Evaluation and Learning from the Struggle of Masyarakat Adat Pandumaan-Sipituhuta (Pandumaan-Sipituhuta Indigenous Peoples)


On tuesday, the 24th Juli 2018, a meeting with members of numerous non-governmental organisations (KSPPM, BAKUMSU, HaRI and AMAN Tano Batak), the Pandumaan-Sipituhuta indigenous peoples, together with executive officials and legislative members of Humbang Hansundutan Regency in Kenanga was held in Medan. Its purpose was to discuss and evaluate the issuance of the regional regulation on recognition and protection of Pandumaan-Sipituhuta indigenous peoples.

This Perda  is about recognition and protection of Masyarakat Adat Pandumaan-Sipituhuta, which was ratified by the plenary meeting in Humbang Hasundatan DPRD, on the 3th July 2018. After struggling since June 2009, the Pandumaan-Sipituhuta indigenous people finally succeeded in gaining official government recognition over their customary rights.

The recognition and protection of indigenous peoples became the first regional regulation in the Lake Toba region, which was created through a participatory mechanism. Following the initial steps of the issuance of the indigenous territories of the Pandumaan-Sipituhuta community by the ministry of environment and forestry as mandated by law no. 41 of 1999 concerning forestry. However, for this regulation to be truly beneficial for the people of Pandumaan-Sipituhuta, the following points should be noted and carried out in the near future.

Firstly, it is very important to accelerate the process of issuing the regional regulation registration number, so that this historic event can immediately be taken to the next level. Namely the issuance of the decree of the customary forest by the ministry on an area of 5172 hectares, mapped by the community in participatory action.

Secondly, this regulation requires the government to be more assertive towards PT. TPL and all relevant parties who violate these regulations. The government, in this case, must be able to ensure that PT. TPL no longer conducts operations in the Pandumaan-Sipituhuta customary territory. The government is also obliged to take appropriate and legal actions if the company continues to carry out operations in areas that are not its proprietary.

Thirdly, this regulation requires PT. TPL and all related parties to respect the government’s decisions and also the struggle of indigenous peoples. PT. TPL and all related parties must comply with this regulation and accept all legal consequences for all its actions that are contrary to regulations that have been ratified in the regional regulation.

The struggle of the Pandumaan – Sipituhuta indigenous peoples is a historic event for the contemporary Toba community. The issuance of this regional regulation is expected to become a milestone in the emergence of indigenous peoples’ struggles in the next Lake Toba area, to defend their rights over land and natural resources. Backed up by this regulation they can sovereignly manage the welfare themselves.

James Sinambela as chairman of the Pandumaan-Sipituhuta indigenous community explained how the community’s long struggle had been carried out since 2009. Due to his efforts, he had even been arrested for defending his customary land.

‘In this struggle we have promised, it is better to die, meaning that our history of our customary land must return. In fact, we even have been jailed for our customary land. We only want our customary land back. We don’t want less than that, we also don’t want even one inch more than that. We just want our rights back, ‘he said.