For more than a half-century, Indonesia's government-backed economic development has been based on exploiting and exporting the vast natural resource wealth in its waters and forests— often to the detriment of indigenous people who historically occupied these areas. This exploitation has also gone against the customary laws of those indigenous people.
Families forced to relocate due to the construction of the Lower Sesan II Dam are asking Stung Treng provincial authorities to register their new village as indigenous collective lands.
The 67 families from Sre Ko commune received authorisation to set up the new village on their community forest and ancestral lands after their old homes were flooded in October when a gate to the controversial hydropower dam was closed.
They are now seeking indigenous collective land status to protect themselves from being displaced by future development.