Mandalika, Indonesia, April 11, 2023:- The Indonesian Coalition for Monitoring Infrastructure Development (Koalisi Pemantau Pembangunan Infrastruktur Indonesia, KPPII) has released a report on the impacts of the Mandalika Urban Tourism and Development project on Indigenous Sasak communities: ‘If it is detrimental to communities, then what is development for?’
The Mandalika tourism development project is the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB)’s first standalone project in Indonesia, approved in 2018 amidst escalating land conflicts as a result of the problematic land acquisition and involuntary resettlement of over hundreds of Indigenous Sasak households. The intimidation of local communities continues as their struggle for adequate compensation for their land and livelihood intensifies.
Building on more than four years of ongoing monitoring of the Mandalika project, KPPII’s survey report reveals a grim reality. The overwhelming majority of project-affected people were not consulted regarding the Mandalika project. Despite being Indigenous Sasak people, 98% of survey respondents were not asked for their consent prior to project approval. This is a clear violation of international human rights law and safeguard standards used by multilateral development banks when funding high-risk projects.
The survey also found a systematic pattern of intimidation by Indonesian security forces and state actors in Mandalika. 70% of respondents said that they had felt coerced during the land acquisition process. A further 84% of respondents were impacted by the excessive deployment of Indonesian security forces during international motorcycle racing events at the Mandalika circuit – including severe restrictions of movement, detention of people who criticized the military’s heavy-handedness, and forced entries into the homes of families who are being pressured into surrendering their lands. The intimidation of local communities continues to be disregarded by the AIIB, which allows its client, the Indonesian Tourism Development Corporation, as well as the Indonesian government, to commit violations without accountability.
“The Koalisi Pemantau Pembangunan Infrastruktur Indonesia calls on shareholders of the AIIB to press the bank for an independent investigation of the Mandalika project, which should be staffed by human rights experts chosen in consultation with and agreed upon by NGOs and project-affected communities. It is crucial for the AIIB and ITDC to take responsibility for these instances of intimidation and retaliation of project-affected communities.” said Muhammad al-Amin, coordinator of KPPII.
Quantitative data and testimonies both show that project-affected peoples continue to struggle with the devastating socio-economic impacts of a development project that moved forward without their consent. 79% of respondents said that they have experienced financial difficulties due to the Mandalika project. The loss of land, access to the sea, and natural resources has resulted in project-affected people becoming indebted just to feed their families and children dropping out of school. The negative socio-economic impacts of the Mandalika project have disproportionately affected women and children, as well as the households who have been involuntarily resettled and living in temporary shelters for more than three years.
Harry Sandy Ame, a researcher from LSBH NTB, said: “The root cause of the intimidation, impoverishment and disenfranchisement of communities in Mandalika is the non-transparent and coercive pattern of land acquisition. In 2018, the ITDC claimed that 92.7% of the land in the Mandalika area is ‘clean and clear’ of any land disputes or conflicts. This is both problematic and inaccurate. Despite the devastating impacts of land disputes on Indigenous Sasak communities, the AIIB and ITDC have continued to withhold key project documentation. Without transparency, none of the land conflicts in Mandalika can be adequately resolved. The AIIB must immediately release its own audit of the ITDC’s land survey.”
The AIIB should also suspend its financing of the Mandalika project until the following conditions have been met:
a) The ITDC and Government of Indonesia has excluded elements of the state security including the military, police and intelligence from any future land acquisition, project implementation, or land dispute resolution process.
b) All land acquisition issues are adequately resolved by providing adequate compensation reflecting the market value of the land and property lost, as well as the loss of income from crops and natural resources. Particular attention must be granted to households that were coerced into ceding their land at below market value and involuntarily resettled, and who are currently completely excluded from the ongoing land dispute resolution process led by the Indonesian government, despite the devastating negative impacts of the Mandalika project on their lives and livelihoods.
c) The ITDC and Government of Indonesia has provided remedies to affected populations for the negative socio-economic impacts and human rights violations linked to the Mandalika case.
d) The ITDC and Government of Indonesia has effectively resolved issues relating to involuntary resettlement.
Just last month, experts from the Special Procedures branch of the United Nations Human Rights Council have released a third communications on the Mandalika project to the AIIB, ITDC, Indonesian government, and affiliated companies – a record number for a mega-project funded by a multilateral development bank.
“Despite this unprecedented level of United Nations engagement, the AIIB and ITDC have yet to take decisive action to release key project documentation, address the root causes of human rights violations, and provide remedy and redress to affected Indigenous communities.” said Wawa Wang, Director of Just Finance International.
Without decisive action, the Mandalika project threatens to set a precedent for other AIIB-funded projects in Indonesia, Southeast Asia, and globally. “European governments that became members of the AIIB helped the bank establish itself as a multilateral development bank and obtain a triple A credit rating. They have not done enough to stop misconduct. Why do our governments support investments that lead to a further exhaustion of the earth and an exploitation of existing inequalities? If banks such as the AIIB cannot guarantee compliance with human rights and their own environmental and social policies, they should not be supported in the first place.” said Pieter Jansen of Both ENDS, a Dutch NGO.
The Indonesian Coalition for Monitoring Infrastructure Development:
Lembaga Bantuan Hukum (LBH) Mataram
Lembaga Studi dan Bantuan Hukum (LSBH) NTB
Aliansi Gerakan Reforma Agraria (AGRA) NTB
Aliansi Solidaritas Masyarakat Lingkar Mandalika (ASLI Mandalika)
Just Finance International
WALHI West Nusa Tenggara
WALHI South Sulawesi
Indonesia for Global Justice
Institute for National and Democracy Studies (INDIES)
WALHI West Java
Indonesia Corruption Watch
Yayasan Lembaga Bantuan Hukum Indonesia (YLBHI)
Rasamala Hijau Indonesia (RHI)
Indonesian Coalition for Monitoring Infrastructure Development: firstname.lastname@example.org
Just Finance Press Desk: email@example.com