#COP21: ‘No indigenous respect’ in climate deal, says Timor tribal chief

Indigenous peoples’ advocate Abdon Nababan … the rights of indigenous people are only mentioned in the preamble instead of the operational text. Image: Ryan Dagur

Report by Ryan Dagur in Jakarta

A leader of a Jakarta-based indigenous people’s organisation has expressed disappointment at the agreement recently adopted at the Paris climate conference COP21, saying the pact failed to show recognition of tribal peoples.

Abdon Nababan, secretary-general of the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago, said tribal peoples’ position as keepers of forest and peatland ecosystems ¬ which are vital for climate change mitigation ¬ should be strongly recognised.

“What I hoped for isn’t included in the Paris agreement. The rights of indigenous people are only mentioned in the preamble instead of the operational text,” said Nababan, who particpated in the Paris summit.

On December 12, 196 nations voted to adopt the Paris agreement to curb global warming. The agreement acknowledges that “climate change is a common concern of humankind, parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous people”.

Nababan noted that President Joko Widodo firmly stated in his speech to the national leaders that indigenous people have played a significant role in curtailing climate change in Indonesia.

“If the Paris agreement is implemented in accordance with the president’s speech … such a failing shown by the Paris agreement can be fixed with concrete cooperation,” he said.

According to the alliance, indigenous people manage roughly 57 million hectares of Indonesia’s forests. Of this, 40 million hectares are protected.

Free from fires
“Forests managed [solely] by indigenous people are proven free from fires,” unlike tribal areas managed by corporations, he said.

Nevertheless, Nababan said the Paris agreement was a “very important first move” to save the world from a climate disaster.

On December 10, the Constitutional Court granted a petition allowing indigenous people to cultivate forests for their living.

However, activists claimed the verdict won’t have a significant impact on indigenous people.

“It’s only for those living within the forests, not for those surrounding the forests,” Andi Muttaqien, who helped prepare the court petition, told ucanews.com.

Muttaqien said the court’s ruling should also include surrounding areas where indigenous people commonly live.

He later recalled that at least 60 tribal people had been imprisoned since 2013 for destroying forest land.

“So far the government sees forests where indigenous people live as protected areas. As a result, those doing activities in such protected areas can be jailed,” he says.

Source: Pacific Media Watch 9523

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