Indigenous peoples in the Aru Islands have experienced decades of injustice in their homeland. Communities become victims of various interests that have multiple impacts from social, ecological and cultural and others. The community resisted and struggled in various ways, including by pushing for the protection rules of the Aru Indigenous People. In 2022, the Regional Regulation concerning the Recognition and Protection of the Aru Ursia Urlima Customary Law Society, was issued. The Civil Society Coalition for the Aru Islands also urged follow-up after the issuance of the regional regulation.
Eko Cahyono, a researcher at the Papua Study Center (PSC) said that the regional regulation as an effort to stop the massive extractive business in Aru is not necessarily proven. Even so, he said, regional regulations at least become a legal basis for indigenous peoples and their agrarian rights.
With that regional regulation, he said, there was state legal recognition of indigenous peoples in Aru. “This is very important,” he said in a discussion held by the Papua Study Center in Cikini, Jakarta, last July.
Post-regional regulations, he said, are important steps for all parties to push for implementation in local governments. “For instance, the regional administration must quickly establish an inclusive verification team for communities that practice customary law. The regional government must also prepare a budget to support the indigenous peoples verification team,” he said.
If the regional regulations don’t work, he said, various problems will continue to arise that will continue to threaten the Aru Indigenous People.
Mercy C. Barends, member of the DPR for the Maluku Dapil, said that the Aru people are sea nomads, with a long history of inter-island tenure, bound by the same traditional history.
Ignoring the rights of indigenous peoples over their homeland in Aru, he said, will cause social upheaval and resistance like now.
Currently, the situation of indigenous peoples has not improved, among other things, they are still dealing with various conflicts due to investment in Aru.
There were four stages of conflict, he said, first , the conflict between the Marfenfen Indigenous People and the Indonesian Navy since 1991 until now.
The Aru indigenous people filed a lawsuit against the Dobo District Court for land ownership claims in November 2021.
“We met with numerous parties in Jakarta over the course of four months last year (2022) while working with the advocacy team. Except we haven’t had the chance to meet the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Machfud MD, we have met almost all of them, most recently with the Navy, official meetings,” he said.
Second , said Mercy, in the PT Menara Group case, 489,000 hectares are almost controlled. Thanks to the long struggle of the community and various parties through SaveAru, the then Minister of Forestry—now the Environment and Forestry—did not grant the forest area release. Menara Group failed to invest in sugarcane plantations. Third , the cattle breeding project.
The government once appropriated private property during the New Order era in order to build a monoculture plantation. L and take hold of bing. At this time, the tree and o x igen both seize the bing.
For recommendations so that agrarian conflicts do not prolong in the Aru Islands, they prepared a plan and strategy for accelerating the mapping of indigenous peoples.
Another recommendation, recognition of indigenous peoples must be attached with a map of the area, and conflict resolution mechanisms. Programs and policies to empower and provide benefits to indigenous peoples are adjusted to the interests of conservation, ecosystems, forest protection according to applicable regulations. Also strengthening the capacity of indigenous peoples related to forest governance.
Mufti Fathul Barri, Executive Director of Forest Watch Indonesia (FWI), said that ‘development’ is oriented towards economic growth minus equity and justice for agrarian resources in the Aru Islands and ignores the existence of indigenous peoples.
The reason for accelerating development in Aru, however, actually degrades the lives of indigenous peoples because it only puts forward the logic of exploitation, extraction and commodification of natural wealth.
Various concessions entered Aru targeting forest areas.
As an archipelagic country, said Ode, as he is affectionately called, the perception of development should be in the spirit of the archipelago. Currently, he said, it is too land-biased with large-scale extractive investments.
Ok. Engelina Pattiasina, Director of the Archipelago Solidarity Foundation, is concerned that the Aru Islands are victims of a struggle for influence in the South Pacific. This is because, according to Engelina, the geopolitical shift to the Pacific has made Aru an arena for a struggle for influence between America and China.
China, he said, strengthens influence through capital. America responded by partnering with Australia and the United Kingdom (United Kingdom) to build a new alliance Aukus, short for Australia, United Kingdom and United States in 2021.
With this strategic political-economic position, he said, efforts to prosper the people of the Aru Islands mean maintaining national defense and security. Conversely, ignoring the fulfillment of their welfare will result in threats to national security and defense.
Mimin Dwi Hartono, from Komnas HAM, said that priority policies and specific strategies are important in efforts to protect human rights and their living space in the Aru Islands.
Komnas HAM’s efforts through the National Inquiry to resolve agrarian conflicts at the upstream policy level, beyond case-by-case resolution, in particular, relevant indigenous peoples continue.
Mika Ganobal, Head of Aru Utara Timur Sub-District and SaveAru Island Coordinator said the threats from the Aru people came and went. Aru, said Mika, is like the prima donna of investors who can threaten society because it causes social impacts, environmental damage and others.
“From the past the Aru people have lived as fishermen and farmers.”
When a large-scale business enters, he said, it will also have an impact on the environment, sea and land have a close relationship.
Mama Ocha Gealogoy, a women’s representative for Marfenfen Village, Aru Islands, said that land is a legacy from the creator of the universe to the ancestors in Aru. Before there was Indonesia, he said, the Aru people already lived in Aru land, including the Marfenfen people.