ASIATODAY.ID, JAKARTA – The lives of inland tribes in Indonesia are now facing serious threats by the expansion of nickel mining companies.
This was experienced by the Hongana Manyawa people, one of the inland tribes in Halmahera, North Maluku.
The presence of bulldozers at Weda Bay Nickel, a company partly owned by the French mining company Eramet working on nickel mines in the area, made the people of Hongana Manyawa ‘go down the mountain’.
Carrying spears, they dared to approach the bulldozer near the nickel mine, as a form of protest. They do not want the forest that is their home to be demolished for nickel mining purposes.
The actions of the indigenous people were recorded by mining workers and the video spread widely.
Activists also criticized the company’s actions and called the cultivation of the land a ‘genocide’ of indigenous people’s land.
“This is very surprising because we didn’t know that some of the forest had been penetrated by companies. This happened much faster than we expected,” Callum Russell, Asia Research and Advocacy Officer at Survival International told IFLScience.
It is known that Weda Bay Nickel has started nickel mining operations on the island since 2019.
“It’s ironic that these people call themselves the Hongana Manyawa — ‘Forest People’ — and yet they are the ones being destroyed in the name of the green transition,” Russell said.
Meanwhile, Weda Bay Nickel argues that their mining concession is far from areas inhabited by inland tribes.
However, Survival International claims that it has leaked internal documents showing that the company commissioned anthropologists to warn of the presence of the Hongana Manyawa people in and around the region.
Survival International Director Caroline Pearce stated that last year her party had campaigned regarding the human rights disaster experienced by this inland tribe.
“Survival has been campaigning against this potential genocide since last year, and this video is clear evidence of what we have been saying – that mining operations in Halmahera are now penetrating deep into the rainforest of the Hongana Manyawa region,” said Pearce, quoted from Survival International website, Friday (3/11/2023).
The existence of the Hongana Manyawa Tribe
Deputy Chancellor of Halmahera University (Uniera) Dr. Sirayandris J Botara MSi Teol explained that the Ohongana Manyawa or Hongana Manyawa tribe has meaning.
If translated, Ohongana means forest people, while Manyawa means human or person.
However, the actual meaning is more accurately defined as people who inhabit the jungles of Halmahera and live with nature. According to Siryandris, the Hongana Manyawa tribe uses Tobelo language.
“Ohangana Manyawa uses Tobelo language so it is called Tobelo Dalam,” he said.
However, the pronunciation is different from other places such as Central Halmahera Regency. Because, in Central Halmahera, Tobelo language has been influenced by the newest sub-ethnic languages in West Halmahera Regency.
Apart from that, local people usually know the Hongana Manyawa tribe as the Togutil tribe. However, this designation does not correspond to the cultural status of the community.
“The Togutil tribe is related to the labeling of communities, this has been inherited for a long time,” he said.
“Local people know this as Tugo Tukil, so it became Togutil, often associated with the hunting instinct of this community,” he continued.
According to Siryandris, the Hongana Manyawa tribe still lives naturally side by side with nature. They also still live nomadically in the forests.
“In my opinion, this community is a community that still maintains Halmahera’s nature and cares for it with all its soul, so they need to be protected,” said Siryandris. (AT Network)
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