Pabubu Basipae indigenous community evicted by government in East Nusa Tenggara – 23 homeless families live in the forest

On 20 October 2022, the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government evicted the residents of 19 Pabubu Basipae indigenous community houses in Linamutu village, South Central Timor Regency, East Nusa Tenggara Province (Nusa Tenggara Timur – NTT). The area in question is known as the Basipae area. This eviction was carried out based on the East Nusa Tenggara provincial government letter from 14 October 2022, Letter No. BU.030/690/BPAD/2022 concerning the Eviction of Houses and Land Owned by the NTT Provincial Government: BU.030/690/BPAD/2022 concerning the Vacation of Houses and Land Owned by the NTT Provincial Government.

The Head of Assets, accompanied by POL PP, BRIMOB and policed from POLRES Kab. TTS led the eviction. The 19 houses that were demolished included 12 that the NTT Provincial Government had built for the community as compensation for evictions in 2020. Meanwhile, seven other houses were built by the local community. The provincial government argued that the houses were demolished because they belonged to them, while the other seven houses were illegally built on the government’s land.

A member of the community, Daud Selan said the reason for the demolition was that a road to the forest and a cage for cattle farming would be built on the land. He said, “So they (the NTT Provincial Government) built a house, gave it to the community, then came to dismantle it.” As a result of the demolition, currently, 23 families are homeless, comprising 86 adults and 46 children. They are forced to take shelter and live under trees. The situation worsens even more because the rainy season is starting.   

History of the expropriation of the Basipae forest area

The NTT Provincial Government started the evictions in 2020. The government claims ownership of the 3,700 Ha Pubabu Forest as the provincial government’s land assets, which will be used for livestock development plans through Hak Use certificate number: 00001/2013-BP,794953. At the same time, the forest is a customary one belonging to the Besipae Pubabu indigenous people for generations. It has been used as plantation land and limited settlements by the local community.

When traced further, this conflict began in 1982, when the NTT Provincial Government entered the Besipae area by entering into a cooperation agreement with the Pubabu-Besipae indigenous community to implement the Livestock Intensification Pilot Project. The cooperation project between the NTT Provincial Government and the Australian Government in the Cattle Breeding Pilot program was carried out between 1982-1987. However, the project did not go well.

Unfortunately, in 1987, after the Livestock Intensification Program ended, the Forestry Service, without the community’s consent, implemented the National Forest Rehabilitation Movement (Gerhan) program in Amanuban Selatan Sub-district. In 1995, the Forestry Service issued a forestry land register with number 29, which included the Pubabu-Besipae forest area in the state forest area with a protected forest function of around 2,900 hectares. During the Gerhan program, between 2003 and 2008, the Forestry Service of South-Central Timor reportedly cleared and burned approximately 1,050 hectares of Pubabu-Besipae customary forest, resulting in deforestation. The area was used as a cultivation area for commodity crops, such as teak and mahogany, with a business use right (HGU) scheme from 1988 to 2008. 

Clearing natural forests have resulted in drying up wells that have been the community’s water source around the forest area. So in 2008, the indigenous community rejected the extension of the HGU of the Gerhan program. However, the provincial government refused to listen to the community. In October 2012, the government and authorities criminalised and detained 17 indigenous people. Four of them were women who were later released due to insufficient evidence. Apart from the women, there were also two minors. One community member was detained for two months, and ten others for four months.

Since 2011 Komnas HAM has issued several letters emphasising the need to find solutions to the problems of the Basipae indigenous people. In 2012, Komnas HAM gave letter number 2.720/K/PMT/XI/2012 regarding the forest issue of the Pubabu-Besipae indigenous community. Through this Letter, Komnas HAM emphasised the importance of returning the agricultural land borrowed by the Livestock Service Office of NTT Province, which ended in 2012, to the community. Komnas HAM also emphasised the need to evaluate the NTT Provincial UPTD and the Livestock Service Office Program, which instead of developing the community, burdened the community.

However, Komnas HAM’s letters were ignored. In 2013, the government issued a Right to Use Certificate Number 00001/2013-BP.794953 with an area of 3,780 hectares as the basis for the Government’s claim to ownership of the Pubabu customary forest. It triggered the conflict. In October 2017, the conflict escalated because the NTT Provincial Government intimidated the Pubabu indigenous community. At that time, the NTT Provincial Livestock Service and the Civil Service Police came to the community and demanded that the Pubabu Adat community immediately vacate the land. The reason was that the land belonged to the NTT Provincial Government based on a Right to Use Certificate issued in 2013. 

On 18 August 2020, the NTT Provincial Government evicted the houses of the Pabubu Basipae indigenous community. Twenty-nine families were forced to live in the open forest (see photo, source AMAN). This incident traumatised Besipae’s children and indigenous women; however, the NTT Provincial Government insisted that what the police did was a “shock effect” while emphasising that the 3,700 hectares of land would be used as livestock, plantations, and tourism for the benefit of indigenous peoples. The government later provided 12 houses to the residents but on 20 October 2022, they were again evicted from these and seven other houses built by the community and all 19 houses were demolished. The residents were not given any housing options, they must live in the open forest.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Basipae area (-10.017613368384293, 124.21316721839143)
administrative region: Indonesia, East Nusa Tenggara Province, South Central Timor Regency, Amanuba Selatan District, Linamutu Village
total number of victims: dozens
period of incident: 20.10.2022
perpetrator: government
perpetrator details: East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Provincial Government
Issues: indigenous peoples, cultural rights, right to housing, right to food
Sources: AMAN, https://www.cnnindonesia.com/nasional/20221023053324-20-864123/pemprov-ntt-bongkar-19-rumah-besipae-diduga-untuk-jalan-ternak-sapi, https://betahita.id/news/lipsus/5563/konflik-panjang-masyarakat-adat-pubabu-besipae-dan-pemerintah-ntt.html?v=1599293097, https://www.bbc.com/indonesia/indonesia-53839101 Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup Affiliation Violations
1Simon p sae.  maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Ferdi sae      maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Marselina selan    femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Yuliana Lette.p  femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Dian rut kay   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1jonh Manisa  maleunknowncultural rights, food, housing
1Yohana Liufeto  femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Maryanto manisa  femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Demetrius Manisa  maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Soni Baunsele   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Gefario Manisa maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1kornalius Nomleni   maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Yohana Bait   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Amos Nomleni  maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Debora Nomleni  femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1 Alfin Nomleni   maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Minggus Nomleni  maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Rian Nomleni     maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Derlin Nomleni   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1kolodikson sole  maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Maria sae    femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Olifia sole   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Nurce Sae   unknownunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Musafir Selan   unknownunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Afliana Neolaka   unknownunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Orance Neolaka   unknownunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Lasarus Tamonob  maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Demaris Tefa   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Ofret Tamonob  maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Deni Tamononmaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Adi Tamonobmaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Dorce Tamonobfemaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Riki Tamonob  maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Frans Saemaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Yanti Nuban  femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Frengki Sae   maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Derfen Sae     maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Intan Sae      femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Juandri sae maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Nikodemus Manaomaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Anida F. Manisa    femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Jumita Manao   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Rehan   Manao   maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Emi Manao      femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Marten Taunu    maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Imelda Tcefemaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Reli Taunu     femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Ririn Taunu    femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Rilan Taunu   maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Kornelis Lette   maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Sofia Sae   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Abraham Lette maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Jeni Lette    femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Yunus Selan  maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Yance Tobe   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Feralipo Selan  femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Ulang jonatan Selan   maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Amelia Manao femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Garsi    Tanu     maleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Selfiana Tanu   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Stefanus Leomaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Selfina Lakseu   femaleunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
1Misto Leo  maleUnknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing
dozensunknownunknownunknownindigenous cultural rights, food, housing