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Decades of struggle rewarded: Legal recognition of indigenous lands in Konda district

Human Rights Monitor - June 7, 2024

The local Government of Sorong Selatan Regency has officially recognized the indigenous peoples and customary territories of four sub-tribes in Konda District through a Regent Decree. The decree was presented by Regional Secretary on behalf of the Regent, Mr Samsudin Anggiluli.

The recognized areas include 4,960.828 hectares for the Gemna sub-tribe, 4,674.579 hectares for the Nakna sub-tribe, 27,399.432 hectares for the Yaben sub-tribe, and 3,307.717 hectares for the Afsya sub-tribe.

This recognition is a testament to the local wisdom and efforts preserved by these communities for generations, symbolizing the government's commitment to protecting the environment and ensuring the welfare of indigenous peoples.

The legalisation of customary forest areas in Konda District covers a total of 40,282.556 hectares, benefiting two major tribes, Tehit and Yaben, with support from Konservasi Indonesia (KI).

Additionally, a decree was issued to the Knasaimos customary law community, covering 97,441 hectares in Saifi and Seremuk districts, aided by Greenpeace Indonesia and Bentara Papua. KI's Programme Director, Mr Roberth Mandosir, emphasized the importance of mapping for recognition, protection, and future generations.

Nakna sub-tribe representative, Mr Nikolas Mondar, expressed gratitude for the decree, acknowledging the valuable assistance of NGOs in understanding forest management. Mr Fredrik Sagisolo, Chairman of the Knasaimos Indigenous Peoples Fellowship Council, highlighted the significance of legal recognition for the survival and certainty of indigenous lands.

The Knasaimos community has fought for two decades to protect their lands from exploitation by loggers and palm oil companies. Their persistence included mapping their territories, processing sago for economic independence, and seeking legal recognition.

Greenpeace Indonesia's Papua Forest Campaigner, Mr Amos Sumbung, pointed out that while the Knasaimos have succeeded, many other indigenous communities continue to lose their lands to corporate interests. This recognition marks a milestone in their long struggle, demonstrating the ongoing fight for indigenous rights and the protection of their lands and biodiversity.

Source: https://humanrightsmonitor.org/general/decades-of-struggle-rewarded-legal-recognition-of-indigenous-lands-in-konda-district