Criminalisation of a Dayak community in Long Isun, Kalimantan, Indonesia

“Dayaks can’t be separated from the forest, our lives are spent in the forest. Without her we lose our identity.”

Inui Yeq, spiritual leader, Long Isun


So-called ‘responsible logging’, which has been brought into the community as part of a larger conservation project, has caused serious conflict between Long Isun and a neighbouring community, Naha Aruq. This is primarily thanks to a flawed participatory mapping process carried out for the conservation project.

In 2014, the Long Isun community protested the initial entry onto their land of the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified logging company PT Kemakmuran Berkah Timbers (KBT), including onto their ancestral grave sites. Community members halted logging tractors in order to force dialogue, in accordance with Dayak customary law.

However, in response, the police arrested village representatives in retaliation. One community member, Theodorus Tekwan, was jailed for 109 days – only to be released without charge. Tekwan noted of his arrest: “I remember boats full of police coming and surrounding me and my wife while we were in our garden … It was like they were arresting a terrorist.” On his eventual release Tekwan was intimidated into signing a document stating he had only spent one evening in jail. The criminalisation of Tekwan deterred the community from putting up any formal resistance for over two years, but the community has now continued their struggle, through engagement with the FSC over the lack of consent for certification of logging in their lands.

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