Women and children in Yahukimo, West Papua - Jubi/Victor Mambor

Native Papuans Face Challenges as They Mark World Indigenous People’s Day

Women and children in Yahukimo, West Papua - Jubi/Victor Mambor

Women and children in Yahukimo, West Papua – Jubi/Victor Mambor

Jayapura, Jubi – Land rights, self-determination and autonomy have become urgent issues for indigenous peoples in the world, including Indonesia, said the Chairman of Management Board Pusaka Foundation Elimianus Ola Kleden Monday (8/8/2016) in remarks to commemorate the 22nd World Indigenous People’s Day.

Kleden told Jubi that Papuan people meet the criteria of indigenous people according to international law.

“However, there are two main challenges, namely its status as an Indonesian province and internal consolidation, in particular in determining the political will,” said Kleden, who for decades has worked on the issues of indigenous people.

As a province in Indonesia, he said, Papua’s struggle should often ‘be adjusted’ to its status as a part Indonesia. “If not, they would get many accusations,” he said.


It has close relation with the second challenge, which the issue of Papua indigenous people is always confronting with the political issue, so the attempt to enforce the rights, which is actually the right of citizens, is potentially differentiating as the issue of separatism. “People are willing to demand their right in development, always have fear to be accused as the OPM,” he said.

Meanwhile, he added, the sentiment among tribes and regions in Papua remains strong, it has made the issue of indigenous people in a region is likely to be seen as very limited. But the Melanesian identity could be a bridge. “In my opinion, it has been tried through the Melanesian issue,” he said.

When asked related to the struggle of the indigenous people in the world today, he said the UN Declaration on the Indigenous People Rights (UNDRIP) 2007 that adopted by 144 countries as well as the COP (Conference of Parties) is the most significant progress. “I think UNDRIP is the most progressive. In addition, there are agreements in several meetings of the COP, related to the climate or biodiversity, have made the issue of people’s participation and indigenous people’s rights getting stronger,” he said.

In the separate place, the Secretary General of Aliansi Masyarakat Adat Nusantata (AMAN/Alliance for Indigenous People in Indonesia) Abdon Nababan in the written statement to Jubi (8/8) said the rights for education, culture and spiritual are guaranteed by UN Declaration about the Indigenous People’s Rights.

According to him, the importance of education for recognition and protection of the indigenous people is currently voiced by indigenous people of the world in the commemoration of the World Indigenous People’s Day this year that always celebrated every 9 August.

For the reason, AMAN held a week of the Indonesian Indigenous People with the theme of ‘Education, Culture and Spirituality of the Indigenous People’.

This activity, he said, would be held by the Directorate of Faith and Tradition, Directorate General of Culture, Ministry of Education and Culture in collaboration with AMAN. Deputy II AMAN, Rukka Sombolinggi and the Director General of Culture of the Ministry of Education and Culture Hilmar Farid are scheduled to speak in the event.

“The joint celebration with the Ministry of Education and Culture is a major advancement for Indonesians, because this is for the first the ministry was involved. The theme chosen also indicates the state recognition towards the cultural spirituality of the indigenous people that was there long time before the Republic was founded,” he said. (*/rom)

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