on Monday urged the Government of Indonesia to protect the rights of indigenous peoples who have lost forests and traditional livelihoods due to oil palm plantations in Kalimantan and Jambi provinces.

HRW has warned that the loss of forests not only damages local indigenous peoples, but is associated with climate change.

“Indigenous communities in Indonesia have suffered significant damage since they lost their leafy ancestral forests to oil palm plantations,” said HRW women and land researcher Juliana Nnoko Mewanu.

“The Indonesian government has created a system that facilitates the deprivation of indigenous land rights,” said Mewanu.

In its report “When we lost the forest, we lost everything: oil palm plantations and rights violations in Indonesia,” of 89 pages, the organization has highlighted the challenges facing indigenous peoples and women in particular.

According to HRW, the impact of oil palm production is visible throughout Indonesia, including the province of Papua, where land-related conflicts are widespread and have often been linked to oil palm plantations.

According to several laws of Indonesia, since 1999 companies seeking to develop oil plant plantations should consult local communities about each stage of the process to obtain government permits.

However, HRW has not found any evidence that companies properly consulted those affected until after the forests were destroyed.

The organization has warned that deforestation threatens the well-being and culture of indigenous populations and also has a global importance in terms of climate change.

“The poverty, hunger and loss of identity suffered by indigenous peoples in exchange for the oil palm and consumer goods it produces is a tragedy of Human Rights,” said Nnoko Mewanu.

“Parliament should quickly adopt the bill to protect indigenous rights to stop further irreversible damage caused by the palm industry,” he added.