Indigenous community in Indonesia attacked by the police and paramilitary forces
Source of the video: If Not Us Then Who
On August 18, the Besipae Indigenous community in Indonesia was attacked by joint forces of Police and Provincial Paramilitary. The invasion took place in the territory located in Linamnutu, South Amunaban sub-district, Central South Timor district of East Nusa Tenggara.
Houses were destroyed and inhabitants were displaced due to the attack against the community who were defending their sacred forest Bupapu. Women and children at the location were also harassed verbally and physically by the attackers.
It all started back in 1987 when Bupapu forest was designated by the East Nusa Tenggara province as the cattle farm project location. The project was a collaboration between the Indonesian government and an Australian company. The permit lasted for 25 years and, since 2010, the Besipae community has been against the decision to extend the permit over the land which ended in 2012.
The community argues that the forest needed to be restored to its original function as a conservation area — known locally as Nais Kio. Neither farming nor hunting is allowed within Nais Kio. Despite the community resistance, the current governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat decided to keep pushing on with the plan.
The community has tried everything to protect their sacred forest. In February 2020, they blocked off the road as a means of protest when Laiskodat visited the community. Women took their clothes off to symbolize the outcry of demand to have their land back. However, it did not stop the plan. Instead, the government sent police and paramilitary forces to attack the community.
The attack was a step up after the police illegally arrested Besipae youth named Anton Tanu (18 y.o) on August 10 and beat him along the way to the police headquarter in the district capital. Tanu was released a day later with bruises all over his body. Four days later on August 14 evening, police once again raided and arrested another Besipae community member, Kornelius Numley (64 y.o) at his house. No warrant was presented and Numley was dragged with force out of his house and since then are still missing.
The event happened as the Indonesian government is currently pushing for a new Omnibus Law. The law is designed to strip off the environmental safeguards and reduce the Indigenous communities abilities to legally protest against new extractive industries (i.e oil palm and mining). On the other hand, the Indigenous Rights Bills draft has been in limbo for 15 years since it was first proposed to the parliament.