Ahead of AIIB Annual Meeting, Indonesian Civil Society Demands Bank Ends Reprisals & Intimidation of Indigenous Communities in Mandalika

Plainclothes members of the Indonesian security forces restrain a local community member defending their land against involuntary land confiscations in Mandalika. Illustration based on an actual video footage to protect the identity of local activists: A.K. (October 2022)
Plainclothes members of the Indonesian security forces restrain a local community member defending their land against involuntary land confiscations in Mandalika. Illustration based on an actual video footage to protect the identity of local activists: A.K. (October 2022)

Mandalika, Indonesia, 25 October 2022: Ahead of this week’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) annual meeting (26-27 October), the Indonesian Coalition for Monitoring Infrastructure Development has published a statement exposing the evictions and intimidation carried out against Indigenous Sasak people on the Indonesian island of Lombok, as a result of the AIIB-funded Mandalika Urban and Tourism Infrastructure Project [1,2].

In the statement, the organizations “expressly condemn AIIB’s May 2022 statement on retaliation, which is entirely inconsistent with the pattern of intimidation and coercion of Indigenous populations we have monitored on the ground during the implementation of the Mandalika Urban and Tourism Infrastructure Project”. A total of 43 local and international civil society organizations have criticized AIIB and its shareholders for failing to take all necessary steps to stop reprisals and intimidation campaigns against the Indigenous peasants and fishers who have been negatively affected by the Mandalika project.

AIIB’s Mandalika project has been fraught with difficulties from the beginning. AIIB’s client, the government-owned Indonesia Tourism Development Corporation (ITDC), presented botched environmental and social assessments that did not correspond to the reality on the ground, which the AIIB accepted at face value. Most problematic was the ITDC’s claim that 92.7% of the land was clean and clear in the Mandalika area,despite a decades-long history of violent land disputes connected to previous large-scale development projects in Lombok [3,4]. 

From the months preceding the loan approval in 2018 onwards, those who resisted involuntary resettlement in Mandalika have been subject to repeated and repressive intimidation and reprisals by the ITDC and other components of the Indonesia government, according to accounts given by local communities, Indonesia’s human rights body, and the special procedures of the UN Human Rights Council [5,6,7]. Hundreds of families have been forced by the government and the security forces to leave their homes for temporary resettlements unfit to support their livelihoods.

“As AIIB’s first stand-alone project in Indonesia, we are extremely concerned that Mandalika will set a precedent for how AIIB will oversee development projects in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and around the world, failing to take seriously mass evictions, intimidation and reprisals against Indigenous populations”, said Wawa Wang, Director of Just Finance International. 

“It’s clear that AIIB failed to adequately monitor the implementation of the project. The bank did not seriously investigate or take action in response to multiple allegations of intimidation, coercion, and reprisals against local indigenous community members”, said Mohammad al Amien, coordinator of the NGO coalition. Despite numerous reports of reprisals issued by civil society organizations and the United Nations, the AIIB failed to ask local community members a single question about their experiences at the hands of security forces during the bank’s most recent field visit to the project area, in June 2022. 

Indonesia’s armed military that threatened the Mandalika project affected communities with guns during the land clearing process to build an AIIB financed road. Illustration based on an actual photo to protect the identity of communities who witnessed the event: A.K. (September 2021)

“Just Finance International calls on AIIB shareholder governments to amplify the concerns raised by Indonesian civil society and raise this important issue during the AIIB’s upcoming annual meeting” said Wang. “With Mandalika hosting a World Superbike race – and a G20 side event – in November, it is crucial that shareholder governments bring to attention the appalling treatment of Ingenous people in Mandalika, and demand that the Indonesian government and AIIB protect the rights of indigenous communities to their lands and livelihoods.”

Official Statement: Indonesian Coalition for Monitoring Infrastructure Development: “The AIIB’s statement on Retaliation is misleading: the intimidation of Indigenous Sasak people continues to this day with the heavy involvement of security forces in the Mandalika tourism development project”

Statement in Bahasa: https://walhisulsel.or.id/3677-pernyataan-resmi-koalisi-pemantau-pembangunan-infrastruktur-indonesia/

Contact: Just Finance Press Desk, press@justfinanceinternational.org

Further reading:

AIIB’s Mandalika project in Indonesia force thousands to leave their homes “What can you do when they point guns at you?’’

As UN Again Condemns Mandalika Human Rights Violations, NGOs Demand End to AIIB Financing of Indonesian Tourism Project

Notes:

The number of organizations was revised from 42 to 43 after the press release was published.

[1] Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank Annual Meeting, 26-27 October 2022: 

https://www.aiib.org/en/news-events/events/annual-meetings/2022/overview/index.html

[2] Indonesia: Mandalika Urban and Tourism Infrastructure

https://www.aiib.org/en/projects/details/2018/approved/Indonesia-Mandalika-Urban-and-Tourism-Infrastructure.html

[3] Indonesian Tourism Development Corporation, ‘Resettlement Action Plan: Mandalika Urban Tourism Investment Project’, 2018:

[4] Environmental Justice Atlas, ‘Lombok Airport, Indonesia:

https://ejatlas.org/conflict/lombok-airport

[5] The Jakarta Post, ‘Komnas Ham calls for halt to construction of Mandalika MotoGP circuit over land dispute’, October 2020:

https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/10/01/komnas-ham-calls-for-halt-to-construction-of-mandalika-motogp-circuit-over-land-dispute.html

[6] Just Finance International, ‘As UN again condemns Mandalika Human Rights Violations, NGOs Demand End to AIIB Financing of Indonesian Tourism Project’, May 2022:

[7] 3 March 2021: United Nations press release: Indonesia: UN experts flag rights concerns over $3bln tourism project

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2021/03/indonesia-un-experts-flag-rights-concerns-over-3bln-tourism-project

8 March 2022, released 11 May 2022, Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, regarding “regarding the alleged human rights violations and abuses committed in the implementation of the Mandalika urban development and tourism project (Ref: OTH24/2021).”

https://spcommreports.ohchr.org/TMResultsBase/DownLoadPublicCommunicationFile?gId=27134

About Just Finance International

Just Finance works to ensure that the public budget spent globally on development and infrastructure finance is contributing to the advancement of sustainability for populations and the environment.

Signed in solidarity with Indigenous Sasak Communities and project-affected people by 42 national and international organizations, including members of the Indonesian Coalition for Monitoring Infrastructure Development:

1. WALHI NTB

2. WALHI Sulsel

3. WALHI Jabar

4. Aliansi Solidaritas Masyarakat Lingkar (ASLI) Mandalika 

5. Institute for National and Democracy Studies (INDIES)

6. Satya Bumi

7. Lembaga Study dan Bantuan Hukum (LSBH) NTB

8. Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) NTB

9. Green Youth Movement 

10. Pusat Studi Pembangunan dan Kesejahteraan Masyarakat (PUSUKATA) Indonesia

11. Lembaga Bantuan Hukum-Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukium Indonesia (LBH-YLBHI) Mataram

12. Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA)

13. Serikat Perempuan Indonesia (SERUNI)

14. International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) Indonesia

15. Pemuda Baru Indonesia (Pembaru)

16. Front Mahasiswa Nasional (FMN)

17. Asian Peasants Coalition (APC)

18. Asian Rural Women’s Alliance (ARWC) 

19. Amnesty International Indonesia

20. Indonesia for Global Justice (IGJ) 

21. Roots for Equity

22. CSO Partnership for Development Effectiveness (CPDE) Asia

23. Reality of Aid (RoA) Asia Pacific

24. Pesticide Action Network-Asia Pacific (PAN-AP)

25. People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS)

26. Perhimpunan Bantuan Hukum dan HAM Indonesia (PBHI)

27. Merdeka West Papua Support Network

28. Yayasan Pusaka Bentala Rakyat

29. Trend Asia 

30. Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN)

31. Indigenous Peoples Movement for Self Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL)

32. Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) 

33. International League of People’s Struggle (ILPS) Commission 6

34. IBON International (Philippines)

35. Bai Indigenous Women’s Network (Philippines)

36. Just Finance International (JFI)

37. Advocates for Public Interest Law (Korea)

38. Both ENDS

39. Defenders in Development Campaign

40. FIAN International (Germany) 

41. CIVIC Idea (Georgia)

42. ReCommon (Italy)

43. Green Alternative (Georgia)

Contact: Koalisippiindonesia@gmail.com