Responding to the AIIB Annual Meeting of 2022

The AIIB’s Statement on Retaliation is misleading: the intimidation of Indigenous Sasak communities continues to this day with the heavy involvement of security forces in the Mandalika tourism development project

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.S. (October 2022)

Ahead of the AIIB annual meeting, we, the Indonesian Infrastructure Development Monitoring Coalition, a group of Indonesian and international NGOs working to uphold human rights and protect the environment,  expressly condemn the 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 project, on Lombok island, West Nusa Tenggara Province, Indonesia. 

The statement claims that “AIIB recognizes and takes seriously the increasing risk of retaliation to stakeholders who express views regarding the environmental and social (ES) risks and impacts of development projects.” This is antithetical to the reality experienced by project-affected communities in Mandalika since the AIIB approved the project in December 2018 amidst an escalation of land conflicts. It is crucial for the AIIB to discuss this issue during its upcoming annual meeting and take all necessary steps to mitigate and remedy the harms done to local communities. 

The AIIB-funded tourism development project, which promised to “promote sustainable development in Mandalika and in Lombok more generally and contribute to poverty reduction on the island”, has instead left Indigenous peasants and fisherfolk traumatized, frustrated, and further impoverished, amidst increased militarization of the involuntary land acquisition process that began in 2018 when the AIIB approved the project. 

We, the undersigned, condemn the AIIB for absconding direct responsibility for the human rights violations and land conflicts caused by the Mandalika project. Despite the AIIB not directly funding the construction of the Mandalika International Circuit, the AIIB’s road infrastructure development package is integrated with the circuit. As the stand-alone funder of the Mandalika project, the AIIB has a responsibility to ensure that its client respects the land and human rights of Indigenous populations living in both the project area and the project’s area of influence.

We stand in solidarity with project-affected communities that have witnessed and experienced violent intimidation at the hands of AIIB’s client, the Indonesian government and the ITDC, since the beginning of the project.  The ITDC has used the threat of violence to force Indigenous peoples to leave their homes and their ancestral lands – an important source of livelihoods. The coalition’s ongoing monitoring found that the vast majority of Indigenous Sasak people did not want to abandon their homes and were often intimidated, threatened and coerced into leaving their lands. 

Civil society members have repeatedly raised concerns that the task force for the acceleration of settlement of land disputes (Satgas) comprises members of both the police and provincial army, which have intimidated and coerced local Indigenous people in Mandalika into ceding their lands. Despite these concerns, AIIB and its client ITDC have not taken steps to remove personnel from security forces from this task force. 

AIIB’s client, the ITDC, has treated households who refuse to leave their homes in an inhumane manner. During both the World Superbike and MotoGP races, Indonesian police and security forces camped in the villages of project-affected households whose land was being disputed by ITDC and in surrounding areas for a week, severely restricting their freedom of movement. There were also instances of intimidation and violence reported by community members. One woman was grabbed by the wrist while cooking in her kitchen by a member of the security forces in an incident of forced entry. Local community members were also detained in connection to a Facebook post criticizing the Indonesian government’s security forces for restricting the movement of local communities. They were threatened by the police and told that if they post anything critical of the security forces again, they will be arrested again.

The AIIB’s Statement on Retaliation draws attention to the bank’s Environmental and Social Policy provision: “The Bank will promptly review allegations of such retaliation in connection with the Projects it supports. If such allegations are substantiated to the Bank’s satisfaction, the Bank will discuss with the Client measures to be implemented by the Client to address retaliation risks under the Project. If the Client fails to do so within a reasonable time, the Bank will consider taking appropriate action.”

In the Mandalika project, the AIIB has failed to adequately review allegations of retaliations. In June 2022, after numerous civil society reports and United Nations communications raising concerns regarding human and land rights violations in Mandalika, the AIIB conducted a monitoring visit to Mandalika, after which it concluded that “the absence of evidence of coercion or use of force or intimidation was reconfirmed during the Bank’s site visit”. Local community members that had participated in meetings with AIIB during the June field visit told the coalition a different story: the AIIB delegation did not ask them any questions regarding the deployment of military and police forces in Mandalika or if they had experienced any coercion or intimidation by the ITDC or the task force for the acceleration of settlement of land disputes (Satgas). This seriously questions AIIB’s willingness and ability to investigate instances of retaliation- especially considering that project-affected communities have reported to the coalition 13 incidents of intimidation and coercion from security forces involved in the land acquisition process from 2018 to 2022.

The Indonesian Infrastructure Development Monitoring Coalition would like to call on shareholders of the AIIB to press the bank to take serious efforts to ensure that instances of intimidation, retaliation and manipulation of project-affected communities are reported, investigated, and addressed with transparency, sensitivity and accountability. The AIIB should take seriously any reports of coercion or the use of force in the implementation of projects in Indonesia and around the world. Taxpayers’ money should not be used to further intimidate and impoverish Indigenous people in developing countries. 

Despite repeated calls from civil society, AIIB and its client have not yet released the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Security Personnel developed for the Mandalika project. In September 2022, AIIB stated that this SOP has been cleared by the bank and that its implementation will be regularly monitored by the bank’s team. This document must be made publicly available so that civil society organizations and affected communities can provide input and report any non-compliance of security forces to the bank. The bank must be more transparent and substantiate its claims that security forces are regularly monitored and held to rigorous SOP throughout their deployment to the Mandalika project area.

There is a very real threat of increased intimidation and coercion to clear the land surrounding the Mandalika International Circuit prior to the November 2022 Superbike Race. The Indonesian Infrastructure Development Monitoring Coalition would also like to call on the AIIB and all shareholder states to take all necessary steps to stop the suffering of Indigenous Sasak communities who have been negatively affected by the Mandalika project. We support the demands of affected people to hold the AIIB and all shareholder states accountable in ensuring that they do their utmost to protect their rights to land, housing, livelihoods and justice.

Bandung, October 18, 2022

On behalf of the affected Indigenous Sasak Communities and all victims of the AIIB’s loan project, the Indonesian Coalition for Monitoring Infrastructure Development 

Muhammad Al Amin, Executive Director of WALHI South Sulawesi
Amri Nuryadin, Executive Director of WALHI West Nusa Tenggara
Adzkiya Syahidah, INDIES
Meiki Paendong,  Executive Director of WALHI  West Java
Andi Muttaqien, Satya Bumi
Burhanuddin, Lembaga Studi dan Bantuan Hukum NTB
Komang Audina Permana Putri, Indonesia for Global Justice


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)