In response to the sham consultation meeting organised by the Governor of West Nusa Tenggara, Indonesian Civil Society calls out ITDC’s lack of willingness to resolve land disputes affecting Indigenous populations and rejects the continuous involvement of state security forces in the AIIB-financed Mandalika Urban Development and Tourism Project

The Governor of West Nusa Tenggara held a sham ‘consultation meeting’ regarding the Mandalika project on December 6, 2022. According to the official invitation letter, which was not disclosed to the public, the purpose of the meeting was to resolve ongoing land disputes by reviewing community land claims and comparing them with the land audit conducted by the ITDC. Yet, the majority of the participants invited belonged either to the Indonesian government or the state security forces. 

This is particularly problematic because the ITDC has used the threat of violence to force Indigenous families to leave their homes and their ancestral lands since 2018.  Members of the state security – both the military and police – continue to be implicated in tactics of intimidation including recent arrests to silence project-affected communities in Mandalika, as well as the civil society actors that have been supporting them in asserting their human and land rights. It is unacceptable for 40% of the participating groups to be officially invited to a consultation meeting regarding the Mandalika project to be from the Indonesian security forces, including the regional and local police, regional military, navy, air force, and the state security. Out of 20 entities officially invited, only one – a community attorney – can be considered a representative for affected communities. A meeting where 95% of the entities invited represent state institutions – including ITDC, a parastatal entity – cannot in any way encourage the meaningful participation of affected communities or contribute to the resolution of the serious issues faced by Indigenous communities in Mandalika as a result of the AIIB-funded tourism project.

Source: Groups listed as participants on the official invitation letter issued by the Governor of West Nusa Tenggara in Bahasa Indonesia. A.S. (December 2, 2022)

Despite not receiving a formal invitation, a group of community representatives came to the meeting, including a team of attorneys for affected families dealing with land disputes, local village heads, and several people from affected communities. 

Throughout the meeting, most of the speaking time was given to ITDC. Instead of providing a copy of the land audit that was used to approve the Mandalika project or any real data concerning land disputes, such as the proof of relinquishment of land rights or proof of payment, the ITDC only reiterated many times that the land in Mandalika is clean and clear. ITDC representatives stated that they felt ITDC was not obligated to disclose any data because data regarding land in Mandalika was confidential, since it belonged to the Indonesian state. This lack of transparency is completely unacceptable, and the burden of proof regarding land disputes affecting disenfranchised Indigenous communities cannot be shifted to the community members themselves. Given the reports of forced evictions of Indigenous households substantiated by the United Nations Special Procedures and the continuing lack of willingness to resolve land disputes affecting vulnerable families, it is crucial for the ITDC and AIIB to disclose the land audit that formed the basis of the Mandalika project approval. 

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 in Mandalika and to guarantee that there will be no intimidation or reprisals during project implementation. The ITDC must respect AIIB’s environmental and social policies and put an end to the heavy involvement of security forces in the land acquisition process in Mandalika. The ITDC must also resolve ongoing land disputes by offering land-for-land swaps, and proper compensation to victims, not only for the land and property lost, but also for the loss of income from crops and natural resources. Considering that a single statement by a local village leader was misused by the ITDC to represent the consent of over a thousand community members, it is crucial for meaningful consultations to be held with all affected Indigenous populations in Mandalika – without the participation of the government or security forces. Community members must be able to provide input on the agenda and design of the consultation meetings. 

Before community members and civil society organizations can fully participate in any consultation meeting, it is essential for the military and police to be removed from the task force for acceleration of settlement of land disputes (Satgas), since they have a track record for intimidating local Indigenous people in Mandalika into ceding their lands. 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. It is crucial for the AIIB to release the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for Security Personnel developed for the Mandalika project, so that civil society organizations and affected communities can provide input and report any non-compliance of security forces to the bank.

The lack of meaningful consultations, the non-disclosure of key documents such as the land audit, and the continuing involvement of security forces in project implementation are severe violations of the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights. AIIB must commit to an independent evaluation by human rights experts chosen in consultation with and agreed by NGOs and project-affected people. Taxpayers’ money should not be used to further intimidate and impoverish Indigenous people in developing countries.

On behalf of the affected Communities and Aliansi Solidaritas Masyarakat Mandalika (Asli Mandalika), with the solidarity of the civil society of NTB and Koalisi Pemantau Pemantau Pembangunan Infrastruktur (KPPI) Indonesia.

  1. ASLI Mandalika
  2. AGRA
  4. LBH Mataram
  5. Pusakata
  6. Walhi NTB
  7. Walhi South Sulawesi
  8. Walhi West Java
  9. Satya Bumi
  10. INDIES
  11. Indonesia for Global Justice
  12. Just Finance International
  13. Both ENDS