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In the 5 years since 2016, the indigenous people of Nagasaribu Onan Habangan have fought to defend their customary territory. They have made various efforts from auditioning, demonstrations from the regional to the central level. In October 2018, the community also met directly with Mrs. Siti Nurbaya, the Minister of Environment and Forestry. During the meeting, Mrs. Siti supported the community’s struggle. However, the absence of a local regulation that recognizes and protects indigenous peoples is an obstacle to the issuance of a Decree (SK) recognizing community customary forests.

In the midst of the community’s long wait, in the middle of 2020, PT TPL then offered the Partnership Forest system as a solution to resolving conflicts against the community. The result is social conflict among the community. because most of the community disagreed with the Partnership Forest scheme offered by the company. Of course, this is very unfortunate for the community, considering that the North Tapanuli Regency Government has begun to get serious about the formation of local regulations on indigenous peoples.

December 2020, the North Tapanuli Regency Government finally issued a Regional Regulation that has been awaited later. All North Tapauli indigenous people really appreciate this, including the Nagasaribu Onan Harbangan indigenous people. The enthusiasm of the people to fight is even higher because they have found a bright spot, even though they also realize that the struggle is still long.

Responding to the dynamics of their struggle for the past 5 years, Friday 5 February 2020, the Nagasaribu Onan Harbangan Indigenous People of Pohan Jae Village, Siborong-borong District, North Tapanuli reflected on the beginning of the year as well as the first mangordang eme (rice cultivation) in their customary territory. This activity was attended by as many as 85 people. The activity began with a short service delivered by the church elders, then continued with mangordang eme and then had a discussion

Opung Deo Simanjuntak, who represented traditional leaders in his speech, said, We must defend the land inherited from our ancestors and never think of selling or pawning other parties. What has been given by God, we should protect and maintain, so that one day it can be passed on to our children and grandchildren. What we do today is a true form of our appreciation to protect and preserve the legacy of our ancestors. Young, mature and old must continue to fight together.

In line with Op Deo, Ama Rini Simanjuntak, Chair of the struggling community, also emphasized the community to continue to struggle to defend and their customary lands. Mangorgang eme today is just one of the many things we have to do to protect our customary land. We realize that challenges will certainly come up to us, but if we are committed and strong, we will certainly be able to get through. In the future, we must also be more frequent so that we understand more about what we are fighting for, said Am Rini.

Roki Pasaribu, the representative of KSPPM, said that today’s activities indicate that this land belongs to the community. Even though there are other parties (companies) who try to intimidate us, if we stick together we will be able to get past it. Of course we still have a long way to go to get recognition, but one thing we must be sure of is that we don’t always mean victory by just a letter from the government. Because in the past, when our ancestors left this to us, they didn’t use letters either. What we can do, that is what we have to do, one of which is controlling and cultivating the land.

After the discussion was over, the community then continued the mangordang eme in mutual cooperation. They hope that this year’s results can help the people’s economy amidst the difficulties of the economy due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

By: Kristina Sitanggang (Ksppm Studies & Advocacy Staff)

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