Imagine living in a world where your home could at any time become a national park, or a giant plantation—and you have no say.

There, on land planted with trees your family might trace back generations, military guards could now refuse you entrance, or new owners of a plantation might plow your forest under to make room for rigid rows of palm oil trees; they might burn your home, and offer you work that pays little and takes you away from your family for days and perhaps weeks at a time.

And if you should stand up to this injustice, you’d likely go to jail.

This is the reality of many of the forest peoples of the archipelago of Indonesia, whose stories are captured in a new report on human rights abuses, published in news accounts last week.

“We found violations of the right to property, to life, to a fair trial, to feel safe,  and to an adequate standard of living,” said commissioner and researcher Sandra Moniaga, who spoke during a week-long event in Jakarta last week, held to celebrate the anniversary of AMAN, an indigenous rights group that represents 15 million Indonesians from the forests of the archipelago. “The abuses we found covered every imaginable realm of life, whether economic, social, cultural, or political.”

Nonetheless, Indigenous leaders in Jakarta last week for the AMAN event spoke with hope about their future. President Jokowi won the election last year with AMAN’s help, and he shows signs of adopting policies that could give indigenous peoples more rights than they have had since independence 70 years ago.

And just the existence of the report represents tremendous progress, said Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of AMAN.

“This is the first national inquiry into human rights violations in Indonesia that focuses on indigenous peoples,” Nababan said. “So we are hopeful that change is coming, but we also know that it will happen only when the President turns his full attention to righting these terrible wrongs.”

One of the films shown during the week-long celebration illustrated the quandary faced by indigenous peoples in Indonesia, who are often shut out of the forests that have been their home for centuries. Titled Pandumaan Sipituhuta,  it documents the struggle of a rapidly dwindling forest community, where the people of Pandumaan and Sipituhuta have put up a strong fight against the Toba Pulp Lestari company to stop the growth of monoculture eucalyptus plantations. The story, captured by UK based Handcrafted Films, represents one of the casesreviewed by the National Commission of Human Rights.

“These cases happen in all indigenous communities because indigenous peoples are very easy to criminalize,” Nababan said. “They often do not have legal protections, or they don’t know their rights. This is an unacceptable situation.”

To learn more, check out the the articles below.

Indonesia’s indigenous people still suffer human rights violations, says report – Mongabay

Plataforma de indígenas indonesios denuncia la persecución de jefes tribales –