Echoing the Ratification of the Bill on Indigenous Peoples – The VI Congress of the Archipelago Indigenous Peoples (KMAN) officially started at the Barnabas Youwe Stadium, Sentani, Jayapura Regency, Papua, Monday, October 24, 2022.

This congress was joined by thousands of indigenous peoples from the regions of Java, Sunda, Madura, South Sulawesi, Kalimantan, Maluku, Nusa Tenggara to parts of Papua.

In the dialogue, for about 2,000 indigenous peoples of the archipelago echoed the Draft Law on Indigenous Peoples (RUU MHA) to be immediately ratified by the Indonesian House (DPR).

The pressure is getting stronger because the rights of indigenous peoples are annexed by corporations for business purposes. A number of indigenous women from various indigenous communities in the archipelago considered that the MHA Bill had never been ratified in the plenary session of the DPR, due to the lack of political will, either from the President or the DPR.

In fact, for them, seven factions have agreed to continue this bill as an initiative of the DPR as a result of the plenary session of the Legislative Body, while two factions have refused. A number of supports were raised for the ratification of the MHA Bill.

One of them came from the former Governor of Papua, Barnabas Suebu who pushed for the ratification of the Draft Law (RUU) for Indigenous Peoples to the House of Representatives (DPR) of the Republic of Indonesia.

 “The indigenous people’s voice is my voice. For this reason, I invite all people in the archipelago to unite to encourage the acceleration of the ratification of the Draft Law on Indigenous Peoples,” said Barnabas Suebu.

According to Barnabas Suebu, indigenous peoples should not be silent and cry over this issue. In fact, he in a loud voice is ready with the indigenous people of the archipelago to urge the Indonesian House to immediately ratify the bill.

“I am ready! Together with all of the indigenous peoples of the archipelago, we went to the DPR-RI building to President Jokowi and asked that the Indigenous Peoples Bill be ratified immediately,” said Barnabas Suebu to applause from KMAN VI participants.

Abdon Nababan from the Alliance of Indigenous Peoples of the Archipelago (AMAN) said the issue of the MHA Bill was in the spotlight because the MHA Bill, which was proposed by two members of the National Democratic Party faction from the constituencies of South Sulawesi and Papua, had been discussed since the 2014-2019 period.

“The bill has also been approved by the plenary meeting of the Legislative Body (Baleg) of the DPR on September 4, 2020. However, this bill has never been ratified in the plenary session of the DPR. Even though the design is very important to preserve the culture and customs of various ethnic groups in Indonesia,” explained Abdon Nababan.

Representatives of Indigenous Women from Papua, Rosita Tecuari, also expressed a similar insistence that the Indonesian House of Representatives and the Central Government immediately ratify the Indigenous Law Community Bill.

“Hundreds of hectares of our land and forests were plundered for the benefit of private companies in palm oil investment. Indigenous people are victims. Therefore, through the current indigenous people congress, we respectfully request that the central government take this matter seriously,” she urged.

The complaint of indigenous women like Rosita Tecuari are well-founded. You see, the faction that rejects it is haunted by the shadow that the Indigenous Law Community Bill will become an obstacle to development and investment or it is feared that it will collide with the implementation of the Job Creation Act.

In practice, large corporations are actually worried about the existence of the law. This can be seen from the annexation of customary lands by certain companies in all customary territories throughout the archipelago.

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