Inter-Learning Exchange: Key to Strengthening Solidarity and Exchange of Knowledge and Experience Among Indigenous Peoples

“At the end, only indigenous peoples themselves can sustainably fight for their rights.” – Abdon Nababan, Secretary General of the Indigenous Peoples’ Alliance of the Archipelago (AMAN) in Indonesia

With the aim of strengthening the solidarity, collaboration, and inter-learning of indigenous communities and organizations and their support groups in the region, AIPP with support from Misereor and in collaboration with the NGO Forum on Cambodia conducted a 3-day learning exchange in Kasepuhan Sinar Resmi, Cipta Mulya, and Ciptagelar in Banten Kidul, West Java, Indonesia. This learning exchange hosted by AMAN was participated by indigenous representatives from the Philippines, India, and Myanmar and indigenous representatives and support groups from Cambodia.

The participants learned how AMAN, established in 1999, as the national network of indigenous peoples in Indonesia is conducting a multi-pronged approach (sustained lobby with the government, community mapping, and capacity building of communities, among others) to assert indigenous peoples’ rights and welfare in their country. AMAN currently has 2,302 member communities.

Sharing on the experience of AMAN on community mapping

Beverly Longid of the Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) in the Philippines shared the experience of indigenous peoples in the Cordillera in organizing themselves to have a stronger voice in asserting their rights and welfare. Support groups and indigenous representatives from the participating countries likewise shared their natural resource management systems, experiences and challenges they face in strengthening their networks at the local and country levels, and external challenges such as projects that adversely impact on indigenous territories and conflicting laws and policies of States.

The communities of Kasepuhan Sinar Resmi, Cipta Mulya, and Ciptagelar, where the learning exchange was conducted, are among the members of AMAN. These communities have for generations maintained their strong traditional governance systems and are currently mapping their territories with support from AMAN so they could effectively conduct evidence-based advocacy with their local governments for the protection and respect of their collective rights. Abah Asep Nugraha, leader of Kasepuhan Sinar Resmi, stated that it is an honor for their community to be able to share their experiences, activities, and forest management systems with other indigenous communities in the region.

Sharing with the Abah (Traditional Leader) of Kasepuhan Sinar Resmi and local leaders of AMAN

“We can learn and exchange experiences with each other as well,” he added.

Kang Iwan Suwandri, who is in charge of the external affairs of Kasepuhan Cipta Mulya, also stated that he learned that there are many similarities between the kasepuhan and other indigenous communities in the region and that the exchange is a useful learning experience. The feedback is also shared by Henriana Hatra, Banten Kidul Local Chapter Representative of AMAN, where he stated that, “It’s a great opportunity to get to know and exchange knowledge and experiences with other indigenous peoples from other countries in Asia. We hope that someday we can also visit their communities.”

For Arifin Saleh of AMAN, “There are a lot of things going on in other countries that we can learn from. The goal of AMAN and its members is to be politically sovereign, economically independent, and dignified in their culture. All indigenous peoples in Indonesia are facing external pressures but they are still strongly upholding their traditional values. The three kasepuhans (Sinar Resmi, Cipta Mulya, and Ciptagelar) are portraits of other indigenous communities in Indonesia. This learning exchange should be a continuing activity.”

From among the indigenous participants from other countries, Ajit Ekka of the Adivasi Mahila Mahasang AMMS) in India stated that it was a great opportunity for him to be able to interact with other indigenous peoples in other countries.

“I take back to my country a very strong message on how indigenous peoples come together and fight for their rights. When we come together, we can strongly fight for our rights”, he added.

For media inquiries

Joan Carling, Secretary-General, AIPP, +66-(0)85-694-0100, joan@aippnet.org
Abdon Nababan, Secretary General, AMAN, +62-(0)811-111-365, abdon.nababan@aman.or.id
Robie Halip, AIPP, +66 (0) 846877081, robie@aippnet.org

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