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Giving Back the Rights that Have Been Taken Away from Merangin District

Meeting to Discuss Rights that Have Been Deprived from Merangin District

Jakarta – The Chairman of the Special Committee 3 of the District Legislative Body from Merangin Regency, Jambi Province, visited Jakarta on January 26th, 2016. The Special Committee's responsibility is to formulate local regulations about the recognition of Marga Serampas indigenous people.

The plan is that on February 2016, the committee will submit a regulation draft to the Parliament and the Provincial Government of Jambi. "Our arrival aims to seek advice and support in the process of ratification of the draft regulations," said the chairman of the Special Committee 3. According to him, this regulation was proposed by the community and then it became the Parliament initiative.

The hearing meeting in the office of the REDD+ Partnership in South Jakarta, January 26, 2016 was attended by officials of the Directorate for Conflict Management, Tenure and Indigenous Forest KLHK, and NGO activists.

Indigenous people in many regions were demanding the government to run the Constitutional Court (MK) decision No. 35 of 2012. This State High Institution granted part of the judicial review of Law No. 41 of 1999 on Forestry that was filed by the Indigenous People Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) and two indigenous communities, which are Kanegerian Kuntu and Kasepuhan Cisitu. MK deleted the word “state” and recognize indigenous forest as a forest located in the area of indigenous people.

Since 1982, Serampas indigenou people has been engaged in a conflict with Great Hall of the Kerinci Seblat National Park. Marga Serampas is a traditional indigenous community that covers 5 areas of the village. The Government stated that almost all the indigenous territories of Serampas belong to the National Park area. That made the people feel that the government seized their land and forest that have been inhabited by their community since the age of their ancestors, hundreds of years ago.

Regional regulations which will become a law will be the base in the process of determination of indigenous forests of Serampas. Under the regulation drafts, there is a discussion of norms, regional mapping, discussion of rights, and the responsibilities of government in regards to indigenous people. There are a number of proposals to the Special Committee 3 of Merangin Parliament, which are: the regulatory process obligations of indigenous people in forest management, institutional mechanisms and the top-down development plan in relations to the needs of society.

Jonny Purba, a Ministry of Environment and Forestry (KLHK) official explained that the commitment of local government is very important in the formation of regional products related to indigenous people. Legislation, he said, should include the local context of indigenous people as a social unit, including the specification of the location. The process of self-identification as an internal process within the communities is an important element in the process of planning and discussion of the regulation drafts.

"There needs to be a special article which addresses the issue of the recognition of indigenous and traditional knowledge," said Jonny Purba. According to him, Indonesia has 3,227 indigenous communities who support local wisdom. The problem here is that the concept of intellectual property rights is currently only focused on individuals’ wealth, disregarding the fact that indigenous knowledge can be of value and philosophy.

At the hearing meeting conducted at the REDD+ Partnership in South Jakarta, there are two important notes. First, the change of status of the forest, for example, change the status of the forest from “the state’s forest” to “indigenous forest” that has conservation value. Second, minimizing potential conflicts between indigenous people and citizens who live inside the indigenous forest area.

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United Nations Development Programme - 2016