On the 2017 International Human Rights Day: #FightTyranny

IPMSDL calls to uphold human rights in the Philippines amid US-Duterte regime’s “terrorist” crackdown in light of IHR Day commemoration

The International Indigenous People’s Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) slams the US-Duterte’s fascist regime and its display of ruthless disrespect to the Filipino people’s rights and civil liberties. The Philippine government is acting as the major human rights violator, waging terroristic attacks against its people, and it is doing so under the auspices of the imperialist US.

The Movement raises grave alarm over Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s rising tyranny, which intensified militarization and human rights violations against Indigenous Peoples, rights defenders, and activists all over the Philippines. The state-perpetrated attacks peaked days before the International Human Rights Day, as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) escalated its counter-insurgency efforts that included civilians and legal organizations critical of the US-Duterte regime as targets.

IPMSDL particularly condemns the recent massacre of indigenous Lumads by military elements last Dec. 3 in Sitio Datalbong, Barangay Ned, Lake Sebu, South Cotabato, Philippines. The 27th and 33rd Infantry Batallion of the AFP killed eight and wounded two of T’boli and Dulangan Manobo farmers as they were about to harvest their crops from their farmland, which was formerly a 300-hectare coffee plantation for Nestle recently regained from the corporate giant David M. Consunji, Inc. (DMCI). Prior to the incident, the military accused on media one of the victims, Datu Victor Danyan, to be a commander of the New People’s Army (NPA).

Aside from that, military offensives caused Lumad communities in Sarangani province and Surigao del Sur in Mindanao to forcibly evacuate. Soldiers have even imposed food blockade to evacuees, alleging that they are supporters of the NPA. Lumad schools also continue to face harassment on ground and even online.

Meanwhile, in other parts of the country, rights defenders and activist leaders are experiencing harassments in various forms due to Duterte’s crackdown order against the militant mass movement. The number of cases documented are rising at the daily. These include the killing of two religious leaders in Luzon and the death threats received by countless activists in major cities.

All these took place less than a month ago since Duterte’s termination of the peace talks with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) through Presidential Proclamation No. 360, and the branding of the belligerent Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing NPA as terrorists through Presidential Proclamation No. 367. As if these are not enough, the AFP recommended the extension of Martial Law in Mindanao, which Duterte may expand to the whole country.

It is timely now, more than ever, to call for the upholding of human rights in observance of the International Human Rights Day. IPMSDL joins the Filipino people in the demand for land, livelihood, rights, justice, and accountability for all inhumane acts of the US-Duterte regime and the AFP.

 

JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIMS OF LAKE SEBU MASSACRE!

DEFEND HUMAN RIGHTS AND CIVIL LIBERTIES! STOP THE KILLINGS!

FIGHT THE US-DUTERTE REGIME’S TYRANNY! RESIST THE CRACKDOWN!

On the 2017 ASEAN Summit

The imperialist powers are consolidating their control over Asia. This was proven by the recently concluded 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and East Asia Summit held November in Manila, Philippines.

Led by the imperialist US, world leaders discussed the promotion of neoliberal policies and programs to enable further state and private entities. In the face of the worsening global economic crisis, these imperialists attempt to preserve themselves through foreign intervention of underdeveloped and developing nations by having them open up their economies with the help of local puppets. ASEAN’s “development” agenda only favors corporations who only seek to maximize profits.

Under this neoliberal framework, the marginalized especially communities of Indigenous Peoples are being displaced from their ancestral lands and dispossessed of natural resources due to massive land grabbing. Their traditions and identities are degraded, their cultures commercialized, their rights especially to self-determination overstepped and violated. They face rampant discrimination and worsened poverty. The promised “growth” is only of imperialism’s benefit and never represent the peoples’ interests.

IPMSDL particularly decries the silence of these timely gatherings on numerous human rights issues in the region: the IP killings in the Philippines, Indonesian occupation of West Papua, Rohingya persecution in Myanmar, and Chinese land-grabbing and environmental plunder along the Mekong Region.

The Movement also criticizes the absurd misuse of public funds by the Philippine government to hosting a summit that is directed towards further exploitation of its people. A good portion of the PHP 15.5 billion-budget was squandered to quell the mobilizations in response to the event. Police used water cannons, truncheons, and the sonic weapon Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD) to violently disperse protesters. Hundreds were injured from both sides.

IPMSDL, along with our allies from the workers, peasants, women, youth, and other marginalized sectors, resolve to continue the struggle against imperialism, state fascism, and all that leads to the oppression of Indigenous Peoples in Southeast Asia and all over the world.

 

SOUTHEAST ASIA NOT FOR SALE!

STOP THE PLUNDER AND MILITARISM IN INDIGENOUS LANDS!

DOWN WITH IMPERIALISM!

Uphold the Native Customary Rights of IP of Sarawak!

UPHOLD THE NATIVE CUSTOMARY RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES OF SARAWAK!

RESIST ALL FORMS OF EXPLOITATION AND INDIGENOUS RIGHTS VIOLATIONS!

 

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) congratulates the Indigenous Peoples (IP) of Sarawak for a successful protest action calling on their government to uphold and respect the Native Customary Rights (NCR) of Sarawak and resisting all attempts of resource plunder perpetuated by state and corporate actors.

On November 13, 2017, over 3,000 people of Sarawak staged a rally to denounce the recent Federal Court decision that favors various private companies to exploit their land resources at the expense of peoples’ welfare. The rally aimed at raising public awareness and consciousness of IP of Sarawak about their struggle to stop development projects that will push them further to the margins. Moreover, it sought to put pressure on their government to comply with Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and Article 13 and 161E of the Federal Constitution that provide inalienable rights for the IP of Sarawak.

Malaysia, a hotspot for plantation and hydroelectric power projects in the region, has been a target for more investments on extractives and energy projects within the ancestral lands of Sarawak natives. However, the right to free, prior and informed consent (FPIC) in the context of their right to self-determination is not guaranteed before any company enters their community. This has lead to conflict, displacement, and rights violations particularly to those who opposes the project. In fact, there were reports that companies hired private gangsters to attack Sarawak natives performing Iban rituals to summon the help of the gods to fight the companies.

Across the world, resource plunder and non-recognition of Indigenous rights have been becoming the norm. Many families in Indigenous communities in Cambodia were displaced due to systematic land grab scheme such as the economic land concession (ELC) and development projects like the Sesan II hydroelectric dam project. The Mapithel dam in Manipur has affected the livelihood of downstream and upstream communities as well as accessibility to water resource.

Amidst growing repression and exploitation, there is always a hope in peoples’ resistance. In Nigeria, the Ogoni community has risen against the attempt of the Federal Government of Nigeria, Shell, and the Nigeria Petroleum Development Company (NPDC) to resume its oil production in Ogoniland. The people of West Papua are advancing their struggle for self-determination and liberation.

Now more than ever, we shall continue to arouse, organize, and mobilize our ranks as we expand and broaden our fight for lands and resources among and between Indigenous Peoples. We must strengthen our international solidarity with all the oppressed peoples of the world.

The result of the protest of Sarawakians is a big step forward in building a stronger IP movement which shall be at the forefront of their struggle for lands, rights, and territories. Through collective struggle of Sarawakians, greater victories are possible! ###

Reference: Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator, info@ipmsdl.org 

On the Attacks on Women Human Rights Defenders in Cordillera

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) denounce the political assault against women activists of Cordillera in the Philippines.

Sarah Abellon-Alikes, Sherry Mae Soledad, Joanne Villanueva, Rachel Mariano, and Asia Isabella Gepte were alleged to be members of the New People’s Army along with 18 other individuals. They were filed with fabricated charges of frustrated murder and multiple counts of
attempted murder in relation with encounters of the revolutionary armed organization with the 7th Infantry Division units of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in Ilocos Sur last August.

Around the same time, Shirley Ann Angiwot as well as church workers supportive of the peace talks between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines were tagged as “enemies of the State,” which circulated in social media. Alikes, Soledad, Villanueva, Mariano, Gepte, and Alingot are leaders of the Cordillera people’s movement, whose organizations are actively involved in campaigns for the rights and welfare of the indigenous Cordillerans. Recently, they were in staunch support of a local anti-mining alliance in Kasibu town that has been continually harassed by the 7th ID for their resistance.

IPMSDL expresses its grave concern on the heightening repression against human rights defenders in the Philippines, especially leaders of Indigenous people’s groups. With militarization intensified, state forces have conveniently red-tagged activist-leaders and human rights
defenders to quell dissent of affected communities and indigenous peoples’ groups against government-backed development aggression projects, guised as counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts. This is how Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte exercised his tyrannical rule: empowering fascist forces instead of uplifting the marginalized.

The Movement stands with the women activists of Cordillera and the communities they defend.

 

END STATE FASCISM!

HANDS-OFF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS!

STOP THE PERSECUTION OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES!

On Nasako Besingi’s Arrest

 

The International Indigenous People’s Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) condemns the Cameroon government for the arbitrary arrest and detention of environmental activist and human rights defender Nasako Besingi of Cameroon, Central Africa.

On 25 September 2017, authorities arrested Besingi and raided his office in Mundemba, Ndian Division due to undisclosed charges. He was kept out of contact until the Buea Military Tribunal’s questioning on 28 September 2017. The court accused Besingi of insurrection and secession, and ruled his imprisonment at the Buea Central Prison while the preliminary investigation is still ongoing.

Besingi, the executive director of Struggle to Economize Future Environment (SEFE), is known for leading the fight against the land grabbing of Herakles Farms, an American agribusiness company. The company is developing a 20,000-hectare palm oil project that is situated in the Congo basin, the world’s second-largest rainforested area and where Mundemba lies.

Nasako Besingi is just one of many environmental and human rights activists unlawfully arrested in different parts of the world.

In Agusan del Sur, Philippines, rural missionaries staff Julito Otacan and five other Banwaon human rights defenders were arrested in the morning of 27 October 2017. Otacan is a field worker of the project, Protecting and Promoting Indigenous Human Rights in the Philippines, organizing and facilitating the training of community members as human rights defenders, while the other five are members of Tagdumahan – a Banwaon Peoples’ Organization that has long been targeted by the military because of their vocal assertion of their rights to the Banwaon’s ancestral domain targeted by logging and mining companies.

In Sabah, Malaysia, Atama Katama and SM Muthu are being demanded to pay 340,000 USD aside from facing possible detention for defamation against Dr. Herman James Luping, a former Deputy Chief Minister of Sabah as a consequence of speaking out on Luping’s controversial appointment to the Royal Commission of Inquiry.

IPMSDL calls for the immediate release of Besingi and all other political prisoners all over the world. The Movement urges the Cameroon government to drop the unfounded charges against Nasako, and to recognize the rights and freedoms of its people more so of the marginalized. Let the English-speaking regions exercise their constitutionally granted independence and autonomy, in respect of their cultural origins and their right to self-determination, instead of wielding political repression that only worsens the social unrest.

FREE NASAKO BESINGI! FREE ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
STOP THE DISCRIMINATION AND POLITICAL REPRESSION AGAINST THE ENGLISH CAMEROONIANS!
UPHOLD THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION AND COLLECTIVE ASSEMBLY!
HANDS OFF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS!

2017 International Civil Society Week

Indigenous peoples make up the majority in most Pacific Islands. Yet, colonial and imperialist exploitation has led to them being national minorities in their own lands.

By the turn of the century, in spite of various reforms and international mechanisms that have been introduced to protect indigenous rights, environmental plunder and colonial inequalities still persisted. Environmental, social, and economic challenges brought about by capitalistic greed have inhibited the indigenous peoples’ access to basic human rights such as quality education, health services, housing, and sustainable livelihood. In response to the growing oppression, several independence and indigenous rights movements have risen in the region and until now, indigenous peoples and nations of the Pacific continue their struggle for independent nationhood.

IPMSDL, in collaboration with Dewan Adat Papua and Merdeka (West Papua Support Committee), brings you a plenary session on Self-Determination and Liberation in the Pacific, happening on December 6, 2017 as part of the 2017 International Civil Society Week in Suva, Fiji co-hosted by CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation and Piango.

Register now!

Advancing Development Effectiveness in Indigenous Territories: IPMSDL in the 1st International Dayak Congress

By Jiten Yumnam
Email: mangangmacha@gmail.com

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination & Liberation (IPMSDL), the focal organization for the Indigenous Peoples Sector of the CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE), attended the 1st International Dayak Congress held at Pontianak, West Kalimantan, Indonesia from 24th until 26th July 2017. The Congress was organized primarily to discuss and converse among diverse stakeholders the advancement of the rights, indigenous cultures, way of life, and sustainable development among the Dayak people inhabiting the Sabah and Sarawak side of Malaysia and the West Kalimantan in the Borneo Islands. The IPMSDL delegates representing CPDE include Mr. Atama Katama, International Advisor of the Borneo Dayak Forum, Ms. Beverly Longid, IPMSDL Global Coordinator, and Mr. Jiten Yumnam, Secretary of the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur. They shared the issues and challenges in realizing development effectiveness in indigenous territories.


Ms. Beverly Longid, Global Coordinator of IPMSDL

IPMSDL organized a solidarity event on Development Effectiveness on 26th July which was attended by around 200 participants. Ms. Beverly Longid shared the history of colonization of indigenous peoples and their struggle and resistance for land, rights, and for survival. She also shared that the intrusion on indigenous peoples’ land of mining, oil exploration, large infrastructure projects, and the subsequent disrespect of traditional customary practices, multifaceted environment impacts, corporatization, and privatization, have further negated their self-determination. Indigenous peoples land and territories are also subjected to increased conflict, instability, militarization, human rights violations, and repression of traditional institutions and organizations. Ms. Longid also stressed the importance of building solidarity among different communities, stakeholders, and sectors which are equally or similarly exploited like indigenous peoples.


Mr. Atama Katama of the Borneo Dayak Forum and IPMSDL

Mr. Atama Katama of the Borneo Dayak Forum shared that indigenous peoples land in the Borneo islands, especially those in Sabah and Sarawak, Malaysia and West Kalimantan, Indonesia, are subjected to increased intrusion of multinational private companies pursuing oil palm and rubber plantations, as well as coal and mineral mines. He also shared that Free Trade Agreements and the insistence on liberalization over production for profit and privatization has seriously undermined indigenous peoples’ rights in Indonesia. The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement will further accelerate and reinforce monopoly capitalism in the Asian region and he stressed the need to uphold development justice.

The increased loss of land and forests to Palm oil plantations is worsening the loss of the Dayak peoples’ culture, rituals, traditional knowledge, and livelihood dependence on healthy forest. The originality of knowledge that comes from traditional knowledge, customary laws, rituals, dances, knowledge about indigenous plants and food, traditional healing, etc. is really valuable for indigenous communities. The changing globalized world is often detrimental to the prevalence of such traditional knowledge and the sharing and exchange of knowledge among the Dayak people involving the youths to further enliven the living cultures and mitigate the threats and challenge. Defending the land and forest in Kalimantan, along with imparting indigenous knowledge among the Dayak youths, is one way of defending indigenous peoples’ way of life and cultures and in asserting their self-determination over their land, lives, cultures, and future, and to resist imperialist globalization and corporate expansionism.


Mr. Jiten Yumnam of the Centre for Research and Advocacy – Manipur and IPMSDL

Mr. Jiten Yumnam of the Centre for Research and Advocacy, Manipur shared that unsustainable and destructive development projects have threatened the survival of indigenous peoples of Manipur and North East. The 105 MW Loktak Hydroelectric Project, the Mapithel Dam, submerged 80,000 acres of land. The Proposed 1500 MW Tipaimukh dam, 190 MW Pabram Dam, and others that are expected to rise, will submerge 60,000 acres of land. Enabling environment has been fostered for private sector functioning while restrictions and targeting of indigenous peoples and human rights defenders are increasing. Despite the global accord agreed in Busan HLM, many governments refused to recognise the independent role of Civil Society in development. States have worked against indigenous peoples’ rights and organizations and denied their right to self-determination and to free, prior, and informed consent.

The IPMSDL event ended with emphasis on the recognition of indigenous peoples’ rights and also for all stakeholders, the State, and the corporate bodies in particular, to uphold CPDE’s key messages, viz, advancing human rights approach to development, promoting environmental sustainability, gender equality, CSO’s Enabling Environment, private sector accountability, just peaceful & a secure world order, and an inclusive multi-stakeholder partnership towards advancing development effectiveness.

The CPDE delegates also propagated that the role of CSOs recognised in the Busan Principles is carried forward in all development processes. Multi-stakeholder partnership should not only be for Public Private Partnership (PPP) or for the profit of corporations.

The 1st International Dayak Congress was also an occasion for sharing of experiences among indigenous peoples and for exposure to indigenous communities affected and challenged by mono cultivation in West Kalimantan. A visit at Kampung Raba and Tapis Village in interior West Kalimantan by Mr. Jiten Yumnam was a testimony to the ruthless destruction of forest land by the ever-expanding oil palm plantations and companies like Hilton, and the negation of community rights over their land and forest. In another visit on 29th July in Tapis Village, village elders complained that oil palm companies like Hilton, Agrina, and SGC plundered their forest through forest land acquisitions in the most exploitative means. The palm oil companies also deceived the villagers and incited conflict among them. The Indonesian Government is also preparing to mine Bauxite in a sacred hill within their village land in Kampung Raba and a peripheral village. The sharing in the village reflected not just the traditional wisdom and sustainable land and forest management of indigenous communities, but also the role of the Indonesian State and the corporate bodies in misleading indigenous peoples, pushing them to the brink of survival, and subduing their cultures and tradition.

The importance of adherence to human rights principles and recognition of indigenous peoples’ self-determination over their land and resources in all development processes of states, corporate bodies, and development financings is a message pervading in the congress and in the community visits. The promotion of indigenous way of life and sustainable management of land and resources with traditional knowledge and practices can foster sustainable development in Borneo. Ending forced development, establishing accountability mechanism for all development stakeholders, ending environment harm by unsustainable development projects, and rescinding all state effort and militarization to subdue indigenous peoples’ voices for self-determination and their rights is critical for advancing development effectiveness in Indonesia and in all indigenous land and territories.

Enlivening a Fading Culture: A Dayak Experience in Borneo

By Jiten Yumnam
Email: mangangmacha@gmail.com

In an afternoon of July 2017 in Linga Ambawang village, located along the Samak River in West Kalimantan, Indonesia, around one hundred Dayak children and youth gather inside the traditional school to learn indigenous knowledge from their elders. The Dayak people, with several sub-tribes, are spread all over the Borneo Island and most have settled in the Kalimantan in Indonesia and in the Sabah and Sarawak State of Malaysia. The indigenous school, made of wood, cane, and bamboo, decorated with indigenous arts and musical instruments, was recently established by the Dayak youth with the support of their community elders. It was an enchanting experience how the children greeted their elders while following the steps to a dance led by Ms. Modesta Wisa, a Dayak young lady from West Kalimantan and Atama Katama, another Dayak from Sabah. They demonstrated graceful and rhythmic dance steps, which was passed on from their ancestors through generations.

The cheering of “Aros, Aros” filled the air when Dayak children greeted their elders in union. The graceful dance of the children to the beating drums enlivened the whole stretch of the school. Beautiful initiatives like these introduce our younger generations to indigenous cultures and orient them to keep our traditions alive. There was much hope in the collective voices of the children expressing appreciation in their learnings and in the initiative, itself. The ancestors and spirits of the land must be enchanted and delighted with such initiatives.

The indigenous learning school at Linga Ambawang Village

The village chief, Mr. Noeldi, shared that the indigenous school is at an early stage at just six-month-old but expressed his confidence that despite being small, it is a good beginning to promote their peoples’ culture and traditions.  He believes that by maintaining consistency, the initiatives can be further strengthened until their traditional values and knowledge is fully protected and in the safe hands of the coming generations. The traditional school can rekindle and nurture indigenous children and youth’s connection with their land and territories for generations.

Atama sharing Dayak dances from Sabah and Sarawak with children at Linga Ambawang village

Ms. Modesta Wisa, one of the youths involved in setting up the indigenous school, shared that the school is a dream come true for her and that the initiative came from her people’s heart and passion that was made possible with the community’s support. Similar initiatives are being taken up in other places like Adat Radang, where knowledge on traditional craft and arts, caring for the land and environment, and promoting indigenous language are taught.

A village leader, Mr. Tomo, opined that loss of land and forest, already widespread in Kalimantan, has been uprooting the Dayak people, especially the youths, from their land. With traditional territories continuously usurped by monopolist, multi-national palm oil and rubber plantation companies, mining companies, and the state, it is high time for all generations to revitalize their intrinsic role as defendants of their land and forest. Revitalization and transmission of traditional knowledge by imparting them to younger generations is a crucial step towards sustainable and responsible management of their land, forest, and rivers and towards resistance against the companies’ continuing plunder and expropriation of their land and forest.

Ms. Modesta Wisa during a sharing in the indigenous school

Speaking about the unique initiative, Atama Katama, a youth leader from Sabah, shared that indigenous youths need to learn and cherish their cultures and traditional ways, which are important in defending their rights over their lands and their future survival. Most indigenous resources are passed on orally, which can be a challenge in its preservation and promotion. Traditional knowledge on customary laws, rituals, dances, indigenous plants and food, traditional healing, etc. is very valuable for indigenous communities. As globalization in these changing times is becoming detrimental to the preservation of such knowledge, the sharing and exchange among the Dayak people, including the youth, is needed to enliven the cultures and mitigate the threats and challenges.

In a faraway village tucked between the forest and hills in the Central Part of Kalimantan in Borneo Islands, a small team of Dayak youths performed traditional songs and dance to a group of young Dayak children; another conscious initiative to keep their traditions and cultures alive amidst the strong waves of globalization that sweeps indigenous cultures and peoples off survival. In a courtyard by a traditional healer’s home in Mansio Village in West Kalimantan, indigenous youths are busy learning traditional dance and songs. At first, only a few children arrived but later on, more children joined in as the music and the songs played across the village.  The teaching and learning process is a direct display of inter-generational learning of traditional Dayak knowledge. An indigenous martial art, Mallingkaba, was also shared to the youths along with the traditional healer. The elder children, aged 15 to 20, taught Mallingkaba to the younger ones, aged 4 to 11. Boys and girls were taught together and separately depending on their role and responsibility. The traditional shaman occasionally intervened when requested to share his knowledge and skills. When the collective learning began, the village was filled with the voices of the children from their songs, dances, and most importantly, the laughter and the expression of delight on their tender faces. The village is suddenly transformed and the parents and the other elders of the village also joined in on the learning activity. Indigenous learning in its best form, indeed!

Ms. Modesta Wisa with the Dayak children

As some of the traditional songs shared is about the glory of Kalimantan and the peoples’ care of their land, one could feel there’s much hope and that the Dayak’s vision of a socially, economically, and politically liberated Kalimantan is still possible. One is hopeful that the positive energy that prevailed during the learning process will carry through the coming generations and keep the people, their traditions, and their land alive for long and help the Dayak survive as peoples and as a proud nation. The sharing of knowledge across generations is indeed a beautiful experience and a moment to cherish. These activities are a conscious initiative of the Dayak youths to promote their traditional knowledge and practices amidst the increasing changes in their traditional cultures brought about by the land losses due to a plantation-based economy and rapid globalization.

Indigenous youths like Atama and Wisa attempt to promote cross-cultural exchanges and sharing among the Dayak youths of Malaysia and Indonesia and also to learn the challenges in their land and territories concerning environmental destruction, increased assault on their land, increased corporate expansionism and imperialist globalization, the invasion of foreign capital and the impacts on their land, forest, and resources, and its negative impacts on the culture of indigenous youths. Dayak youths today are inculcated to be stronger leaders to understand and respond appropriately to the challenges affecting their cultures and way of life.

Ms. Wisa shared that West Kalimantan has seen the fast intrusion of palm oil plantations which destroyed the forests that were the traditional source of livelihood and culture for the Dayak people. She expressed that defending the land and forests of Kalimantan, along with imparting indigenous knowledge among the Dayak youths, is one way of defending indigenous peoples’ way of life and cultures and in asserting self-determination over their land, lives, and cultures.  Ms. Wisa is fully aware that the increased loss of her land and forest to palm oil plantations exacerbates the decline of their culture, rituals, and traditional knowledge which are dependent on the healthy survival of forest, including the women’s bamboo, cane, ad craft works. She works with Dayak organizations to ensure the protection of their peoples’ land, forest, and water, and the sustenance of their culture. Indigenous schools are needed to ensure the full embodiment of indigenous cultures and traditions.

The best learning happens when many generations from the community are involved and there is much hope that this conscious effort will help enliven the Dayak culture and traditions.  The learning of the traditional dance and songs happened in a relaxed and conducive environment; there was joy and laughter all around and there was a strong sense of collective role and responsibility in keeping the traditions alive and in ensuring the survival of their people. The best of learning also happens in natural settings: in the forest and in the traditional long houses, far away from the crowded classrooms with rigorous strictures and compulsions on young minds. The willingness to learn and the conscious urge to embark on learning in the context of a rich but declining culture is what makes the entire learning process special and unique. The inculcation of Dayak youths and kids with traditional knowledge and to respect towards their elders will help them reconnect with their land and cultures.

Clearance of Forest for Oil Palm plantation in Rees Village near Hilton Company office

Initiatives of the youths like that of Wisa, much concerned with the changing cultures of Dayak people, deserve much appreciation and support. She initiated the indigenous school for the Dayak children to impart their tradition, culture, and heritages, that would make the Dayak people a proud people with dignity and respect, and most importantly, a people fully able to assert self-determination over their land, resources, and their future. While involving herself in teaching Dayak dances, songs, and crafts, she also encouraged her friends and community elders to take responsibility and to also contribute in fostering Dayak culture and traditions. She seems to find solace in fostering inter-generational and inter-age connections among elders, women, youths, and children.

A visit at Kampung Raba and Tapis Village in interior West Kalimantan is simply a testimony of the ruthless destruction of forest land by the ever-expanding oil palm plantations of companies like Hilton and the negation of community rights over their land and forest. Mr. David Dumas, one of the villagers, shared how the palm oil companies have destroyed the forest land of their village and their indigenous way of life.

Palm Oil plantations are replacing the traditional forests of West Kalimantan

The palm oil companies also deceived the villagers and incited conflict among them. Similarly, in Tapis Village, the village elders complained that oil palm companies like Hilton, Agrina, and SGC plundered their forest through unleashed land acquisition with the most exploitative means. The sharing in the two villages reflected not just the traditional wisdom and sustainable land and forest management of indigenous communities, but also the role of the Indonesian State and the corporate bodies in deceiving indigenous peoples and pushing them to the brink of survival through annihilation of their cultures, tradition, and values. The Indonesian Government is also preparing to mine Bauxite in a sacred hill between their village land in Kampung Raba and another peripheral village. The Dayak people in both the Malaysian and Indonesian side of Borneo faces increased onslaught on their lands and resources and state repression especially in the Malaysian side. Indigenous youths are growing increasingly conscious of the unfolding realities and are preparing to undertake all efforts and means to respond to these emerging realities. The promotion of the indigenous way of life, of sustainable management of land and resources using traditional knowledge and practices will surely contribute to fostering sustainable development in Borneo.

The passing on of traditional knowledge and practices such as on traditional medicine also depends on protection of their land and forest resources. Indeed, losing our land and resources will also lead to loss of cultures, traditions and value systems within the community. Indigenous communities also need to respond to other factors that threaten their cultures, such as the introduction of larger economic and political forces that force indigenous children, youths, and women to migrate outside their territories for the sake of education, work, and other reasons. The visionary initiatives and practical approach of the Dayak youth is simply exemplary and gives a lesson for all indigenous communities beyond frontiers to conduct similar initiatives in other indigenous land and territories, such as in Manipur, that are directed towards asserting self-determination over their land, life, and future.

On the Violent Dispersal of the August 15, 2017 rallies in Indonesia

The International Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) denounces the violent dispersal of Papuans who rallied for their self-determination and liberation in Indonesia on the 55th year commemoration of the 1968 New York Agreement.

Indonesian police arrested and injured hundreds of rallyists on 15 August 2017 in several of the country’s cities where the protests took place. The demonstrations, which were also held in United Kingdom, Netherlands, and Australia, called for a legitimate UN-administered referendum that would decide West Papua’s independence from Indonesia.

Nonetheless, IPMSDL lauds the militant display of the Papuan peoples to assert for West Papua’s independence. The Movement also congratulates the participation and leadership of the Papuan youth and students in the Indonesia protests. Oppressive states would easily wield repression against peoples’ resistance, denying them their basic rights including freedom of expression and assembly – much like in Indonesia, in order for the government to maintain its hold over West Papua. In today’s trying times, such daring actions give hope to the marginalized and other Indigenous Peoples worldwide to advance their respective struggles brought about by imperialist greed and domination.

We believe the interest and welfare of the Papuan peoples will never be of precedence if West Papua remains its colonized status. Thus, the Movement commits its fervent support West Papua’s struggle and just assertion for self-determination and liberation versus Indonesia’s national oppression and colonization.

MERDEKA FOR WEST PAPUA!
STRUGGLE FOR THE PAPUAN PEOPLES’ SELF-DETERMINATION AND LIBERATION!
LONG LIVE INTERNATIONAL SOLIDARITY!

On the 55th Anniversary of the New York Agreement: MERDEKA FOR WEST PAPUA!

On the 55th year of the “Broken Promise,” the Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL) and the Merdeka West Papua Support Network reiterate the call to free West Papua. We demand to allow the peoples of West Papua to vote for their independence, which was guaranteed by the New York Agreement of 15 August 1962.

The Papuans’ “act of free choice” never took place. We refuse to recognize the US imperialist-backed bogus referendum of 1969. The landmark agreement only officiated the turnover of West Papua’s colonization from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to Indonesia.

This historical betrayal has led to the renewed national oppression and subjugation of West Papua. Its peoples only experienced extreme repression and genocide under the Indonesian colonial rule, whilst the riches of their ancestral lands are plundered. The government of Indonesia never fulfilled its “administrative responsibility” mandated by the agreement to advance the social, cultural, and economic development of West Papua.

The Papuans suffered from this grave injustice for more than half a century, and we say enough. It is time: Merdeka for West Papua!

We call the United Nations (UN) to fulfill its obligation to end colonialism and internationally facilitate a genuine referendum on independence among the peoples of West Papua. We also demand the UN to look into and act upon the widespread human rights violations in and territorial degradation of West Papua. The Indonesia government should be held accountable for its transgressions against the Papuan peoples.

Let us show our fervent support and solidarity to the global demonstration today, 15 August 2017, at London and in other parts of the world in commemoration of the “Day of Broken Promise.” Together, let us stand for West Papua’s self-determination and liberation.

MERDEKA FOR WEST PAPUA!
STRUGGLE FOR THE PAPUAN PEOPLES’ SELF-DETERMINATION AND LIBERATION!
US IMPERIALIST AND INDONESIA, OUT OF WEST PAPUA!
END THE COLONIZATION, OCCUPATION, SEVERE REPRESSION, AND GENOCIDE IN WEST PAPUA!
LONG LIVE THE PEOPLES OF WEST PAPUA!

#LetWestPapuaVote #BackTheSwim #FreeWestPapua

Let us also express our solidarity through this global petition addressed to the UN. These names will be delivered at the end of this month in Geneva after being swum 69 km across Lake Geneva by the Swim for West Papua team.