Dec 12, 2017 Last Updated 3:54 AM, Nov 13, 2017

The occupation of Dongi-Dongi


Greg Acciaioli

What comes first, social justice or conservation? This article is the second in of a two-part series examining the rights of settlers in national parks.

Local peoples have resisted the establishment of Lore Lindu National Park since it was declared a game reserve in 1973 and then a national park in 1982. They felt its boundaries posed a threat to their customary land (tanah adat) and their traditional livelihoods. Some of these controversies have been resolved. The park office has recognised customary rights and even enclave status within park boundaries for groups such as the Toro and Katu communities. More recently, village cünservation organisations have been established to facilitate co-management with local communities. However, no resolution of the problematic relationship between the villagers and park management appears imminent, and the presence of the settlers is having serious ecological consequences.

Contested claims to land

The park co-administrators, the Lore Lindu National Park Office and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), claim Dongi-Dongi is a core zone for conservation within the national park. In the zoning scheme, recognised by Indonesian environmental law, core zones preýlude human habitation in the interests of protecting endangered flora and fauna. The park administrators argue that Dongi-Dongi’s status is unique in the Lore Lindu context because other core zones of the park are at higher altitudes with different flora and fauna.

The current occupants of Dongi-Dongi are mostly from communities of shifting cultivators who have been ‘resettled’ into villages by the government. Customary (adat) principles observed in the settlers’ home areas entitle those who first clear the land to its continuing use. Many of the men from the villages of Dongi-Dongi had planted gardens in the area to supplement their wages. Their employer, PT Kebun Sari, is a joint venture with Japanese capital which was granted a logging concession in Dongi-Dongi before it became a national park.

The difficulties in Dongi-Dongi began with government’s ‘Resettlement of Isolated Communities’ program. This program was administered in typical New Order forcible, top-down style from the mid-1970s to mid-1980s. Dongi-Dongi occupants claim that the Department of Social Affairs (Depsos) never gave them the two hectares of land suitable for agriculture promised under the program. As a result of land shortage, and subsequent enforcement of national park boundaries, many were forced to become wage labourers for concerns like PT Kebun Sari.

Sith NGO support, resettlers have organised themselves as the Free Farmers’ Forum (Forum Petani Merdeka, FPM). They want to assert their moral right to occupy the neighbouring land of Dongi-Dongi. This claim for social justice has been endorsed by NGOs in Palu, including the Central Sulawesi branch of WALHI, an Indonesian environmental NGO. In response, Depsos and park management officials assert that the occupants confuse entitlements promised by the Depsos resettlement program with those of the national transmigration program. They claim that Depsos fulfilled its own promises.

Ecological consequences

The rights of people from the resettlement villages to use land in Dongi-Dongi is also challenged by the indigenous community of Sedoa, whose members live at the northern edge of Lore Utara regency, through which the northeastern boundary of the park runs. They demand that current occupants be removed in order to protect this area as a watershed and thus to prevent flooding of their own agricultural lands.

In December 2003 a spate of flooding destroyed seven bridges and inundated thousands of hectares in the Palolo Valley with mud, trees, rocks and refuse, rendering the land unsuitable for agricultural use. TNC and the park office have argued that deforestation in Dongi-Dongi was the primary cause of such unprecedented flooding. In their view such environmental devastation justifies immediate, forcible relocation of the Dongi-Dongi occupants. WALHI’s Palu branch has countered that many other factors may account for the flooding.

A continuing stand-off

The situation in Dongi-Dongi remains unresolved. The Indonesian government has not initiated forcible relocation, while occupants and their NGO supporters have remained firm in arguing resettlers’ entitlement to this land. Complicating the issue of possiêle relocation is the fact that although the villages from which the occupants have come are located in Donggala regency, Dongi-Dongi itself lies within Poso regency. The devolution of many administrative responsibilities to regency (kabupaten) level under regional autonomy initiatives makes it difficult to determine which governmental officials or agency branches have the right to authorise and enforce such a relocation, if desired.

Greg Acciaioli (ariagl@nus.edu.sg) is based at the University of Western Australia and the National University of Singapore.


Inside Indonesia 80: Oct - Dec 2004

Latest Articles

Essay: Getting to know you through a pendopo

Nov 13, 2017 - DUNCAN GRAHAM

A look at the journey and contribution of a longtime Australian teacher and researcher of Indonesian Studies

When a history seminar becomes toxic

Nov 02, 2017 - SASKIA E WIERINGA

Attacks on a meeting of survivors of 1965 and their supporters at the offices of the Legal Aid Institute in Jakarta in September 2017 do not bode well for human...

Facing history

Oct 18, 2017 - ELSA CLAVE & ANDY FULLER

Credit: http://www.tribunal1965.org

A witness account of the 2015 International People’s Tribunal on 1965

Review: The ideology of the family state

Oct 06, 2017 - DAVID REEVE

David Reeve reviews David Bourchier’s important contribution to understandings of political thinking in Indonesia

Footy, culture and finding community

Sep 26, 2017 - ANDY FULLER

A group of young Australians and Indonesians in sporting gear smile around the camera.

Indonesians are bonding more deeply with Melbourne, through football and the Krakatoas

Subscribe to Inside Indonesia

Receive Inside Indonesia's latest articles and quarterly editions in your inbox.

 


Lontar Modern Indonesia

Lontar-Logo-Ok

 

A selection of stories from the Indonesian classics and modern writers, periodically published free for Inside Indonesia readers, courtesy of Lontar

Readers said:

  • When a history seminar becomes toxic
    Duncan Graham - 12 Nov
    Thanks for this detailed account - most reports have been superficial. The politics have been done well, but what about the people? I would have ...
     
  • When a history seminar becomes toxic
    Jose - 11 Nov
    Inciting violence is a purpose in itself - violence begets more violence. Turning a peaceful event into a violent confrontation serves its own purpose ...
     
  • Mining – who benefits?
    uhaibm@yahoo.com - 04 Nov
    This paper has been inspired in relation to the exploitation of natural resources, specifically the coal mining industry. I am doing some research ...
     
  • Mining – who benefits?
    Mary - 31 Oct
    Well written Kathrin and Maribeth... excellent ! I just read the article, let me give a little bit input/note on the last paragraph-4, where there are ...

30th Anniversary Book

Inside Indonesia - 30th Anniversary Photo Book

 

Have you bought your copy of Inside Indonesia's 30th Anniversary book yet?

The book features 30 of the judges' favourite images from the 2013 Inside Indonesia Photography Competition.

Preview the book  and order your copy online (Soft cover approx AUD$23.00 / Hard cover approx AUD$35.00).