Traditional Deliberation Discussing the Violence against the Orang Rimba

More than 50 Orang Rimba of Tumenggung Meladang group members left the sub-district office of Air Hitam, Sarolangun District on Monday (1/10). This office was a place where the sidang adat (literally traditional council or deliberation held based on the custom and systems of the Orang Rimba) discussing the persecution against Beconteng (one of the Orang Rimba members) held. Couple days ago, Beconteng was hit by the security personnel of the company as he was deemed stealing the fallen palm fruit in a plantation belongs to PT Jambi Agrowiyana (JAW). In the deliberation, the company should be fined by amount of money to the Orang Rimba. When there was no deal with the Orang Rimba and the company, the Orang Rimba left the place and did not want to continue the meeting.

The lobbying for the fines continued at night. The company tried to persuade the Orang Rimba to reach an ‘agreement’ as if there was an attempt to reduce the anger of the Orang Rimba. Finally, the Orang Rimba accepted the company’s offer (being fined and gave them amount of money) and the case was considered to have final resolution.

The denda adat (literally, fined according to the customs and belief of the Orang Rimba) has indeed existed in the culture of the Orang Rimba since long ago. Bepak Nakan – Beconteng’s father in law – asserted that his men asked for denda pampas (fined based on Beconteng’s inability to work resulting from the injury and pain he suffered from). “Kami hopi ado pemakon, anaknye baru lahir, nye piado bisa mencari,” said Bapak Nakan.

According to Robert Aritonang, the anthropologist of Indonesian Conservation Community WARSI, there has been a ‘shift’ from the sidang adat held to meet the conflict resolution of the Orang Rimba. Robert thought that the sidang adat is now made to directly decide the amount of money under the term “fined”. Once, it was held by taking the moral value into account as the result of one action or attitude and wisely conducted to overcome the pain occurred because of one’s unpleasing attitude towards other(s) or violating the norm existed in the group, “said Robert.

The sidang adat conducted was aimed at making each party aware of their mistake so no similar failure would come up in the future. It is also part of the pampas which means heal the hurt or pain because of unpleasing and arbitrary attitude.  “However, the sidang adat is now shifting and deriving directly at “fined” of amount of much money, said Robert.

According to Robert, the conflict resolution is made pragmatically all the time and is not touch the conflict at ground level. The fact of the matter is the marginalization of the Orang Rimba. This group livedby hunting and gathering, yet, when they have no forest left, they are no longer able to collect anything seem valuable for them. “We do not reach out this issue yet at all,” Robert said.

Robert asserted that a long-term conflict resolution is necessary to enable the Orang Rimba lie at the same level and have right protection as part of citizens. Nevertheless, the recent condition is so poor and ironic, the Orang Rimba has come to an absolute destitute which led them to be more marginal and can not survive in long-term condition.

This condition happened because of different lifestyle of the Orang Rimba. They live by collecting the forest products and hunting, when no forest products could be collected because of deforestation and forest conversion into plantation, then the matters will keep coming up. “the Orang Rimba will be the group whose matter is the most and be so vulnerable towards the various conflicts while pragmatics fines will never be able to settle up everything,” said Robert.

For the Orang Orang Rimba, each condition and issue they had, always lead to any violation which implicates the fines. The fines is required for either Orang Rimba groups or other party deemed to do something unpleasant – in this case, to the Beconteng – the fines is indicated higher in the future when the similar violation happens. As we have known that the livelihood of the Orang Rimba is less by time and that they can not adapt with the environmental changes around.

“The government needs to immediately encourage the Orang Rimba to adapt with any changes around them. We have made some models for the Orang Rimba by sending their children to schools and developing the economy in some facilitated target groups. This models work well, yet, we are incapable of facilitating all groups. Hence, we need the government to actively get involved in this issue and enable the Orang Rimba to keep up with other groups, so, they will be no longer deemed as the lowest class group,” Robert added.

All parties and stakeholders should realize that, the marginalization of the Orang Rimba is the result of the changes in their natural resources where they depend their livelihood on. “If they have been aware of such condition, then all parties can see the Orang Rimba as part of them, part of communities of Jambi Province and are able to develop well in this country,” Robert said.

Robert added that right after the Indonesian President, Joko Widodo visited the Orang Rimba in last 2015, the biggest wish of the Orang Rimba living outside the forest was having the land they can cultivate on. Relevant to this situation, the President Joko Widodo has promised to provide the land to the Orang Rimba over 5,000 ha particularly for those who have no forest and live within the oil palm and rubber plantations. “We do hope that the president could keep his promise soon, so, the Orang Rimba whose life is in uncertainty, living under the companies’ concession and people’s plantation could be better and secure,” Robert said.

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